RUN Geordie Run fundraiser Mark Allison has been forced to give up his bid to cross Australia - 180 miles short of his destination.
He has tackled 2,267 miles and taken everything Australia could throw at him to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation.
It has been far harder than he could possibly have anticipated, but he has been forced to stop the challenge on safety grounds.
He set off 73 days ago from Perth to run across the continent, and had hoped to end the challenge at Bondi Beach, Sydney.
He has made it as far as Yass, 180 miles away from his target, and has raised more than £37,000.
However, he has run out of time to safely complete the challenge, and both charities firmly support his decision to stop now.
Mark, from Blyth, Northumberland, explained: “I’ve just got too much left to do.
“I’ve reached the motorway section of the run, which was always going to be a potentially dangerous bit.
“But, because I’ve run low on time, I’d need to be running at least two hours a day in darkness and without a support vehicle.
“This isn’t a decision I’ve taken lightly. But ultimately I can’t put myself at that kind of risk.
“I hope everyone who has supported me will understand my decision. I just think this is the run which isn’t meant to be.
“Really I should have stopped at the beginning of November, when I was struggling in the extreme heat of the Nullabor and when my feet were pretty much destroyed.
“I’ve never known pain like it, and I’m proud that I wasn’t defeated then.
“My feet are pretty much numb now, which is another concern.
“I don’t know what I’m running on because I can’t feel it. I know in myself, it’s time to stop.
“I’ve ran through intense heat, and the weather for the remainder of my time in Australia is going to be a lot cooler. That’s frustrating.
“This is really a tough decision to take. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and I hope everyone who has donated to the two charities knows I’ve given this challenge absolutely everything I have. This one was just not meant to be.
“In my opinion, what I’ve achieved in Australia this year eclipses my achievement in the USA in 2011.”
For more information about Run Geordie Run Down Under with Benfield, visit www.rungeordierun.com and follow Mark’s progress on Twitter @RunGeordieRun.
If you would like to donate to the two charities, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.