Shearer's 'Run Geordie Run' Oz Send Off
Charity runner Mark Allison, better known as Run Geordie Run, begins an epic 2,600 mile challenge to cross Australia today (Wednesday 16 October).
Thousands of miles from his home in North East England (Blyth, Northumberland), Mark set off this morning at 7am Perth time (midnight GMT) knowing that, to successfully complete the journey, he will have to endure the searing heat of 'the outback` and run approximately 41 miles a day for 70 days.
The run is in partnership with the North East`s largest Motor Group, Benfield, and Mark is putting himself through all this to raise funds for two charities that are very close to his heart - The Children`s Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Before he left his native Tyneside, Mark met up with Alan Shearer, a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, to discuss the run and the enormous preparation and training it has required.
Alan says: "It was a pleasure to meet up with Mark and to wish him good luck. What he`s attempting is incredible. When I went to Australia it was seriously hot and not conditions that made me feel like running so I have huge admiration for what he is taking on.'
"I know he has his own reasons to want to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. I hope that knowing he`s helping other people faced with cancer will spur him on when the run gets difficult.
"And it will get difficult, both physically and mentally. I know he`s worked hard to prepare but he also knows there will be dark times when it just feels too tough to continue.
"I was pleased to have the opportunity to see him before he left for Australia and to thank him on behalf of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. He`s doing something very special."
Mark, who has previously run across America for charity, sets off from Cottesloe Beach, Perth and is due to finish on Christmas Eve at Bondi Beach, Sydney.
Sadly, Mark lost both his parents to cancer when he was a young man and he has spent 20 years raising funds for good causes in the North East of England. To date, thanks to the generosity of many kind people, he has raised over £170,000.
Mark says: "It was an honour to meet up with Alan to discuss the run across Australia. Like many people in the North East that I meet, he had a lot of supportive things to say and seemed very appreciative of the task that lies ahead for me.
"To meet one of my idols, a man who I've seen score hundreds of goals home and away, and talk about my running and the charities I raise funds for was thrilling. It will be something I cast my mind back to while running though the outback, I'm sure.
"It seemed fitting that we had our picture taken with the Tyne Bridge in the background. Next time I see a bridge that shape will be in Sydney at the end of the run.
"People keep asking me if I`m nervous. Really, I`m just anxious to get going. I`ve been talking about this run for so long now and it`s time to put those words into action.
"I need to justify the support I`ve had from my sponsors and from the generous people who have already donated to the two charities. I can`t wait to get going."
Mark is passionate about the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation because it funds projects that directly benefit cancer patients from across the North East and Cumbria. The charity`s medical trustees are always looking for the next promising breakthrough in cancer detection and treatment.
Last month (September), Lady Elsie officially 'unveiled` an Imaging Flow Cytometer at Newcastle University funded through a £438,000 contribution from the charity. The ImagestreamX (ISx) allows scientists to see cancer cells that may be circulating in a patient`s blood and is able to analyse up to 4,000 individual cells a second.
For more information about Run Geordie Run Down Under with Benfield please visit www.rungeordierun.com and follow Mark`s progress on Twitter @RunGeordieRun.
If you would like to donate to the two charities, please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.