A superfit fund-raiser is set to embark on the latest stage of his round-the-world running challenge – with the help of a specially-designed support unit named Chappie.
Mark Allison, from Bedlington, will set off on the fifth stage of his Run Around The World Challenge – a circumnavigation of the planet covering 20,000 miles in 657 days – in early June as he attempts to raise £30,000 for St Benedict’s Hospice in Ryhope, Sunderland.
The fund-raiser, 46, who uses the social media tag Run Geordie Run, hopes to complete a gruelling 2,900 miles, starting in Belgrade and passing through Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Russia, before finishing in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Joining him on the trip will be Chappie, or the Chapman Ventilation Around The World Buggy, built courtesy of sponsor Chapman Ventilation. Mark will drag it behind him as he pounds the roads, by day using it for cooking and storage, by night, as a cheap and convenient bed.
He said: “It can be claustrophobic but it’s something I’ll be relying on for 100 days to keep me warm and sheltered. This will be the first long campaign with Chappie. There’s still lots of training to be done.”
Mark first started fundraising in 1994, following the death of his mother, Margery Allison, from cancer. The team at St Benedict’s Hospice cared for her and Mark said he was inspired by the treatment she received.
“They gave her as dignified and pain-free an end to her life as possible,” he said. “It’s a debt of gratitude I’ll never be able to repay but I hope to go some way towards it.”
Mark has previously run the Great North Run and both the London and New York Marathons in aid of the hospice. Over the years, Mark has raised £101,000 for the hospice and £295,000 overall for various local charities. This year, he has set himself the target of raising £30,000 for the hospice.
The round-the-world challenge, which is divided into eight segments, will benefit a range of good causes – with stage five earmarked for the hospice. Mark embarked on it in 2007 and hopes to finish in 2024. He has already completed 9,000 miles, with 11,000 still to run.
His main sponsor for the event is SOS Group and Mark said others have also been keen to get onboard.
“Getting to the start line is a huge challenge,” he said. “Getting enough commercial backing is the first challenge, but I’ve got more than I need by two-fold, meaning that more funds have gone direct to charity.”
Mark said he was undaunted by his challenge, despite its gruelling nature.
“The desire to raise funds is as strong as it ever has been,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the different kind of challenge this brings.”
Catrina Flynn, head of fund-raising operations at the hospice, said: “We’re all in awe of what Mark has achieved. We’ll be following his progress online and cheering him on every step of the way.”