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Klundt–running through time zones

Story By: Tomas Kassahun

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Matt Klundt has bounced around like a pinball. At 25 years old, he has covered almost every corner of the globe and has seen just about every culture, temperature, and time zone there is to see. But no matter where he was, the one constant in his life has been his love of running. 
Though Klundt grew up playing many sports, nothing came close to running. At Hoover High School, his coach saw the potential in the young man and pushed him to his limit. Klundt never looked back. From Hoover, he came to Fresno City College where he continued to build on his love of running. 
At FCC, Klundt proved himself as a strong long distance and steeple chase runner.  But after a year at FCC, injuries mounted grinding his academic goals to a standstill. 
 It was then that Klundt turned to the Air Force. He took basic job training at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio before landing in Turkey for a 15 month tour. There, Klundt pursued his passion of running and even competed in races.
“My job was very physically demanding so I ran when I got the chance to keep in shape,” he said. He worked as part of the security forces.
When Klundt moved on to Iraq, he continued to make time for running, no matter the circumstances.
“If I had a mission during the day, I would run at night,” said Klundt. “No matter how tired I was, no matter what went on during the day, I always made sure I made time for running. It was also an outlet for any kind of stress relief or to get away from people I was around every day.”
And the conditions were far from pleasant. But neither the vast amount of sand, nor the freezing winter or the blazing sun would stop Klundt from running.
In a span of eight months in Iraq, Klundt logged over 1,000 miles. “It was physically the best I have ever left. I was on a constant schedule. I was eating right. I was just doing everything the right way,” said Klundt.
During his time around the world, Klundt has experienced many races which are hard to forget.
While he was stationed in Turkey, Klundt traveled to Belgium and took part in a race that brought together five different national Air Forces.  “It was unique to experience all the difference cultures,” said Klundt.
He remembers a not-so-pleasant race in South Korea where the air was so bad one could almost taste it. Conversely, Klundt has also seen the greatest sights in Alaska where he was surrounded by mountains and vegetation. He was also stationed in Guam where he ran in the constant humidity.
But one of his most memorable races came during his time in Iraq in the “Fallen Soldiers Half Marathon,” a race held annually to honor fallen soldiers.
The conditions were atrocious as it had rained two days before the race. But it was decided that no amount of mud would stop the soldiers from honoring their fallen brothers and sisters.
“The mud was so bad, it was as thick as milkshake, and the road was slick; there were people losing their shoes. It was the worst condition I have ever run in, but I ran my best half marathon time,” said Klundt.   
In 2010, Klundt completed four years of service and returned home.
After all he has seen during his time in the Air force, Klundt says he has a different perspective in life. “I don’t take anything for granted. I wake up in the morning and I make sure I tell my family I love them. I spend time with as many friends as I can,” he said.
Having witnessed a fallen brother in his unit, Klundt now says he now knows how valuable life is and how every second matters.
As for the adjustment to civilian life, Klundt says it’s still ongoing. “Some days, it’s good, and some days, it’s bad, but it’s nice to able to just drive across town and spend some time with friends,” said Klundt. “There are still some things I have to cope with, but running has always been a great escape for me.”
But what matters even more for Klundt is the satisfaction he gets from helping others with running.
“When I was in service, there were a lot of people who came to me and asked me for help to reduce their mile time,” said Klundt. “Being able to help others is a really good feeling.”
Today Klundt is one of the elder statesmen on the cross country team at FCC. Although he jokingly describes himself as the old guy, he doesn’t take his leadership responsibility lightly.  
“I have gotten many tips here and there from the all the years that I have been running, so I try to incorporate that and give that to the other guys,” said Klundt. “A lot of people run because they are fast, but to run because you enjoy it is another deal.”
Klundt says the goal is to go as far as possible with running.
“I joke around about crossing the finish line and letting that be my last breath,” said Klundt. “I know my body is getting old because I have been running for so long, but as long as nothing happens to my legs, I’m going to keep running.”
Klundt is now on a complete civilian status. He says It is nice not having to shave everyday. “I can grow facial hair and have my hair grow longer than half an inch,” he said.
While he enjoys the comforts of home, Klundt makes it his mission to remember his brothers and sisters still at war.
“I have a lot of respect for the flag. I still have a brother who is in the Army. I keep in touch with a lot of friends I served with. They are stationed all over the world,” said Klundt. “Any time I see a service member in uniform, I make sure I say thank you because I know it’s far and between that they get the recognition they deserve.”

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Klundt–running through time zones