Westhill man Matt completes his year-long running challenge

Four hundred hours of running, 78 running buddies, six pairs of trainers, two marathons, and an elevation gain five times the height of Everest – those are just some the numbers attached to one local man’s charity effort to run 10km every day this year.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 6:07 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 6:07 am
Matt at the start line of the JogScotlandWeshill 5k Fun Run he organised

Westhill man Matt Huntington completed his year-long challenge to run the daily distance in aid of Friends of ANCHOR on December 31 last year.

The huge task, which Matt began training for in 2020, began on January 1, 2021, and ended with a celebratory 10km run around his neighbourhood at noon on New Year’s Eve.

Matt took on the challenge in memory of sister Kathy Parfitt, who passed away in 2018 following a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Matt with his wife Emma (centre) and daughter Amy (right)

So far, he has run more than 4,400km, an average of 12.6km every day – and raised more than £30,000 for cancer charity Friends of ANCHOR, which helped support Kathy.

He says he is “overwhelmed and thankful” for the donations he’s received, which will go towards Friends of ANCHOR’s ‘ANCHORED Together’ appeal to raise £2m for upgrades within the new ANCHOR Centre, which is due to open in 2023.

“When I first dreamt up this idea, I knew I wanted to do something that would catch people’s attention, but it had to be something I was capable of doing.

"I broke my ankle in July last year and when I got around to running again by the October, I started to wonder if I’d be capable of running every day,” said Matt, who works as a project manager.

By November, he was in training, testing the waters to see if his ankle could hold up to 10k each day.

Now, Matt has run a minimum of 10km every calendar day this year, an effort which has seen him run through the city centre, Aberdeenshire, the Cairngorms, Inverness, Edinburgh, the Lake District, Sheffield, Northumberland and even around a hotel room in London.

Fitting the daily run in around work and family life has been one of the more challenging aspects, but Matt says his sister Kathy has been forefront in his mind, driving him forward.

He said: “I’ve been motivated by memories throughout the year.

"April 28th would have been Kathy’s 46th birthday, and I planned a special half-marathon route that took in Kathy’s two favourite Parkrun routes at Hazlehead Park and Aberdeen Beach.

"It was an emotional day but has to be up there with one of the most special ones. It was really poignant.”

Matt ranks a handful of other runs among the most memorable days of the year: his first ever marathon on October 3, which he completed at the Loch Ness Marathon with his 18-year-old daughter Amy, and his second 26.2-mile race, the virtual New York Marathon, just five weeks later, which he completed with his eldest son Sam, (21) keeping pace on his bicycle.

It’s been a family affair throughout the year, with Matt’s wife Emma also a keen runner - and their youngest son Joe has even joined in on his bike.

He said: “My family has been an amazing support.

"Early in the year I was only thinking about the physical challenge – how to pace myself and avoid injury.

"But it’s become so much more than that for me. It’s been therapy for me and for my mum and dad too.

"It’s been good to see something positive come out of the reason I chose to do this.

“I’ve met some amazing people, including lots of others who fundraise for Friends of ANCHOR. It’s never felt like a chore or something I’ve regretted committing to.

"The whole thing has become packed full of really special memories.”

Matt added: "I can never seem to find enough words to express how grateful I am for everyone’s support and donations.”

In addition to running 10km every day, and a half marathon every month, Matt organised a 5km Fun Run with JogScotland Westhill which saw hundreds of runners race around Dunecht Estate, raising nearly £4,000 in the process.

His last day of running (Friday, December 31), saw him joined by friends, family and supporters at his local Denman Park in Westhill.

Sarah-Jane Hogg, Charity Director at Friends of ANCHOR, added: “The sheer commitment to get up every day and head out for a run, rain or shine, is an astonishing feat in itself, but Matt’s efforts and passion for the cause have seen him raise an incredible £21,000 in the process.

"He’s inspired so many people along the way and it’s been really special to see this challenge unfold.”

She added: “On behalf of everyone at Friends of ANCHOR, and the staff and patients who will benefit when the new ANCHOR Centre opens, thank you.”

To find out more about his challenge, follow Matt on Instagram by searching for ‘365daysofcourageforkathy’

You can also support Matt’s fundraising by visiting his JustGiving page at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/365daysofcourageforkathy

Formed in the same year as the ANCHOR Unit, Friends of ANCHOR has delivered direct support to the patients and staff since 1997.

The ANCHOR Unit is a collective of specialised wards and clinics within Aberdeen Royal Infirmary - the central hub of cancer and haematology care for the North-east of Scotland.

Visit www.friendsofanchor.org to find out more about the charity