Running hero Mark Allison has set off for his toughest challenge to date which will see him cover 2,600 miles across Australia.
The ‘Run Geordie Run’ marathon man flew out from Newcastle Airport yesterday and will land in Perth where he will take eight days to acclimatise before starting his gruelling 70-day journey.
The 42-year-old will aim to complete 41 miles each day, tackling some of the country’s hardest terrain including the desert area, the Nullarbor Plain, and part of the Australian Outback, and hopes to finish the run on Christmas Eve at Bondi Beach, in Sydney.
Mark, of Blyth, Northumberland, said: “This is the third major charity challenge I have set myself and it will be more gruelling and tougher than ever before. There are going to be a whole host of daily challenges, the main issue being the extreme daily distances and temperatures to cope with. This challenge has been even harder to plan, than my previous run across Australia due to the remoteness of the locations.
“I have been incredibly lucky to continue my sponsorship with Sport Newcastle, Chapman Ventilation and Cherry Active as well as attract some new big name sponsors including, Benfield, Identicom and Virgin Money.”
The fundraising legend ran 3,100 miles across America in 2011, and has also previously completed the John O’Groats to Lands End route.
To date Run Geordie Run has raised more than £170,000 and he hopes the Australian challenge will raise at least £50,000 for his two chosen charities, the Children’s Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
He says he hopes to see ex-pats Down Under.
He added: “The start of the run across Australia will be in the sea next to the Pavilion on Cottesloe Beach in Perth, at 7am local time on October 16. That means I’ll be starting at midnight UK time.
“It will be brilliant to see as many locals, ex-pats and exiled Geordies at the start line as possible. I’ve received numerous emails and Tweets over the last 12 months and it sounds like there will be quite a good turnout.
“It will be nice to have a good send off and start the run in good company. Everyone is welcome at the start and I’m really looking forward to getting the run under way.”
Mark will have a support team with him during his challenge, including personal trainer David Fairlamb, who helped him during his American run.
Mr Fairlamb said: “Mark’s run across the USA was an extraordinary achievement but running 41 miles a day across Australia in their summer is bordering suicidal. However, if anyone is mentally strong enough to attack and achieve this challenge it’s Mark.
“The lessons learned in his USA run, I feel, will be critical to the success of this run. Many mistakes were made including, at one point, being 165 miles behind schedule. That simply can’t happen this time. The heat and terrain will not allow Mark to pull back that sort of mileage deficit. This time Mark has a clear game plan and it’s up to us, the support team, to make sure he sticks to it and stays focused.
“If you think being a member of the support team is easy then think again. When Mark is physically and mentally exhausted, which is most of the time, knowing what to say and do for the best isn’t always easy. There is a thin line between pushing Mark too far, which could cause him to become de-motivated, or saying something which will spark him in to life. Humour is often the best tactic and worked well in the USA.”
Mark’s progress can be followed through his Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as his blog on www.rungeordierun.com