When Matt Jackson returned from a deployment to Afghanistan in September 2012, he knew he wanted to do something for the men and women who sacrificed to serve America in wartime.
And so the idea of running ultra marathons (typically longer than a marathon) and raising funds for the Wounded Warrior Project was born.
But Jackson did not want to run just one ultra marathon — he wanted to run three, each more than 40 miles long, in one month.
His best time was 8 hours, 33 minutes at Pine Mountain, said Jackson, a native of Vermont, and a two-year Army veteran.
“There isn’t a whole lot of money in doing 10Ks and 5Ks. I didn’t know if it had to be extraordinary, but you have to do something extreme,” said Jackson who said he was impressed by the outpouring of giving from Family, friends and strangers.
“I’m really inspired by their spontaneity and their immediate commitment to the cause,” he explained. “It gives me a lot of confidence that what we are doing affects a lot of people and that they are really beginning to appreciate the sacrifice that we make.”
Jackson’s leadership and commitment to wounded warriors is not something that surprises Philip Schneider, a Fort Bragg Soldier with whom he served in Afghanistan.
“He’s a very stand-up guy,” Schneider said. “He’s very professional.”
“Matt’s the kind of guy who does extraordinary things. He’s a leader who does more than just talk about giving more than 100 percent — he’s an action guy,” said Capt. Will Summers, who is now assigned to Fort Benning, Ga., and is a former commander who Jackson considers a role model.
No matter the accolades, Jackson seemed to have a singular vision for completing three ultra marathons: he drank at least 20 ounces of water each hour and consumed about 300 calories per hour, including high intakes of sugar and potassium in the form of Hammer Gel shots.
Typically, Jackson said he ran 30 miles per week, in addition to doing regular physical training and maintaining a normal work schedule.
Though the ultra marathons are behind him, running and fundraising are efforts that Jackson plans to continue.
Donations for the Wounded Warrior Project under Jackson’s name may still be accepted at https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/individual-fundraising/RAW/