New year, new plan, same old determined spirit: That’s the story for Mark Allison, aka Run Geordie Run, the British athlete making headlines for his coast-to-coast charity run across Australia.
Allison set out from Cottesloe Beach, near Perth, back on October 16, and he planned to finish up 2,600 miles later in Sydney on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, the 42-year-old suffered severe foot pain in November, and while strong painkillers eventually got him back on the road, the injury threw him off of his schedule and forced him to run through planned rest days.
Last Friday, he found himself 200 miles from Sydney, and realizing the only way he’d meet a self-imposed deadline and make it home by January 5 would be to run long stretches across the dangerous Hume Highway, he called off his trek.
Allison had gone 2,267 miles in 73 days and raised more than £37,000 for the Children’s Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, but he was nevertheless disappointed to have come so close.
“These are difficult, difficult times for me because I have never failed at anything yet,” Allison said in audio clips posted online, the U.K.’s Chronicle Live reports.
But instead of flying home, Allison mapped out a new route, and on January 1, he’ll lace up once more and look to complete his journey in Shellharbour two days later. If it works out, he’ll still be able to say he’s gone from one side of Oz to the other, even though the modified course is some 40 miles shorter than the original.
“What’s going to happen is, if I’m up for it, if the conditions are right, I’m going to travel back to where I finished,” Allison said, according to Chronicle Live. “I’ll have two days on the motorway then head east for the final 45 miles.”
The final stretch won’t be easy. He’ll need to cover 140 miles and conquer Macquarrie Pass, an area of steep inclines and sharp turns. But he’s used to such things. In 2011, Allison ran from California to New York, averaging 31 miles per day as he raised £105,233 for St. Benedict's Hospice—the facility that cared for his mother as she died of lung cancer—and the Children's Foundation, according to the Run Geordie Run website.
“I cannot fail, I cannot come this far with all this support and all the effort from the support team to fail and let people down,” Allison said, according to Contact Live. “I’ve had so many supportive messages, and I don’t want to let anyone down, ever.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg