Run Geordie Run fundraiser Mark Allison is getting ready to take on one of his greatest challenges – getting married for a second time.
The marathon man popped the question shortly after reaching the beach in Shellharbour, on the west coast of Australia, at the end of his colossal journey across the land down under.
Speaking to The Journal about his efforts to recuperate after his scorching ordeal, he revealed how he is enjoying having the time to plan the next major step in his life.
“I was very keen to get back to normality as quickly as possible because it was important to try to heal both physically and mentally,” said Mark, who admits he almost lost his mind through loneliness of the run.
“My son has been very supportive and both he and Donna, who is now my fiancé after I asked her to marry me not long after I got to the finish line, are very proud.
“Donna and I have spent two years planning Australia, and now we get a few months to plan for us. And if we can survive the ordeal of my feet then we can survive anything as a couple.”
Mark suffered horrific blisters and swelling as he pounded his way across Australia’s stony roads, suffering ankle ligament damage, a dislocated bone in his foot, swelling that is currently separating his metatarsals and permanent damage to the fatty pads that cushion the soles of his feet.
As a member of his support team, it was Donna’s job to dress the dad-of-one’s wounds and help him keep going despite excruciating pain.
“You can’t run across a country and expect it to go to plan,” said Mark.
“The heat wave was considerable – it was over 40C in the RV every night and we couldn’t open the windows because while we had mosquito nets, there were thousands of tiny flies.
“It was like trying to sleep in a sauna and at one stage I had just 10 hours sleep in four nights.
“But I feel for Donna and the team as they were stuck in there every day as well.”
Since his return to England Mark’s fundraising total has continued to rise and this week passed £54,000, with thousands more set to be added through gift aid. “The only way I kept going was through the encouragement of my support team, and people on Twitter and Facebook, and the emails that I got,” said Mark.
“That, and seeing the money coming in.
“Just to reach the target of £50,000 – a target I just set myself – was tremendous and I’ve had more individual donors this time than I did for America. And since I’ve been back people keep coming up and asking how my feet are.
“The amount of empathy and support from people has been fantastic.
“They want to put an arm around you and say well done.”