Matt Hill talks like he runs - fast, energetic and with heaps of enthusiasm. The Vancouver native has completed seven Ironman races, hundreds of marathons and has acted in a number of big budget movies. But it is his commitment to environmental causes that really gets him going. Fresh off a 17,000 kilometre cross-North American running tour to raise awareness around environmental issues through his organization, Run for One Planet, Hill is scheduled to speak at Whistler's iShift Citizen Launch as part of the Whistler 2020 Take Action plan to improve the environmental practices of local business.
Pique : You're a little more dedicated than the average runner - how did you get started?
Hill: "I was born a whole month prematurely and my mom said I hit the ground running. I basically skipped crawling and bolted right to whatever open door or fence that wasn't locked off, so I've been running my whole life. When I was a kid I got really inspired by Terry Fox, he literally changed my life when I was 10. Watching him on his Marathon of Hope just lit something inside of me. I went 'Wow, I'd really like to contribute like he did,' but I didn't know exactly what I was going to do. As a 10 year old you're just inspired and that's enough. He really had an indelible mark on my life for sure. I ran track through high school and then after doing the Ironman seven times the question was still 'how can I give back?' With my love of running and people and the planet I guess you could say serendipity hits me in the face."
Pique : Why did you decide to align your running career with the environmental movement?
Hill: "On those runs (partner Steph Tait and I) were asking ourselves how we could contribute with our lives in service of something bigger, and it really quickly began to centre around what was going on with the planet. We'd hear all this stuff on the news and then in the summer of 2006 when Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth came out, it really affected us because those were the questions we were asking. At the end of the movie he asked what was the one action you would take as a result of watching this film and so as we were walking home that night Steph said 'OK, what are you going to pick?' and I committed to not driving my car around the city for silly trips and Steph said 'OK, I will stop using my dryer from here on in and I will hang dry everything.' And interestingly enough that cascaded into a total overhaul of everything we did. Literally one little change inspired another. We would say, 'OK, this summer and fall let's try to eat everything local and organic,' and we did and it became fun. We called it our summer of eco-evolution. Little did we know that it was the backbone of what ended up being our Top 10 Action Steps that we were asking people to take on the running tour. We kept getting more and more excited about the changes we were making in our lives. When the idea of the tour landed, we knew this was what we needed to talk to people about."