On Saturday night (11.30pm UK time), Mark completed his incredible 2,383 mile run across Australia for The Children’s Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
He was elated and relieved to plunge his painful feet into the Pacific Ocean at Shellharbour, having set off from Perth, and the Indian Ocean, 82 days earlier.
But, with a flight back to the UK due to take off just seven hours later, he didn’t have long to appreciate the beach.
The run, which is in partnership with the North East’s largest Motor Group, Benfield, was a rollercoaster for Mark. At one point he was forced to abandon the challenge altogether on safety grounds and because of the condition of his feet.
He also needed an extra 24 hours in Australia to complete it, which was only made possible thanks to the British Consulate General in Sydney helping rearrange flights.
Even so, he still ended up running on the day of his flight home, taking things all the way down to the wire. And, even having successfully run across Australia, there was still one final twist in the tale when the car he was using to get to the airport broke down making him late to catch his flight back to the UK.
Thankfully he just made the flight and arrived back to Newcastle Airport today (6 January) to a well-deserved hero’s welcome.
So far, Mark has raised more than £50,000 for the two charities and Alan Shearer, a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, was one of thousands of people following his progress across Australia.
Alan says: “Mark deserves every bit of praise which I’m sure will be coming his way. I’m blown away by what he’s achieved.
“We met up before he left for Australia and he described the run, the distance and all the likely difficulties he’d encounter. To have overcome the heat and the awful problems he’s had with his feet, that really makes him stand out as a man with incredible grit and determination.
“He’s done something very special for the two charities. I’ve seen at first hand the work funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and I know what a difference this money will make. Thanks to Mark and to everyone who has supported him.”
Mark, an Ambassador for The Children’s Foundation, lost both his parents to cancer when he was a young man and has spent 20 years raising funds for good causes in the North East of England
Libby Nolan, Fundraising Manager for The Children’s Foundation, says: “To say we are thrilled with Mark’s achievement is an understatement – he has certainly surpassed our expectations.
“He suffered for so much of run; it made difficult listening at times. This makes his coast to coast run across Australia all the more remarkable.
“To have him back on Geordie soil all safe and sound is great – he deserves a well earned rest.”
For more information about Run Geordie Run Down Under with Benfield 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 visitwww.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.