Determined fundraiser Mark Allison has successfully started the last leg of his run across Australia after reversing his decision to abandon his coast-to-coast feat.
Last week the runner had announced he could no longer continue his 2,600-mile run due to safety concerns, but Mark, of Blyth, Northumberland, backtracked to give one last push to get to the finish line.
Yesterday he marked the New Year by setting off to conquer the last 144 miles to Austalia’s eastern coast over three days.
After his U-turn, the British consulate in Australia stepped in to help move his flight back home from Saturday to Sunday so he can complete his challenge.
Mark says it is mind over matter as he fights numbness to his feet and mental and physical strain.
Mark, dubbed Run Geordie Run, yesterday tweeted: “On the road again. Day 78. 144 miles to the finish line at #shellharbour.
“A strong start. Feeling very good. Long may this continue. Desperate to finish this off in style. Attacking climbs and enjoying it.
“I’ve got until Friday tea time to get off the #humehighway. Then I’ve got all of Saturday to make it to #shellharbour.
“Thanks to the British Consulate I have moved my flight to Sunday. So that’s 3 days left to run 128 miles. It’s looking good.
“Having run 10k on the #humehighway today I can safely say that my decision to change the route was the correct one.”
Mark’s challenge has so far raised £39,260 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Children’s Foundation.
After 73 days and 2,267 miles of searing heat and intense pain in his feet, Mark said it was too dangerous to keep running along one of Australia’s most deadly roads – the Hume Highway.
But within hours he had a change of heart and mapped out a different route.
Mark previously posted online “I can not fail, I can not come this far with all this support and all the effort from the support team to fail and let people down.”
Mark set out from Cottesloe Beach, near Perth, on October 16 and originally planned to run around 41 miles for 62 of the following 70 days, arriving at Bondai Beach in Sydney on Christmas Eve.
However, in early November he suffered severe pain in his feet as he crossed the Nullarbor Plain, almost calling his journey off and only continuing with the help of strong painkillers, and was slowed down by the injury.
That in turn saw him having to run through his rest days, taking just one day off in 67, but as his self-imposed deadline approached – and he had to hand back the hired motor home in which he had lived for the previous 10 weeks – he still had more than 220 miles to go to reach his destination.