Westhill runner launches 365 Days of Courage for Kathy

Westhill runner launches 365 Days of Courage for Kathy

While many people have been increasing their daily steps during lockdown, one Aberdeenshire man has taken it upon himself to run 10k every day in 2021.

Matt Huntington, from Westhill, pledged to run the 10k distance every calendar day this year, in memory of his sister Kathy Parfitt, and in a bid to raise funds for Friends of ANCHOR.

Matt aimed to raise £3,650 through his 365 Days of Courage for Kathy challenge, but has already banked almost double that amount, with over £7,000 on his fundraising page. The 48-year-old is on track to cover nearly 4,500km throughout the year; the equivalent of walking from Land’s End to John O’ Groats, three times.

Matt, a project manager, had been a leisure runner for several years but turned up the heat in an effort to raise money for Friends of ANCHOR, having seen first-hand how the charity supported his sister during her treatment for breast cancer.

He said: “Kathy passed away in April 2018, just weeks before she was due to take part in the charity’s Courage on the Catwalk event. I’m running in her honour, so some days have been quite emotional. This Wednesday [April 28th] would have been Kathy’s 46th birthday, so she will very much be forefront in my mind.”

To mark Kathy’s birthday, Matt will complete a special half-marathon run, taking in Kathy’s two favourite 5k Parkrun routes at Hazlehead Park and Aberdeen Beach, with a connecting route that will see him visit the site of The ANCHOR Centre, which is currently under construction at the Foresterhill campus. He will also pause at the locations of some of the large painted anchors which were produced in 2017 to mark Friends of ANCHOR’s 20th anniversary.

The half marathon will be Matt’s fourth run of that distance this year, as each month he has also committed to swapping out a 10k run for a half marathon. He will also run the Loch Ness Marathon with his daughter Amy on October 3 – before lacing up the trainers again for his usual 10k the following day.

“Running in the days after the marathon later this year will be tough, but every day means every day, no excuses, and no days off,” said Matt. “Some days have been hard going, whether that’s due to fatigue, muscle niggles or bad weather, but a little bit of pain on a quick run pales into insignificance by comparison with the battle Kathy fought. My memories of her spur me on each and every time I go out for a run.”

Matt has over 1,400km under his belt so far this year and has encountered snow, hail and icy conditions on his travels, but most recently he had to adapt to clocking up 10k from the four walls of a hotel room in London.

“Earlier this month I was in London working as a technical official for the Olympic swimming selection trials. The support team and athletes were working under strict restrictions to keep everyone safe, which meant we couldn’t leave the hotel in our free time. I had to get creative to log my 10k each day, but the hotel room was 8m long which gave me enough space to run back and forth and track the distance on Strava!”

Erica Banks, Communications Lead for Friends of ANCHOR, said Matt’s challenge had inspired everyone at the charity. “Matt’s dedication to date has been nothing short of amazing, and we’re very grateful for the heartfelt commitment he has made, to keep going right through to December 31. 

“Day in, day out, he gets the miles in, wearing his red T-shirt every step of the way. 10k a day is no small feat but so far, Matt has actually been averaging closer to over 12k which really is going the extra mile. His effort has paid off with an incredible number of generous donations, and every penny of every pound he raises will be directly invested to support patients.”

Matt added: “All of Kathy’s family and friends miss her dearly and we remember our times together with fondness. I decided to raise money for Friends of ANCHOR to say thank you for the support they provided to Kathy and her family. She would be so proud, grateful and have a huge smile on her face for everyone’s incredible generosity in her memory.”

To read more about Matt’s challenge or to donate, visit: Virgin Money Giving | 365 Days of Courage for Kathy

To keep up to date with his progress, you can follow Matt on Instagram by searching for ‘365daysofcourageforkathy’