“I was doing three marathons a week at one point, but I was taking on too much, too quickly,” confessed runner and videographer Matt Nelson.
Middlesbrough-raised Nelson first moved to London in 2017 where he was defeated and injured by his own game: to run to each station on the tube map.
But the 27-year-old is his own best competition. Spurred on by an insatiable desire to explore the city and as a devotee to fitness app Strava, Nelson took on the challenge once again in Spring this year.
Since then, he has run more than 390 miles past every station on the London Underground, documenting his experience in his YouTube series ‘Runderground’.
He is now roving Overground and plans to run an extra 117.6 miles as a portion of Thameslink is temporarily added to the famous map for the new year.
“Runderground is not a race,” Nelson affirmed.
He explained that Runderground is about showcasing London, instead.
He said: “People have walked the lines before and written books about it, but I didn’t see anyone documenting anything like this on YouTube.
“I have always loved running, I have always loved public transport, so I thought I would start exploring.”
With the entire London portion of Thameslink on the tube map, there are nearly 120 miles more to explore as places like Merton, Sutton, Orpington and even Dartford in Kent appear for the first time.
Nelson said: “I’ve been so heavily focused on the north and I’m not too familiar with the south.
“I think it’s fantastic to see Thameslink on the tube map because of the representation that south Londoners will get.”
He said he does not know what to expect exploring south London.
He said: “Now that it is on the map, I will be doing some research, but I don’t want to research too much into the Thameslink runs because I want to know what it will offer me from my perspective. That’s where the magic happens.”
Were there any magical moments from his trip so far?
“Sunflower fields, hands down.”
Nelson recalled the moment that he stumbled upon a sunflower field next to the Metropolitan line in Buckinghamshire.
“This is gorgeous. Why do I feel emotional looking at this?” he says on his YouTube video.
In a different video, he enthusiastically stumbles upon Merton Abbey Mill, a waterwheel and heritage village near South Wimbledon on the Northern line
“Come on, let’s go!”
He invites viewers to take a look at the mill, before offering them a whistle-stop tour of the line from Morden to Kennington.
Each line is difficult for a different reason too, he said.
He nearly got heatstroke in Essex when he ran the Central line because there is little shade.
The Metropolitan line is difficult because of the distance between the stations, and the Bakerloo line lacks a varied terrain, Nelson explained.
He said: “Even with the Waterloo and City line, the shortest line, I thought ‘why not make this the hardest line and run a marathon on it?’
“You only get back what you put in.”
Putting in the work has earned Nelson fans globally, he says, and during the second Covid-19 lockdown, he heard about a repeat attempt by a man on the Glasgow subway.
Thameslink managing director Tom Moran also wished Nelson well.
He said: “We’re delighted to have added an extra 100 miles to Matt’s Rungerground challenge! Everyone at Thameslink wishes him all the best.
“We’re delighted that Thameslink stations across London have been temporarily added to the iconic tube map, particularly those areas of London which are now appearing for the first time such as parts of south west London.
“Adding Thameslink services will be especially helpful now, as we know people want to plan their journeys carefully and ensure they can socially distance.”
You can read more about the future of the tube map here.