In spite of everything he has achieved, the thousands of miles covered and thousands of pounds raised for charity, he still feels he has one more challenge he needs to complete – Mark is going to run around the world.
It will take him until at least 2024 to finish the challenge and he will have to do it in eight segments as family life, work and finances permit.
Mark, from Nedderton, Northumberland, explains: “Australia was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. I had no idea how hard it would be. It almost broke me.
“When I came home I needed time to recover, mentally and physically, and I began thinking about why I run, why it’s important to me and why I feel the need to continue.
“It was clearly all very much on my mind because I dreamt about this world challenge. I could see a map of the world with segments crossed off which I’ve already covered. It sounds daft but that’s really how I came up with this idea.
“I’ve been using the Guinness World Record round the world cycle criteria as a guide. I’m not looking to set any records, I just want to ensure I can honestly say I’ve met this challenge.”
To run around the world, Mark will need to cover 20,000 miles, over four continents and through 23 countries. It will take him approximately 608 days (1 year and 243 days) to complete.
He will need to run through two antipodal points* on the globe and he has chosen La Coruña in Spain and Christchurch in New Zealand.
His challenge began, although he didn’t know it at that time, with his John O’Groats to Land’s End 874 mile run in 2007. He has also already ‘ticked off’ the USA (2011) and Australia (2013), 3,100 miles and 2,384 miles respectively, but still has approximately 13,642 miles to go.
The next segment of Run Geordie Run Around the World is the European leg, which Mark will undertake in 2016.
It brings its own set of challenges, not least running through 13 different countries. Mark will begin on 1 May in Lisbon, Portugal, and will finish 100 days and 3,580 miles later in Istanbul, Turkey, on 9 August. The run is 500 miles longer than the USA and will be completed in the same number of days.
The chosen route passes through Portugal, Spain, Andorra, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.
It includes both the Pyrenees and the Alps and will take in many huge climbs including the Stelvio Pass (9,045 feet) in the Italian Alps. It is a huge step up from his previous runs in terms of distance and elevation and, as well as mental, physical and logistical difficulties, there will be language and cultural barriers to overcome.
Mark adds: “I’ve already begun detailed research on the European leg and my training started in September. There’s a massive amount of climbs on this route and I need to go into it as light and lean as possible.
“I’m thrilled that four support team members from previous runs have signed up for another ‘tour of duty’ and response to my appeal for corporate sponsorship has been fantastic.
“As before, my fundraising target for this run is £50,000. If I can achieve that for The Children’s Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, then I’ll feel like all the hard work is worthwhile.”
Run Geordie Run Around the World will be split into eight segments. The event started in 2007 with the UK leg and is scheduled to finish in 2024.
After Europe, Mark will tackle the Turkey, Georgia, Russia and Kazakhstan leg (2018), then China (2020), Japan (2022) and New Zealand (2024) – all timings are approximate and dependent on Mark’s circumstances.
Mark announced the details of his new challenge within Trinity House, Newcastle’s centuries-old maritime base. It was a very appropriate venue given our region’s long-standing tradition of undertaking overseas challenges.
Captain Ray Nelson, Master of Trinity House, says: “We’re very pleased to help Mark make this announcement today.
“The North East has a wonderful history of producing people like Lord Collingwood and Captain James Cook who were undaunted by overseas challenges.
“Mark’s run around the world is obviously very different to those challenges faced in centuries past but he will require tremendous courage to complete it and we’re proud to support him.”
On behalf of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Lady Elsie says: “Mark’s will to keep going and raise money for the two charities is unbelievable and we were stunned when he revealed his plans to run around the world for us.
“He had a terrible time in Australia and encountered a lot of issues he couldn’t have predicted. He’s talked to us at length about his new challenge and we know his safety, and that of his support team, are uppermost in his mind.
“We’re all so proud of Mark. The planning and effort which goes into this kind of challenge is just incredible.”
Natalina Sutherland, community fundraiser at The Children’s Foundation, says: “Mark never fails to surprise us, with each challenge he puts himself forward for another gruelling test of stamina, both mentally and physically – not to mention the difficulties in planning the logistics of a cross-country or cross-continental route.
“We cannot thank Mark enough for the loyal dedication in supporting The Children’s Foundation, as our Ambassador and our biggest individual fundraiser. Mark has helped to raise the profile of The Children’s Foundation, in creating awareness and raising vital funds to support the work we do across the region.”
Supporters already helping Mark achieve his goals for the two charities include Cherry Active, Sport Newcastle, Chapman Ventilation, SOS Group Limited and Virgin Money.
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 visitwww.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.
* Antipodal points are diametrically opposite points situated so that a line drawn from the one to the other passes through the centre of a sphere, in this case the globe, and forms a true diameter.