Run Geordie Run hero Mark Allison has stepped into the Pacific Ocean to mark the end of his marathon slog across Australia.
The charity fundraiser suffered extreme highs and lows during the 82-day run across the country, reaching the eastern coast near Sydney after having earlier cancelled the challenge and with just hours to spare before his flight home.
The 42-year-old’s unwavering determination to finish has won him a legion of fans who cheered him on when at one point he called the run off due to safety concerns.
But the father-of-one is not one for giving up and instead rested his feet, changed his route to end at Shellharbour, not Bondi Beach as previously planned, and continued his coast to coast run.
In the end he covered 2,383 miles, in seven pairs of trainers, extreme weather, melting tarmac and exploding toes.
Speaking from the finish line, Mark said: “I’ve done it! Coast to coast across Australia. From Perth to Shellharbour. And I can’t go any further, because that’s the Pacific Ocean.
“My feet are getting soaked right now, which feels so good. And the money’s still coming in by the hour, which is brilliant.
“I’m exhausted. My feet are in bits but this ocean feels fantastic. I’m going to enjoy a nice rest now.
“Again, I finished this run with my mum and dad and my brother in mind. This one’s for them. It’s been incredibly tough. But I made it.”
His inspiration behind his fundraising has always been his parents, whom he lost to cancer at a young age.
Mark, of Blyth in Northumberland, will touch down in the North East today, but his journey home was not without drama after a car breakdown meant he made his flight just in the nick of time.
But for Mark, he would do it all over again with his key final thought being that he had not let his charities down. “That was a really tough final day,” he said. “It’s such a great relief that I’ve not let the two charities down. The money’s coming in at an astonishing rate. I’m really grateful for that and I’m sure the two charities are as well.
“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.
“And it’s been an incredible journey of immense difficulty. A journey which, many times, I didn’t want to complete. No amount of charity money coming in was worth the pain that I felt, especially on the Nullarbor Plain. It was so difficult.
“But now, with the money rolling in for the two charities, and I’ve just reached the Pacific Ocean. Would I do it all again? Of course I would. At the drop of a hat. No doubt about it. I’m not going to, however!
“I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned a lot about this incredible country. And it’s a beautiful country and one that you must respect. If you don’t respect an environment such as this, it’s going to do you massive harm. And I nearly came to that harm.
“But I can safely say now that I’ll take away the great bits, the victories that I had out here. The fast miles, the climbs, the sweltering heat at 50 degrees Celsius. Those are the memories that will live long.
“I’m just so relieved that I’m the first Geordie to ever run coast to coast across Australia, from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
“It won’t sink in, just like the run across America, for quite some time what I’ve achieved here.
“And thankfully, and most importantly, I haven’t let the two charities down.”
The Australia challenge came two years after Mark ran across America in his first epic challenge.