Matt Choquette doesn’t really consider himself a marathon man.
“I’m usually a 5K guy,” the Butte runner says a few days before he lines up to run the Boston Marathon.
That might explain why Choquette is able to run the 26.2 miles of a marathon at a pace most runners would kill to be able to keep up for the 3.1 miles of a 5-kilometer race.
Choquette qualified for the storied race in Boston by finishing the Missoula Marathon in a blazing 2 hours, 52 minutes, 33.1 seconds last July. He finished 10th among men in the race, knocking off miles at a 6:35 clip.
In Boston on Monday, Choquette, 30, is hoping to go even faster.
“Beating my Missoula time is my goal,” Choquette says. “My next goal is to be under 2:50, and my top goal is 2:45.”
That’s a pace that isn’t going to win the Boston Marathon, but it’s a tempo that definitely puts him upper echelon of runners worldwide.
It’s also only going to be Choquette’s third career Marathon. Actually, it’s going to only be his second marathon in which he rigorously trained. Choquette ran the 2010 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Las Vegas, and didn’t take it too seriously. He finished in 3:35:15.
In Missoula last year, Choquette ran with Boston on his mind.
“Part of being a runner is you hear ‘Boston,'” He says. “One of the things I wanted to cross off my running list is to run Boston. When I trained for Missoula last year, my main goal was Boston.”
A few years ago, Choquette wasn’t really much of a runner at all.
After graduating from Butte High in 2001, Choquette went to school in Bozeman and was a member of the Montana State University track team.
“It was a year of being injured on the track team over there,” he says. “It started with shin splints. I ran through it and it turned into a stress fracture.”
So Choquette came back to Butte, graduated from Montana Tech in 2007, married Ashley Woy and the couple started a family.
“I didn’t really get serious about running again I’d say until three years ago,” Choquette says.
When he did get serious about running, Choquette also got serious about winning. He pretty much won every race he signed up for in Southwestern Montana last year and this year.
“I didn’t win Missoula. I didn’t win the Wulfman,” Choquette says, referring to the Wulfman’s Continental Divide Trail 14K. “One of my goals is to get better at trail races. I’m a good road runner, but I need to get tougher in the mountains.”
As far as the 5K and 10K races go, Choquette has owned them recently.
He ran the 7.3-mile race at the Frigid Digger Race in February when the race was the middle leg of a 20-plus mile run. Even after putting in more than 10 miles before and after the run, Choquette won the Frigid Digger by two minutes over the second-place runner.
“It is (crazy),” Choquette admits to running long legs around a road race. “But if I can do those when I’m tired from running a race, I can do it in the marathon.”
Running is in Choquette’s family. His wife and his father-in-law, Jim Woy, ran the 2009 New York Marathon with the Mariah’s Challenge team. His younger brother, Clint, is a 2005 Butte High graduate who recently went back to college to run for MSU-Billings’ cross country team.
Family members, though, aren’t the only runners pushing Choquette to Boston. He is also being directed by highly-acclaimed running coach Nicole Hunt of Deer Lodge.
“I was getting better on my own, but she pushed me to get better,” Choquette says. “It’s amazing how much faster you can get when you have somebody who knows what they’re doing push you.”
Choquette says starting too fast on the down hills in Boston is actually a concern. He’s working hard at pacing to make sure he has enough in the tank when he hits Heartbreak Hill at the 21-mile mark.
“I’m going to try to save myself for the first five miles or so and be ready for the hills later in the race,” Choquette says.
Before he hits the streets running, Choquette is planning on catching some sites in Boston. He is leaving with his wife and some relatives on Saturday. They’re returning home on Wednesday. They have tickets to watch the Red Sox play Tampa Bay at Fenway Park on Sunday.
“I’m just excited to go to Boston,” he says. “It’s a runners dream.”
Butte resident Bryan Bradshaw, 45, is also running the Boston Marathon on Monday. According to race records, Bradshaw has run the race 10 times in the last 11 years.