Today is the day (Sunday 1 May), Mark ‘Run Geordie Run’ Allison begins his 3,400 mile run across Europe to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation.
The 44-year-old software developer has set himself the phenomenal charity challenge of running 20,000 miles around the world and in order to complete the Europe segment of the run, he will need to run 38 miles almost every day for the next 100 days.
Mark has already run the length of the UK, across the USA and Australia, and he is very aware of the enormity of the task in front of him.
The Europe run, sponsored by SOS Group Ltd., is 300 miles further than his run across America and, incredibly, will be completed in the same number of days. The route takes him through 14 countries and includes the Pyrenees and Alps mountain ranges, one Giro d’Italia and 15 Tour de France climbs.
Mark, a father-of-one from Bedlington, Northumberland, says: “I’ve been down to Guincho Beach and picked my starting point. It’s just a rock in the middle of the beach but it’s important for me to know exactly where this challenge begins.
“The start of the run across Europe promises to be the most difficult of any of the four segments around the world run so far.
“After dipping my toes in the Atlantic Ocean and running across Guincho Beach, I’ll need to run 10 miles up and over the Sintra Mountains in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.
“Now I knew this park would be hilly but there must be a 2,000, maybe 2,500 foot climb there.
“That means the first 10 miles on day one are going to be extremely difficult, then I have to run another 27 to finish the day. I’ll reach the parish of Silveira, 37 miles north of the start line, at the end of day one.”
Since arriving in Portugal on Thursday (28 April), Mark has been training and preparing for the run, as well as updating his blog (www.rungeordierun.com) and keeping supporters up-to-date through social media.
The feedback Mark is receiving from people in Portugal, where Sir Bobby Robson managed both FC Porto and Sporting Lisbon (between 1992-1996), has been fantastic.
Mark adds: “The local people in Lisbon have been very welcoming. There seems to be a common theme amongst them whenever the run across Europe is discussed and that’s utter disbelief and amazement. I’ve also heard the word ‘louco’ used quite a lot.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to so far remembers Sir Bobby’s time at Sporting Lisbon and Porto. It was interesting to hear one lady’s account of a curse that he allegedly placed over rivals Benfica.
“I subsequently found out that it was actually Hungarian coach, Bela Guttmann, who stated that “not in a hundred years from now will Benfica win a European Cup.”
“I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has made a donation, especially in the last few days.
“I’ve spent that time getting mentally prepared for this run and focussing on the immense challenge ahead.
“The last few days of final preparation have gone very well with support team members Jimmy and Donna working hard.
“The motor home that will house us, and then a further 11 support team members along the route, is very small and compact. There is a place for everything and everything has its place.
“The weather forecast for Sunday’s route is excellent with the sun expected to shine all day and a high of 22 Celsius.
“At certain points over the next 100 days I’ll be running at almost five times the altitude of Sunday’s summit and in temperatures twice as hot. No matter how hard I think day one will be, I know that the most difficult running is still to come.”
Mark begins his run from Guincho Beach, Lisbon, Portugal. All being well, he will finish in Istanbul, Turkey, 100 days later.
Mark’s headline sponsor is UK-based office technology and services company, SOS Group Ltd.
He is also receiving support from Fresh Freight Group, Chapman Ventilation, Cherry Active, D-Line Cable Management, Brooks Running Shoes, Virgin Money and Sport Newcastle.
These generous commercial sponsors are enabling Mark to raise additional charity funds through t-shirt sales and events as well as ensuring he is kitted out with the specialist equipment and footwear he will need.
Like Mark, the Run Geordie Run Support Team consists entirely of unpaid volunteers who are taking time off work to join the challenge.
Paying for their own travel expenses, they will accompany and support Mark each day, helping him cope with the physical and mental pressures and providing vital encouragement as the miles take their toll.
For more information about Run Geordie Run Around the World please visit www.rungeordierun.com and follow Mark on Twitter @RunGeordieRun.
If you would like to donate to the two charities, The Children’s Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.