RunAway Challenge: Burnley FC ultra-runner ready for 450 miles in 14 days

Having already covered 1,193 miles as part of his mission to run to every Burnley FC away game for charity, Clarets fan Scott Cunliffe is preparing to tackle one of the toughest parts of the fixture list as he gears up to jog to London three times in 22 days.
Scott Cunliffe (left) with Burnley FC manager, Sean Dyche.Scott Cunliffe (left) with Burnley FC manager, Sean Dyche.
Scott Cunliffe (left) with Burnley FC manager, Sean Dyche.

Keen to inspire people to embrace the physical and mental benefits of exercise, Worsthorne-born Scott (44) is taking on the RunAway Challenge this season and has already completed seven lung-busting runs to various grounds, taking over two million steps and completing the equivalent of 45 marathons.

A fitness fanatic who recently returned from doing charity work in Indonesia and East Timor, Scott used running as a therapy to help with his PTSD, which came about as a result of the violence and poverty he witnessed in South East Asia, and is now using it to raise £10,000 for Burnley FC in the Community and various other social programmes.

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"I'm feeling refreshed and ready for it," said Scott ahead of his run to Selhurst Park for the Crystal Palace game on December 1st. "I know the route a lot more now having run to London a couple of times. I've got the Tottenham/Arsenal double coming up: 450 miles in 14 days, so that's going to be pretty tough."

Never one for idleness, former St. Theodore's pupil Scott has been doing short, sharp 5ks to keep his cardio levels up during the international break, but says that there's only one thing which is guaranteed to work in terms of recovery: a Burnley win.

"Three points is one of the best recovery things I can get!" Scott said. "I come back bouncing for the two days after: recovering mentally is a massive aspect."

With his most recent run being to Leicester City's King Power Stadium for the home side's first match since the tragic helicopter crash with killed, amongst others, Leicester City's beloved chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Scott says the run took more out of him than normal because of the emotion of the occasion.

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"I was totally exhausted; I couldn't think for mental fatigue," he explained. "I was sat next to the Leicester fans when they showed that tribute video and to see 30,000 mainly grown men crying before a football game was an exceptionally rare occasion, and you can't help but get drawn into the emotion.

"I went on the march before the game, so it was very emotional, even from the Burnley side," he added. "It was more than a football game."

Mental health in football, whilst once taboo, is becoming more and more prevalent in conversation, and Scott is keen to extol the virtues of exercise on the mind, saying: "This [running] has all come around largely as a recovery and as therapy. I wanted to connect with nature - that's a massive part of recovery and of being in a normal mental state at any time.

"Having been in a good place for most of this year, I wanted to put myself on the edge and know how far my mind and body could go," added Scott, who has been joined on some of his runs by fellow football fans. "The biggest boost is to see donations and support coming in from across the football community.

"It's heartwarming to see the power of football. If you can get through this, what can't you get through?"