Marathon man Mark Allison has been handed a special award for his epic 2,383-mile run across Australia.
The 42-year-old, of Blyth, Northumberland, endured baking heat and excruciating pain in his feet as he completed an 82-day odyssey.
He raised more than £60,000 for for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Children’s Foundation by covering 40 miles a day in memory of his parents who both died of cancer.
This week, during a surprise ceremony at Northumbria University’s Sport Central, Mark was handed a special award from Sport Central to celebrate his mammoth trek.
Last night Mark said: “I thought I was just going along for a catch-up on the latest situation with Sport Newcastle but when I turned up they had surprised me.
“They got me there under false pretences but it was an incredible evening. I was presented with a nice artistic picture of St James’ Park with the Strawberry Pub. It’s the way I walk to the match so it was really nice. It’s incredible the support I’ve had – without the help of people like Sports Newcastle then the run across Australia would not have been possible and neither would future runs.”
Mark gave a 20-minute presentation in which he detailed his painful run which saw him endure baking heat, flies, melting roads, terrifying storms and aching feet.
The coast-to-coast run began on October 16 and ended at the beginning of last month.
The IT professional said: “People asked me some fantastic questions, things like if I could do things differently what would I do?
“They wanted to know if I appreciated how popular and talked about the run was in the North East when I was there.
“But the truth is I didn’t because I wasn’t in the area and I had no idea what was going on.
“I had one day off work and I was straight back to work.
“The run was really traumatic so I was desperate to get back to normality.
“It was so hard I was picturing myself back at work at my desk. I really appreciate the support of Sport Newcastle and Virgin Money and Benfield.” Sport Newcastle president Malcolm Dix paid tribute to Mark’s achievement after handing over the award.
He said: “Mark is an individual the people of Newcastle should be very proud of indeed.
“He is a true ambassador for the city and we feel his fundraising efforts should be recognised by his fellow Geordies.”
Mark received his award at an exciting time for Sport Newcastle.In 2013 the organisation finally achieved charitable status.
Newcastle greats Sir John Hall and Alan Shearer have agreed to become Patrons with long-serving secretary and former Magpie Group member Mr Dix named as President.
Former Sport Newcastle chairman Ian Elvin and Richard Appleby, former chairman of the RFU, will assume the roles of joint vice-presidents in the new structure.
“The move to charitable status, the appointment of new officials and the implementation of a new constitution will allow Sport Newcastle to move forward with confidence,” added Mr Dix. We are in a great position to continue supporting the city’s Rising Stars and recognising local talent.”