When we were figuring out the finer details of the Accelerator Programme, one of the common themes was that prospective partners really tapped into our passion for their respective sports. They were doing something that got us excited. They got us talking. What drove us to create the program was the desire to share that excitement with the world, and naturally that involved getting under the skin of those at the pointy end.

So, let us introduce Matt Niutta. He’s the driving force behind Fractel Running, the first client partner to enroll on the Accelerator Programme, and a brand for whom we have a deep admiration. With a focus on community-building and making running a space for all, Fractel are looking to bring their premium performance headwear to a broader audience. We got to catch up with Matt just before the Christmas break to find out a little more about the man behind the mission.

PU: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today. How are things?
MN: Everything is going well. It’s been a crazy few months for us and we’re looking forward to a reset and some downtime over Christmas, ready for an even bigger 2024!

PU: Tell us about a run that has stuck out for you recently. What made it feel special?
MN: My co-founder and I decided to take the day off a few weeks ago to run 50km for ‘fun’. Whilst we didn’t make the 50km that day, the 45km we did manage together highlighted the fact it’s more than just reaching a finish line… As cliche as it is, it’s the ‘journey’ that’s the most rewarding and enjoyable process.

PU: Hot debate in the office at the moment… running with music or without? If music, then what’re you listening to?
MN: I’m a no-music man personally. I’m rarely able to detach from technology so I use my opportunity to run to do exactly that.

PU: It seems like your diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa back in 2011 not only changed your life but had a profound impact on your relationship with running as a sport and form of well-being. Could you talk us through that?
MN: Definitely. When I was told in 2011 that I could no longer drive again and would be blind within the next 10 years, it really hit hard. My mode of transport became my two feet, which grew my love for the simple sport of running. Dealing with the diagnosis and working on my mental health has very much helped my ability to still run, get outdoors and put things into perspective. There is always someone doing who has it tougher than you, so make the most of what you do have.

PU: Running is seeing a surge in popularity, and we’re particularly seeing this with cyclists and people with a history in other sports. Why do you think that is?
MN: It’s great to see! I think this has a lot to do with its simplicity. In most cases, you’re able to just lace up a pair of shoes and get out the door, rain, hail or shine. It’s also a fantastic way to socialise, experience new surroundings, environments and explore.

PU: Fractel is 5 years old, just like PaceUp. We’ve used the milestone to take stock, appreciate what’s come before, and get excited about changing things up moving forward. Has turning 5 prompted any similar reflection on your side? What do you think the biggest difference will be between the next 5 years vs the last 5?
MN: Time flies when you’re having fun… We’re extremely grateful to be where we are today, having organically grown the business over the last 5 years. We now have a global community, one that is passionate about running and adventure, and can join us on the next 5 years of continued growth, product development and more!

I’ve learnt many lessons that I’ll take into the next 5 years but the majority will stay the same. Stick true to our core objectives, be patient and be consistent.

PU: Classic desert island vibes. Three objects to take with you. Go.
MN: My Fractel hat, a pair of runners and a good book.

PU: The person reading this might be on the fence about heading out for that run tonight in the dark/cold/wet (certainly for us in the UK). The temptation grows to stay in and head out tomorrow instead. It’s about 50/50 – it could go either way. What would you say to them to get them over the line?
MN: You’ll never regret going for a run.