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North-east runner finishes 10km every day charity challenge on Hogmanay


By Kyle Ritchie

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An Aberdeenshire man completed a charity challenge this Hogmanay which has seen him run 10k every day in 2021 in memory of his sister.

He has undertaken 400 hours of running, been joined by 78 running buddies, gone through six pairs of trainers, completed two marathons and an elevation gain five times the height of Mount Everest.

Matt Huntington, of Westhill, took on the year-long challenge to run the daily distance in aid of Friends of ANCHOR.

Matt Huntington has completed a 10k run every day in 2021 for charity.
Matt Huntington has completed a 10k run every day in 2021 for charity.

The huge task, which Matt began training for in 2020, began on January 1 2021, and ended with a celebratory run around his neighbourhood at midday 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. So far, he has run more than 4400km, an average of 12.6km every day – and raised more than £27,000 for the cancer charity, which helped support Kathy.

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

Matt, who works as a project manager, said: “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 2020 and when I got around to running again by the October, I started to wonder if I’d be capable of running every day.”

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 in 2021, an effort which has seen him run through Aberdeen 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 late sister Kathy has been forefront in his mind, driving him forward.

Matt was supported by his family throughout the challenge.
Matt was supported by his family throughout the challenge.

He added: “I’ve been motivated by memories throughout the year. April 28 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.

He completed the Loch Ness Marathon with his daughter Amy.
He completed the Loch Ness Marathon with his daughter Amy.

It’s been a family affair throughout the year, with Matt’s wife Emma also a keen runner – and their youngest son Joe 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. 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 5k Fun Run with JogScotland Westhill which saw hundreds of runners race around Dunecht Estate, raising nearly £4000 in the process.

Matt organised a 5km Fun Run with JogScotland Westhill which saw hundreds of runners race around Dunecht Estate.
Matt organised a 5km Fun Run with JogScotland Westhill which saw hundreds of runners race around Dunecht Estate.

His last day of running saw him joined by friends, family and supporters at his local Denman Park in Westhill. The route saw him run laps of the park so onlookers could join in at any distance they chose.

Sarah-Jane Hogg, charity director at Friends of ANCHOR, said: “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 £27,000 in the process.

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

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

Coronavirus restrictions saw him having to complete 10k runs in a hotel room in London.
Coronavirus restrictions saw him having to complete 10k runs in a hotel room in London.

To support Matt’s fundraising, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/365daysofcourageforkathy

To keep up to date with his progress, follow Matt on Instagram by searching for "365daysofcourageforkathy"


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