Matt Huntington

JogScotland Westhill

I’ve been a leisure runner for several years, and joined JogScotland Westhill in 2019 to help get myself motivated to run regularly, and to get back in shape after a lazy few years. It’s become a big part of my life – my wife Emma and I run with the group twice a week and we’ve made a lot of new friends there.

At the start of 2021 I decided to turn up the heat in an effort to raise money for North-east cancer charity Friends of ANCHOR, having seen first-hand how the charity supported my sister during her treatment for breast cancer. Kathy sadly passed away in April 2018, just weeks before she was due to take part in the charity’s Courage on the Catwalk event.

Kathy was a runner

She’d been a runner herself – she ran 45 parkruns before she passed away. So I pledged to run a minimum of 10K every calendar day in 2021, in her memory. I also committed to run a half marathon at least once a month, and ran the Loch Ness Marathon with my daughter Amy, before lacing up my running shoes again for my usual 10K the following day.

When my challenge finished on 31 December 2021 I had run a total of 4,602km which was an average of 12.6km per day – the equivalent of walking from Land’s End to John O’ Groats over three times. I had completed 14 half marathons and 2 marathons in the year for good measure. I encountered snow, hail and icy conditions – and all the challenges of Covid restrictions.

Early in the year, I made a trip to London to work as a technical official for the Olympic swimming selection trials. Covid restrictions meant I wasn’t able to get out and about in my free time, so I completed the daily distance by running loops of my 8-metre-long hotel room! I use Strava to monitor my runs so all those loops were tracked on the app, just the same as a ‘normal’ outdoor run.  There’s an old joke in the running community that says if a run’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen, so I can definitely prove that I didn’t let lockdown get in the way of achieving my goal!

Many of my runs were close to home, but the challenge also took me to scenic spots including the Lake District and Cairngorm National Park. I also had the opportunity to run with the legendary ultrarunner Nick Butter as he was passing through Aberdeen in June on his epic 5,240 mile long #RunBritain challenge to raise awareness for the 196 Foundation, which was great.

I was really delighted that, as well as my own running, JogScotland Westhill organised a 5K Fun Run to boost the fundraising. It was a great opportunity to invite 200 runners from other local jogscotland groups in the area to enjoy a scenic route through the beautiful Dunecht Estate. The Fun Run was a huge success and raised over £3,900. I originally aimed to raise £3,650 but at the end of the year the overall fundraising total had reached a massive £34,192 thanks to so many generous donations. Thank you to every single person and organisation that supported me!

With my pals from JogScotland Westhill

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. I am particularly grateful for all the support from my friends at JogScotland Westhill who have run with me throughout the year and helped me to organise the 5K Fun Run.

Because I was running in Kathy’s honour, some days were quite emotional, especially on memorable days of the year. Some days were physical hard going due to fatigue, muscle niggles or bad weather, but a little bit of pain on a run pales into insignificance by comparison with the battle Kathy fought. My memories of her still spur me on each and every time I go out for a run.

Spurred on by the success of the 2021 challenge, I have embarked on a new challenge which is called 25+25+250. I’ve set myself the target of running 25 marathons, 25 half-marathons and 250 10km runs. Most of the marathons will be virtual routes in my local area but I’ll also be running the Manchester, Edinburgh and Chicago marathons.

 

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