For 70 days, Mark, of Blyth, Northumberland, will run 41 miles each day, while enduring the soaring heat of the Australian outback to raise vital funds for charity.
The Journal is backing Mark’s epic adventure and in support we launched our 41 Challenge, where we will urge readers to make positive lifestyle changes, such as walking an extra 41 minutes a day or climbing 41 stairs.
Personal trainer David Fairlamb is helping Mark to complete his mammoth task and each week he is giving readers an update on how the adventure is going, as well as a new weekly challenge to focus on.
Today Mark tweeted that it was the warmest 6am start so far and temperatures were to soar to 37C, This also meant the amount of flies increased, if that was possible.
“Flies are a complete nightmare. Can’t eat or drink easily on the run. There’s so many around me. Almost makes you want to give up.”
Even though Mark is running an astonishing amount of miles and burning 7,000-8,000 calories per day he is struggling to eat more than 2,500 because of the heat and humidity. More importantly, he is trying to keep his fluid levels as high as possible. During today’s 33.65 completed he drank over 11 litres of water yet still felt dehydrated.
The 41-mile target was within reach but a severe electrical storm forced Mark to retreat to the RV as it was too dangerous to continue.
To hit that sort of mileage on the hottest day so far was a huge plus for Mark and, like most days, he went through a string of different emotions. This is inevitable and would happen in any sort of run – the key is how you deal with them!
Another hugely impressive 41-mile day, even though Mark was cut off from all social media due to the loss of a signal. This didn’t stop the regular call from Real Radio via the satellite phone. This time it was Justin and Kelly in the hot seats as Gary and Lisa were taking a well-earned week off.
The interview was very emotional as Mark described the dark times he was going through as he fights to complete this challenge – he even admitted at certain times he has wanted to give up – this never happened once when he ran across the USA.
The interview prompted more huge support in the form of good luck messages and, more importantly, donations – which jumped past the £20,000 mark, fantastic news!
After such an amazing day yesterday Mark found the start to day 23 hard, he was incredibly tired and progress was slow from the beginning. He tweeted this after 18 miles: “I’m very tired. Nothing left in the tank. Going to get to Madura (22 miles) and call it a day”
At this point he met a man who Mark named Japanese Alan, who is walking across Oz pulling a 100kg cart. After swapping stories Mark felt inspired and decided to get back out and do some more miles, he tweeted: “30 miles done today. Didn’t think I’d make it past 18.75. A poor day rescued.”
Due to the lack of water, Mark had no clean socks or base layers to wear.
“Ran out of socks so having to wear dirty pairs. The one @jasonstobbs washed with rainwater aren’t dry yet.”
Today was meant to be Mark’s day off, but not a chance – he was too far behind schedule. The old socks Mark is reusing are crusty, which leads to new blisters just to add to his already failing feet.
His incentive today was to pull back as many miles as possible, and he did.
“Finished on 38.1,” he said. “Gutted. Loads of energy left but feet ruined and left calf very painful. In a lot of pain right now.”
That leaves him 67 miles behind schedule, and just so you don’t forget what the lack of water in the RV means:
“To top it off I don’t think I’ve ever smelt so bad as I do right now. 1 shower in 12 days. It’s another baby wipe bath for me tonight.”
After another terrible night’s sleep due to the pain in his feet, Mark tweeted: “My feet are in so much pain. Not sure how many miles I’ll be able to do. I feel sick with pain.”
He dug deep and took his painkillers before setting off on another relentless day. At least Mark still has his sense of humour as every time Jason passes in the RV he does some sort of new dance move – probably more due to his bad feet than a rhythmic movement!
At Mundrabilla he managed to finally get a shower and tweeted: “Unbelievably good to feel clean. Looking at 34/35 miles today. Never thought that was possible at one stage. #painkillers”
The shower really perked Mark up and he continued to reach 33 miles.
Today, Mark broke through the 900-mile point. He is constantly on painkillers, which isn’t great, but otherwise this run would be over.
Mark tweeted: “Lights out in #eucla. Only 7 miles to the quarantine checkpoint and South Australia in the morning. Good night!”
Another day over and tomorrow South Australia – under the circumstances an astonishing achievement so far! 36 miles were completed today.
After 910 miles of running Mark passed through the quarantine checkpoint and in to South Australia without incident. He also managed to use a proper toilet for the first time in two weeks and tweeted it was “pure luxury away from the flies and ants”.
At 4pm Mark’s time, he spoke to Gary and Lisa live on Real Radio. This was a the most emotional I have known Mark during an interview. He highlighted the physical and mental torture he was enduring on a daily basis and his feet were in such a bad way he wasn’t sure how much more pain he could take.
I know as long as Mark is able to put one foot in front of the other he will fight every mile until he gets to Bondi Beach on Christmas Eve.
Mark wanted to have 12 hours rest and allow Jason to continue treating his feet, so he finished the day on 26.8 miles. There are only four days left with Jason as support so Mark really needs to utilise every moment of his expertise.
After yesterday’s emotion Mark took time to reflect on how he was going to continue through to Sydney. Jason spent 2 hours treating his right foot, a blister had been covering the whole of the small toe forcing the nail further down the nail bed. This certainly helps to explain some of the pain.
Yesterday’s emotion really gave Mark the chance to reflect on the reasons why he is doing this run. So many messages of support and encouragement and, of course, donations. This fresh mindset pushed Mark to the quickest 41.13 miles so far despite a strong headwind – a superb day!
Mark tweeted: “Won’t get more than 18. Foot sore. Mentally OK about it. I get punched to the floor. I pick myself up to get punched again. Up for the fight.”
“My injured right foot is the biggest battle that I have at present. It’s worse than anything else I’ve faced in Australia.”
Mark received a lovely message, via the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, from Lady Elsie, who was very keen to hear how Mark has been coping: “You @rungeordierun are in our thoughts. I hope you’re approaching every day sensibly. Your well-being is of utmost importance.”
Mark finished running on 17.28 miles another extememely tough and painful day.
38 miles per day without any rest days until day 70 is what is now required for Mark to finish on time.
Today, 38 miles was complete but that included three lots of painkillers for his feet – this is worrying but lets just hope his feet settle down over the coming days.
The next support man Carlton arrived today. Mark was in attack mode and tweeted: “I’ve taken some right beatings lately by this country. Today, @Australia, I’m kicking you right in the #nullarbor.”
Today was physio Jason’s last day with Mark and he admitted that he had never seen anyone go through as much pain as Mark over the last week.
Today the wind was very strong and Mark tweeted: “60kph wind and getting stronger. This is killing me. The #nullarbor is hitting back today.” He finished on 23 miles totally exhausted. There was some good news – Mark’s feet seemed to have dried out a little, giving a hint of a slight improvement.
The wind had died down but the heat was back and therefore the thousands of flies. Mark felt fresh today after an early finish yesterday and soon powered on to 23 miles.
Mark tweeted: “Sad to see @JasonStobbs leave the team today. He made an excellent contribution to this run.” Mark’s feet had improved slightly again which meant the 38 miles was completed and he even tweeted: “I had a lot more miles in my legs today. Not surprised after only managing 23 miles yesterday.”
Mark ended the day on 35.25 miles. The winds were very strong again therefore it was a constant battle throughout the day.
Mark and Carlton have been continuously reviewing the route. The extra daylight due to the change in time zones is playing a huge part meaning that Mark does not need to run in the dark. His foot is continuing to receive treatment.
Carlton’s previous experience on Mark’s support team (USA 2011) has been shining through and he is really focused on keeping Mark on track as well as keeping the spirits high.
Today started really well for Mark until mile 23, when the RV broke down, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time as Mark always finds 25 to 35 miles the toughest and the temperature was up to 38C. As the support man Carlton waited for assistance, Mark pushed on, tweeting: “Tough day. High temp of 38C. Most flies I’ve seen in 34 days. RV breakdown. Exhausted now.”
The heat has taken its toll on Mark and he finished the day totally exhausted on 28.7 miles.
The mile deficit is creeping up and it will take a titanic effort over the next 36 days to hit Bondi Beach on Christmas Eve.
The last two weeks have been the toughest Mark has faced both here and when he ran across the USA. I have never known Mark to even think of having to quit any of his challenges but this week he was near. The constant agony of his feet, not only as he runs but also at night meaning he can’t sleep has pushed him to the absolute limit.
Had it not been for physio Jason, who is supporting him at present, this challenge would have failed. However, it hasn’t and if there is a way to finish this run Mark will find it, he has the inner strength and mental toughness, lets just hope his feet survive.