Scott Cunliffe, a lifelong Burnley fan, is putting his passion of football and running together as he sets off on the RunAway Challenge, which will see the Clarets fan cover 3000 miles of soil as he raises money for Burnley FC in the Community and a number of other charities.
The Clarets may not be having the best start to the season, finding themselves 17th in the Premier League. But for Scott, who is currently making the long haul down to Selhurst Park for the Clarets game with Crystal Palace, it is about reaching his own goal, which he has fulfilled so many times competing in Ultramarathons across the globe.
The 44-year-old began his running career over a decade ago, which was merely to gain fitness, but before long, running turned out to be a tool to overcome the stresses of life that Scott was dealing with.
He said: “I started about 13-14 years ago. At first It was genuinely just to get fit. When I started, I didn’t have a watch as I ran the same route back and to for a while.
“I wasn’t suffering to much from depression and anxiety when I started, but my mental condition started to get worst, which is when I upped my running as it would always refresh my mind and get rid of stress.”
— #TheRunAwayChallenge (@sekott) November 29, 2018
With Scott spending many years of his life abroad, it meant that he could enjoy some wild experiences in some exotic landscapes. He has run in many of the Earth’s few continents, including Asia, South America and Oceania as well as Europe.
“I ran competitively at the Tarawera Ultramarathon in New Zealand. That was in 2017 where I also ran Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultramarathon in Indonesia, which was a 70km circuit where you are running around volcanos, so as you can expect it was quite hot.
“I ran in Northern Thailand last year, as well as a couple of races in Argentina, which was placed along the mountains of Patagonia, where I was trudging through ice fields which you can imagine was tough.” He added.
The Clarets are currently seven away days deep into the season, with Scott successfully arriving on time for each and every one. But when asked which had been his favourite, Scott could not decide, but did pinpoint the 269 mile opening day trip to Mark Hughes’ Southampton as the most daunting, but one that he relished.
“Probably the first one, Southampton, as you’re asking yourself what are you doing, I also got injured which didn’t help, but to think back on it, it was amazing but tough.
“The run to Cardiff was brilliant, the weather was good but the run to Manchester City was excellent, as it was the first one in a group. I had four other runners and it was such good fun.”
With the festive season fast approaching, the Clarets will make long trips to London twice within a week, as they visit Tottenham at Wembley and Arsenal at the Emirates. For Scott, this will be one of the toughest tests the season can offer as he closes in on the half way mark of the campaign.
“The double run to Spurs and Arsenal in the space of two weeks will be my toughest challenge so far. It will be 14 days of torture. At least I’ll be able to avoid all the stresses of shopping with it be so close to Christmas (he joked).
“But the finishing off bit is always the hardest part because I am there, but I still have to run that extra marathon, the last marathon is like doing the paperwork at the end of a big job. No one likes paperwork.” He added.
Scott is currently way ahead of schedule having raised over £7,400 which is just under three-quarters of his intended target, as he looks to raise £10,000 in total. All of the money raised will go to Burnley FC in the community- the official charity of Burnley FC. The funds will then be distributed with 50% being donated to local charities in Burnley, as the other 50% is spread equally across the 19 other Premier League clubs community trusts’.
He finally added: “Running is just a great sport, it is so simple in what you do, and you do it cause you really love it, it’s just fantastic. It makes me feel alive as you’re living your whole life in a day. You have the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs.”
You can follow Scott’s journey on Twitter and Instagram by following the page @sekott. You can also donate to Scott’s cause by visiting his Just Giving page which is named the The RunAway Challenge.