MORE than 80 days and 2,500 miles later, ultra runner Mark Allison, otherwise known as Run Geordie Run, has finished his marathon trek across Australia. Gavin Havery reports.
HAVING arrived at the Pacific Ocean, Mark Allison thought he was finally homeward bound, having completed the challenge of a lifetime.
But when his car broke down on the way to the airport at Sydney, he almost missed the flight, which was due to take him to Dubai.
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Fortunately, he made it and has been flying overnight, scheduled to arrive at Newcastle International Airport at around 11am this morning.
It would have been a sad end to a 2,500 mile journey that has seen him endure extremes of temperature, incessant flies, brutal running surfaces, terrifying storms and dangerous roads.
The 42-year-old, who was born in Washington, but lives in Blyth, Northumberland, ran straight into the Pacific Ocean when he reached Warilla Beach, Shellharbour, just before midnight yesterday evening. (Saturday, January 4)
He said: “That was a really tough final day. It was such a difficult run. Far more difficult than I could ever have imagined. The physical battle I just about coped with. The mental battle, however, was considerable.
“It was such a relief to get my feet into the Pacific Ocean having left the Indian Ocean in Perth some 82 days ago.”
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.
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.
At one point it became too much to handle and he was forced to stop the run completely because of road safety issues, the heat 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.
He said: “It’s been an incredible journey of immense difficulty. A journey which, many times, I didn’t want to complete. It was so difficult.
“It’s such a great relief that I’ve not let the two charities down.”
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 SUV, 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, in heats of 50 degrees Celsius and has covered a staggering 2,383 miles in total.
Mr Allison, who has a wife and son in Shotley Bridge, County Durham, 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, including one across America in 2011,was in their memory.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was launched by Sir Bobby in 2008 to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer and today its patron, Alan Shearer, described the run as an ‘awesome achievement’.
Sir Bobby’s widow, 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.”
Mr Allison is an Ambassador for The Children’s Foundation and Libby Nolan, fundraising manager for the charity, said: “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 visit www.rungeordierun.com and follow Mark’s progress on Twitter @RunGeordieRun.
If you would like to donate to the two charities, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.