Martin Yelling is kind of a big deal on the UK running scene. Whether he is training elites or presenting on his MarathonTalk podcast, Martin’s goal is to inspire and motivate people to get out and run. This passion is the driving force behind Jantastic, a running fitness challenge that encourages personal goal setting and consistency, it provides the support to keep you on track and deliver you into the spring in great shape.

Strava partnered with Jantastic and is kicking things off January 5th, 2015. We spoke with Martin to get the history and hear his running story.  

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Martin Yelling: I’m a lifelong runner. My running journey started as a 10 year old in a school cross-country race. I missed out the podium rosette but I was hooked, I pursued running with a passion. I joined my local running club in Somerset (UK) and progressed to an English Schools track and field Championship finalist and onwards to a top 10 ‘National’ cross country finish, a AAA’s bronze medal over 1500m, England International vests, sub 30min 10ks, and a 66min half marathon in my senior running career.

I moved into multisport (duathlon and triathlon) events and twice won the British elite National duathlon championships, the British middle distance triathlon championships, and was the top British age group finisher at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships. I’ve also done a bunch of ultra running events including the South Downs Way and Comrades.

How has running influenced your life?

Although most of my running these days is along the stunning trails of the Jurassic coast near where I live in Dorset, UK or pushing my twin sons in their double buggy around my local Poole parkun (double buggy PB of 17:21!). I do still have some long term running ambitions of one day completing the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc and the Western States 100.

I’ve really embraced the shift from being a performance-focused athlete to running for the sake of participation and enjoyment.

Although I still love to push myself and be competitive I’ll definitely no longer run personal bests. I enjoy the training aspect of preparing for a specific event but the challenge now is fitting it in around a hectic family life rather than trying to bang out faster and faster times!

Do you share a similar passion for running with your family?

My wife is Liz Yelling. She has a 2:28 marathon personal best and is a two-time Team GB Olympic marathoner and a Commonwealth medalist. Liz had an international career that spanned 24 years and we’ve been together for 21 years so have developed as athletes together, although Liz participated at a much higher level than I ever did. She was a really class runner. What stood her apart was her ability to really hurt herself in training and racing. I mean she used to dish out some hurt! My sister is two time European Cross country champion Hayley Yelling. I think between them they have won over 20 National titles! Going for a family run together used to be a quite a burn up!

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How have you incorporated running in to your work?

I coach a small number of runners and triathletes and work generally within endurance sports.

I helped Joel Jameson go 8:30 for an Ironman and work with runners of all abilities to help them achieve their personal goals. Liz coaches too and coached Richard Whitehead to his double amputee world marathon record (2hrs42mins) and his London 2012 Paralympic gold medal. I also write for running and fitness media, speak and present at running events, host workshops and generally have some fun.

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What about Marathon Talk and Jantastic?

Marathon Talk is the UK’s biggest running podcast and is something I present weekly along with parkrun MD Tom Williams. We founded the show to give runners some company on their long runs but also to generate a community. We’ve had over 3million downloads and love the friendliness of our community.

Jantastic is a New Year fitness challenge and it grew out of our desire to offer motivation and encouragement to runners as they strive for consistency towards their spring running goals. In 2014 21,000 participants logged 356,000 runs and we hope that they completed the challenge in great shape and were able to hit their personal aspirations. The great thing about Jantastic is that participants set their own personal goals so it’s a level playing field for everyone.

What’s new for Jantastic in 2015 and what will Strava add?

For 2015 we’ve added the ability to swim, bike and run (or any combination of these) Jantastic, set up the opportunity to get fit and fundraise for a charitable cause and track your activity with Strava.

Jantastic is a great motivational tool for keeping people on track with their training, but to log runs participants used to do it manually. In 2015 as a result of our Strava integration Jantastic participants will be able to connect their Strava profile and track their workouts, generate improved insight and reap the benefits of being part of the Strava community. I’m really excited about the additional functionality that connecting with Strava will offer Jantastic participants. In particular I’m loving the Strava specific challenge badges (for example, Strava centurion, Strava mountain goat and Strava sub zero) that we’ve developed to motivate people during the challenge.

Jantastic sounds great, how do I get involved?

You can sign up now by popping along to, clicking ‘sign up’ then connecting with your Strava account. It all starts on January 5th. If you do take on the Jantastic challenge, let us know how it goes by sharing updates using #stravaproveit.