Matthew Balding AKA Mental Bear

The Man Beneath The Bear

Matthew Balding’s achievement of completing SEVEN Spartan Race Trifecta’s in one year is almost unprecedented and that’s before you even consider that he did it all while wearing a huge bear costume. We caught up with ‘Mental Bear’ to find out all about it.


(Quirky Races) What’s your running/ racing background before you donned the bear costume?

(Matthew Balding) Being military I try to keep as fit as possible, I’ve done some ultras and about 80-100 trail runs /obstacle course races all together from 2015-2016 then I started the Spartan mentalbear challenge.

(QR) I understand that you wear the bear suit as an extra challenge to raise money for your chosen charity but why a bear and what made you chose such an elaborate costume?

(MB) A couple of things. The charity I picked – Zoe’s Place Coventry, had a picture of a bear as their logo and after my 2016 season ended badly with my hernia worsening, I couldn’t run to fast so mentalbear was born.


(QR) When did you first wear the costume to race in and did you train in it at all beforehand? If so where?

(MB) My first race as Mental Bear was Spartan St. Claire at the start of the 2017 season which was so hot. I trained as the bear running in rivers around Coventry to get used to carrying the extra weigh as it is nearly 30kg’s when wet.


(QR) I know you’ve done lots of obstacle course races (OCR) in the outfit, partially Spartan Race, but do you know how many you’ve done in total?

(MB) 22 in all. 21 Spartans (a total of 7 trifectas) and then mud7.


(QR) Wow! Have you done any runs outside of OCR as the bear?

(MB) Not yet, I did plan to but the Coventry half marathon 2018 was cancelled due to the snow.

(QR) What’s the biggest challenges you face while in the costume. You’ve said it gets very heavy when muddy and wet, which I can imagine, and judging by your photos you certainly don’t avoid the mud!

(MB) Overheating is the worse, I had to carry an icepack to cool my core temperate down. I went to France for Spartan Race Morzine which was so hard as it was wet and so hilly.


(QR) You’ve told me that you’re having a break from racing as Mental Bear this year. What are your goals for 2018?

(MB) None, I’m having some family time then I plan to be back to the charity work for a couple of runs in 2019 starting with winter Nuts Challenge.

(QR) Will the bear be making a comeback and if so do you have any future ideas to challenge yourself further and raise even more money for charity?

(MB) Yes just not sure what races and charity yet.


(QR) How much have you raised so far?

(MB) So far £2094

If you would like to keep up to date with Mental Bear’s challenges and give him a sponsor his fundraising page is below:

Good luck Matthew!


Author: Chris Lamb Racing Diary

I am an endurance based athlete participating in events from 800m on the track to ultra trail marathons & obstacle course races. I like to test my strengths over the widest range of events possible at the highest level I can. You can follow me on Facebook here:

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