THE man known as "Run Geordie Run" has completed his epic trek across Australia.
Mark Allison, from Blyth in Northumberland, crossed the finishing line at just before midnight tonight.
He began the run on October 16 and during that time he has raised more than £42,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation.
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The 82-day run, in partnership with the North East’s largest Motor Group, Benfield, has seen Mr Allison endure everything Australia can throw at him, including extremes of temperature, incessant flies, brutal running surfaces, terrifying storms and dangerous roads.
At one point it became too much to handle and he was forced to stop the run completely because of safety issues and the awful condition of his feet. But his determination to succeed for the two charities, and to justify the incredible support he has received, brought about a change his mind.
A spokeswoman for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation said: "Showing great courage, Mark rested his feet, changed his route to end at Shellharbour, not Bondi Beach as previously planned, and continued his coast to coast run.
"Even then he would not have succeeded if the British Consulate General in Sydney, Nick McInnes, had not assisted in helping him change flights home to Newcastle and giving him an additional 24 hours to complete the challenge."
The last 23 miles of the run, including running along the beautiful but dangerous roads through the Macquarie Pass National Park, were completed just hours before his flight back to the UK.
Often sleeping in a baking hot RV, occasionally in a car, and frequently without amenities like shower facilities, Mr Allison has kept going, running up to and over 40 miles in a day and has covered a staggering 2,383 miles in total.
"He trained hard and prepared for heat but the weather in Australia was so hot it was the subject of a Severe Weather Warning and melted the roads. The melted tarmac caused gravel to stick in his trainers, creating a new problem for his ravaged feet," said the spokeswoman.
"Mark has previously run across America to raise money for charity but says nothing could have prepared him for this challenge. The run has taken him to the edge physically, mentally and emotionally."
Mr Allison lost both his parents to cancer when he was young and he has spent 20 years raising funds for good causes in the North-East. This run, like his previous challenges, was in their memory and has greatly benefited the two charities.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was launched by Sir Bobby in 2008 to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.
Sir Bobby’s family have been keeping in close contact with Mark during the run.
Lady Elsie Robson said: “We’re so proud of Mark and very pleased he’s safely completed this challenge. It must have taken every single ounce of his strength.
“To have that kind of determination is incredible really. It’s obviously been a real battle at times. It must have taken so much out of him physically and mentally and I expect it will take him months to recover.
“He’s raised a huge amount of money for the two charities and we know that’s what has been keeping him going.
“We’re grateful to everyone who has donated and helped raise so much money. It will be very well used helping people faced with the pain of cancer.
“Our heartfelt thanks go to Mark and everyone who has supported him on this run. We wish him and Donna a safe trip home to Newcastle.”
Mr Allison is an Ambassador for The Children’s Foundation and Libby Nolan, Fundraising Manager for the charity, says: “We are so extremely proud of our Ambassador.
“He’s been through such a gruelling challenge which has seemed so much harder than anyone had expected. We want to thank everyone for their support and donations! We can't wait to hear all about Mark's journey and thank him by showing what a difference his fundraising will make to the children of the North East.”
For more information about Run Geordie Run Down Under with Benfield please visit www.rungeordierun.com and follow Mark’s progress on Twitter @RunGeordieRun.
If you would like to donate to the two charities, please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.