Morpeth Rotary Club
Over a year ago, round the world charity runner Mark Allison told Rotary about his fund-raising for St Benedict’s Hospice in Sunderland.
The hospice was so caring and helpful with his mother. He set up the Run Geordie Run project with help from Newcastle United Supporters’ Club.
Having run across Britain in 2007, he ran across the United States in 2011 with a target of £60,000, but raised £105,000. He aimed to run 31 miles a day, but was almost in despair until a party of New York Newcastle supporters turned up and ran with him.
His most difficult run was across Australia in 2013. The heat was 40C, with flies all the way, but he raised £55,000.
He decided in 2014 that the next step would be to run around the world. He began in Lisbon in 2017, travelling through northern Spain, across the Pyrenees and France.
He went through Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia — a total of 2,565 miles. He ran some of the longest daily distances he had ever done and raised £55,000.
A route from Istanbul through Serbia was not possible due to military conditions.
In June he started the next stage from Belgrade, with a plan to run 2,900 miles through Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. He went without a support team, towing a 130kg capsule with solar panel on a buggy. It was just big enough to sleep in.
Serbian customs would not release the buggy. British Embassy staff introduced him to Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The buggy was released the next day.
But he had to be out of Serbia within 72 hours. It did not give him time to prepare and it was very warm so he was eight hours late at the Romanian border.
At Jimbolia he was put up in a hotel by someone. He had two months of great support in Romania. He was stopped by police each day for selfies.
All types of people gave help. It was the most support he had and was often given water and pizza.
Ukraine was the friendliest country, and he had never felt so safe. It seemed the less people had, the more they wanted to give. He was contacted by schools, societies and other groups. His daily target of 31 miles slowed to 20 as he got more involved in cultural life.
It was not possible to fit in Kazakhstan because of visa dates. In the town of Kalush he was put up in a hotel, stayed with a vet, and took part in a festival.
He had 808 miles to run to Kiev. It was the hilliest road. He had raised £42,000.
He got home about a month ago, having covered 9,800 miles and raised £310,000.
Now, with 10,200 miles to go, he thinks there will be problems with his buggy in Russia so may start running from Astana in Kazakhstan next year. From there he will go to China, Japan and New Zealand.
A very impressed Jim Dunn gave the vote of thanks.