The parkrun has become something of a Saturday morning phenomenon in recent years.

Today, a new episode takes place in the North-East.

When Paul Smith completes his 49th Durham parkrun today, he will be off to complete the course in Sedgefield. Then the Tees Barrage and he won't rest up until he has completed all 11 North-East courses by the time darkness falls.

That's 11 5k runs, totalling 34.1 miles - all in aid of Acorn's Children Hospice Trust.

Smith, an experienced runner in the traditional club mould who has completed 49 Durham runs and 73 in total, is aiming to complete 2012 miles in 2012 and today marks his 2036 consecutive day of running.

Certain days have been celebrated by landmark events.

On his 2020 day, he ran 20.20 second around the Emirates International Cricket Ground; on February 29 to mark the leap year he completed 29 miles and, on day 2012, he completed 20.12miles from the Tyne Bridge to Durham Cathedral dressed in Union Jack memorabilia.

"It's a crazy challenge, but I like to set targets to keep myself going and keep the run streak interesting,'' he said.

"It's hard to set a time on when I'll be finished, but I expect, taking the driving into account, to be finished by the time it gets dark!

"The reasons for Acorn's is down to fellow Park runner George Nicholson. He was selected as an Olympic torchbearer and one day asked me to complete the parkrun at Maiden Castle with the Olympic torch.

"I was choked, it was his - deservedly so, he has completed every Great North Run and raised thousands for Acorns.

"His granddaughter Emily Hart passed away just before Christmas 2006 aged only six and Acorns played a huge part in providing palliative care for Emily and comfort for her family and friends.

"George cannot do enough for Acorn's after they helped his family.

"So to return the favour of being allowed to carry his Olympic torch, I decided on this challenge.''

Smith has already passed his initial £500 target for the charity and admitted: "Raising so much money has been brilliant.

"Some of the comments I've received been humbling and heart warming - from people I know and don't know, people who have been touched by Acorns in the past.

"This is all about fund raising, me running 33 miles with a touch of sciatica is nothing, you just run through it.''

Donations can be made at

The parkrun 11:

Durham, Sedgefield, Tees Barrage, Middlesbrough (Albert Park and Stewarts Park), Redcar, Sunderland, Whitley Bay, Newcastle, Gateshead, Chester-le-Street.