A MAN bidding to run across America in an epic trek has suffered a huge setback after breaking his ankle in a freak accident.
Mark Allison is halfway through a gruelling two-year training programme aiming to get him in shape to cross America in just 100 days.
But the father-of-one’s progress has been hit with a setback after an accident at the weekend left Mark in hospital needing surgery to his ankle.
His bone snapped during a coast-to-coast trip after a punctured tyre sent him flying from his bike only a few miles near his home in Shotley Bridge, County Durham.
The injury could set his training schedule back months as he battles back to fitness and tries to return to his preparations.
Last night Mark, an employee at Northern Rock, said his first thought was to update his 500 followers on social networking site Twitter.
He said: “I was on the side of the road and I just logged on and let people know. Everyone’s been really supportive and I just felt it was important they got the news.
“I’ve had two pins put in and I’ve been in hospital for a while. I wasn’t going very fast but I was travelling with a group of friends who I do the ride with once a year. We call ourselves the ‘Men of Steel’ but that’s ironic because I’ve proven that wrong. If I have to put the event back by a month then that’s fine. It’s not too important and I know that I can get back to fitness quickly.”
Mark’s mammoth run will take him through 14 states, including California, Nevada and Utah. In crossing the USA, Mark will complete the equivalent of 236 Great North Runs in just three months.
He had planned to leave the sun-kissed sands of California’s Huntington Beach in May 2011 and reach the metropolis of New York 100 days later in August. And in that time he would have covered an average daily mileage of 31 miles.
Mark is undertaking the Herculean effort in a bid to raise £50,000 for St Benedict’s Hospice in Sunderland, which cared for his 68-year-old mother Margery.
Over the last year Mark has escalated his training to a stage where he was completing 19 miles a day, with the eventual aim of increasing that to 32 miles by August.
But now he is facing up to eight weeks in plaster and his injury has also scuppered any hopes of completing a coast-to-coast run with TV celebrity Ben Shepherd for charity.
The pair met over Twitter and Ben has lent his support to Mark’s trans-Atlantic conquest.
Last night Mark, who lives with wife Katy, 36, a project manager at BT, and six-year-old son Jack, said: “I was supposed to be doing a charity run with Ben but now that’s not going to happen. We were suppose to be going from Workington to Tynemouth over five days, doing 29 miles each day.
“My wife is gutted for me but our main focus over the next few weeks will be our son.”