Tuesday, 16 September 2014

CherryActive supporting the 2016 run

There were many factors which led to the successful outcome of my journey across the USA and Australia. One of them was a recovery drink originally recommended to me by Northumbria University in 2011. As I was training in extreme temperatures on a treadmill in the Uni's environmental chamber it was a chance conversation that led me to learn about the product. I soon made contact with the product manufacturer and the rest, as they say, is history.

The product in question is CherryActive and it gives me immense pleasure to announce that they will be supporting the campaign for my 2016 run.

The following sums up my experience and knowledge of CherryActive:
  • 30ml of CherryActive diluted in water (just like cordial) taken after exercise will minimise or, in the majority of cases, completely eradicate the muscular soreness that would be expected to follow during the following days.
  • CherryActive is made purely from Montmorency Cherries. There is nothing else added. 
  • 30ml of CherryActive will assist in getting a better night's sleep.
  • It's a versatile product and can be used in smoothies and many other recipes.
  • It comes in various forms; Bottles that, once opened, must be kept refrigerated for subsequent use. A handy 30ml shot sachet which doesn't need to be kept in a fridge. For those that don't like the taste of cherries, it's available in capsule form. Finally, you can use the dried Montmerency cherries as a snack or use in many recipes.
  • In 2005 John Carey founded CherryActive after discovering that Montmorency cherries were a natural remedy for his gout pain.
The following video was recorded just before the run across Australia and expands on the above points:

As you may be able to tell, I'm a huge fan of CherryActive. I make no apologies for sounding like a salesman on commission (which I am not by the way). The product works amazingly well and almost everyone I know has tried it, is still using it and swears by it. I even know some people who use it as a hangover cure! They shall remain nameless!

Founder of CherryActive, John Carey had the following to say this afternoon:

"CherryActive are happy to continue our support of Mark Allison, AKA Run Geordie Run, for his next grueling challenge. Here at CherryActive, we are not only blown away at Mark's achievements to date, but share his dedication and total commitment in doing something you believe in, whilst raising awareness and much-needed cash to a cause you hold so dear. 

Well done Mark, proud to work with you. 
John Carey and the CherryActive Tea"

I'd like to say a huge thank you to John and the kind folks at CherryActive for their continued support.

If you would like to try CherryActive then I've arranged a 10% discount code for use on their website. The code is "RGR1" and can be used at the checkout at www.cherryactive.co.uk.

The secret is out!

The build up to the next major run, to be held in 2016 continues. Of course, I'm meeting representatives from The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation next week to get the "sign off" on the run.  I was, however, lucky enough to meet up with former Newcastle United and England captain Alan Shearer last week to explain all about my plans.

Alan Shearer is a patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and was very supportive of my run across Australia. I remember the following message was sent at a time when I needed it most while running down under.

It was a surreal situation. Not only was I telling a closely guarded secret to someone, I was telling it to one of my all time Geordie heroes. 
I talked in depth about the route I'd chosen for 2016 and I think the picture below was taken just as I was saying "I didn't realise just how huge a country ******** actually is". Of course, you'll get to find out just what those asterisks are hiding in 5 weeks time! 

I could tell from his reaction that he thought my plans for 2016 and beyond were very ambitious. Having ran down the UK and across the USA and Australia does help to give these kinds of conversations credibility however.   

Alan's parting words were "That is a mad plan but best of luck.". This is just what I wanted to hear and to receive the endorsement of a patron of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation never mind a Geordie legend is getting things off to the best possible start.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Final total for the run across Australia

I'm very happy to report that the final total raised for the run across Australia in aid of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation is £55,126.60. If you made a donation then, on behalf of the 2 charities, thank you so much for your amazing generosity. All of the messages and donations made can be viewed at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.

Since I began fundraising in 1994, a grand total of £212,478.40 has been raised for those charities named below:

2013 - £26,001.04 (The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation)
2013 - £29,125.56 (The Children's Foundation
2011 - £50,638.91 (St Benedict's Hospice)
2011 - £55,078.89 (The Children's Foundation)
2008 - £2,601 (The Children's Foundation)
2007 - £34,108 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
2005 - £1,477 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
2004 - £1,228 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
2003 - £4,140 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
2002 - £1,560 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
2001 - £2,470 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
1999 - £1,650 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
1998 - £250 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
1997 - £1,000 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
1996 - £500 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
1995 - £250 (North of England Children's Cancer Research)
1995 - £200 (St. Benedict's Hospice)
1994 - £200 (St. Benedict's Hospice)

I find that sum of money quite staggering and I know that my parents, had they still been alive to witness my fundraising events, would have been incredibly proud.

Over the years, I've seen first hand just how much of a difference your donations make to the various charities. My Mam was a patient at St Benedict's Hospice. She saw out her final days there as she lost her battle with cancer. The palliative care that she received from the Hospice meant that she had as comfortable and dignified as possible end to her life.

I've been lucky enough to see some of the world leading cancer treatment technology funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. You can read more about the ImageStream Imaging Flow Cytometer or the ultra-compact ABT Molecular Imaging Biomarker Generator as well other projects funded by the charity here.

I sit on the Regional Small Grants Panel at The Children's Foundation. That panel has funded many projects in the local community over recent years. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however as the charity funds many other initiatives whose aim is the health, happiness and safety of children in the region. You can read more about that here. I know that the charity have some ambitious plans for the future and I will be learning more about that next month.   

I'll never be able to thank everyone who has donated so far in person. However, I like to think that over the years I have thanked as many people as I possibly could. The kind support shown towards my events is something that I never take for granted.

If you have supported my events and the various charities in the past, then you have done an amazingly kind thing. You really should be very proud of yourself for helping to make a real difference to the well being of people in the North East of England. Once again, thank you so much for your kind support.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

What's next?

It's been 9 months since the run across Australia finished and you could say that this blog post is long overdue. I've used this time to unwind from the trauma of Australia and try to make sense of it all. What went wrong and why? What went right and why? Where do I go from here? These are questions that I ask and get asked on an almost daily basis.

I think I'm finally coming to terms with the trauma associated with the run across Australia. When I  put myself through something as difficult as that run, I found that my weaknesses were exposed and I was on the brink mentally.  I think that that those long hot Summer days down under were as close as I'll ever come to having a nervous breakdown. You just don't run across somewhere as inhospitable and desolate as Australia and get through it mentally or physically unscathed.

I'm very lucky to have an amazing support network and this proved to be the difference, in the end, between success and failure. My Australia support team (Graham, Melanie, John, Jason, Carlton, Dave, Ian and Donna) played a blinder out there in very difficult circumstances. The support didn't end there with thousands of followers and well wishers on Twitter and Facebook also playing their part. I could go on and mention Real Radio, nufc.com, BBC and ITV and The Journal as well as my sponsors. I'd be here all night if I was to mention everyone who'd played a part in the success of the run across Australia.

The run across Australia like all other events that went before it can be judged on 3 things. Did I make it from the start on the west coast of Australia to the finish on the  east coast of Australia? YES! Did I manage to engage the general public and (virtually) take them on the journey with me? YES! Finally, and most importantly, were the general public generous enough to hit the fundraising target for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation? YES! 

The feelings and memories associated with those questions grow stronger every day. What is diminishing, I'm glad to say, is the overall trauma, feeling of paranoia and panic and the horrible remembrance of the pain I had to endure every day. It has diminished to a point where I can  genuinely say that I miss the day to day challenge that running 40 odd miles a day during the Australian Summer brings. Or the American Summer for that matter! 

I often find my mind drifting to certain sections and situations of the run across the USA and Australia. I see the many places, people, mountains, trees, lakes, deserts but mainly roads vividly and my thoughts and dreams are filled with these most incredible moments from the previous runs.

A common interview question over the last few years is "Are you obsessed with running?". The answer I've always given is along the lines of "No. If it wasn't for the fundraising aspect I wouldn't do any running". This is now only partly true. In a bizarre twist of fate, I have found that I have become very obsessed with the very thing that has caused me so much physical and mental pain and exhaustion. I'm not kidding when I say that I would like nothing more than to be able to get on a plane tomorrow to the USA or OZ and start running again from Huntington Beach, California or Cottesloe Beach, Perth. I think that I've acquired the same mindset that Forrest Gump had when, for no apparent reason, he just set off running. Of course, I have 2 very good reasons for running in the form of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation. 

I make no apologies for writing what some may think is absolute nonsense. The desire to run extreme distances is very much there and, like I said in an interview in The Journal in January, "I'm only half way there".  

I've been fundraising for 21 years and with a lot of luck and good health I'll be able to do the same for the next 21 years (or more). I had a dream back in January about the future of my fundraising and running. All of a sudden the direction of my future events became very clear. 

I'll be revealing details of my next run, scheduled for 2016, sometime during the week commencing 13th October. Knowing how running top to bottom of the UK and across the USA and Australia captured the public's imagination, I'm very excited to talk about the 2016 run and beyond. 

I'm meeting with The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation on the 22nd September to get their "sign off" on my plans. As per usual, there will be a high degree of difficulty and risk associated with the 2016 run. I don't for one minute want to put the charities in a position they don't want to be in so this is a very important step to be taken before any actual ones are.  It's the first major milestone for 2016 and despite what I'll be telling them, I'm confident of having their acceptance.

The next step on the journey to 2016 is to start training. I'm looking forward to getting into David Fairlamb's gym tomorrow. Dave was very quick to offer to train me again. Unfortunately, I've spent the last 9 months eating bacon sandwiches, chocolate and drinking the odd beer here and there. Dave and I have got our work cut out once again!

For reasons that will become clear after October's announcment, it is imperative that I go into the 2016 run at a much lower weight than previous events. For once, I'm confident that I'll be able to achieve this. 

It's not all about weight though. Unlike the build up to the run across Australia, I feel like I have my mental "edge" back. The experience gained in the USA and Australia are going to stand me in good stead. I have approximately 600 days before the 2016 event. I'm up for the challenge. Let the long battle for fitness commence tomorrow!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The final day! Day 82

(Sunday 5th January)

This was it.  We had finally reached the final day of the run across Australia. 23 miles to go.

Day 82 was a 3am alarm call.  Just enough time to dress Mark's feet and get him on the road. There was no room for error, our flight was scheduled later that day.

It was an incredibly dark start to the day and most certainly the earliest of the tour.  Mark was kitted out in his high vis and head torch hoping for light traffic and safe conditions until sunrise.

"The starry sky is incredible this morning. 1st mile done in complete darkness. Sunrise is 90 minutes away. #rgrdownunder"

"Legs feel really good so far. Codeine has foot pain under control. 21 miles to the #Pacific."

"If my timing is decent I should be running down #MacquarriePass just as the sun rises. This is a good script today."

"Thank you to my headline sponsor @drivebenfield for helping to get me across Australia. #enjoythejourney #rgrdownunder"

My current view #rgrdownunder 

The anticipated arrival time at Warilla Beach, Shellharbour, was 11am.  This would make it a very late evening for the UK followers; "I'll try and get this finished at a decent time for UK followers".

"Currently at 2546ft. I think my descent to the #Pacific starts now just a few miles east of #Robertson."

"18 miles to #Shellharbour…."

"Here comes the sun. Right on time. I'm the blue dot. Hello #Macquariepass."

"The view from the top of #macquariepass. That's the #pacific Ocean in the distance. #rgrdownunder"

And so the descent began..I drove ahead to check out the route, the research suggested that this wasn't going to be pleasant. 

After 12 nail biting minutes I reached an area where it was safe to pull over, not quite at the bottom of the pass.  Blind hairpin bends, fierce oncoming traffic and no sign of a hard shoulder became a harsh realisation of what Mark was attempting on foot.  As I waited mid way down the pass I observed the traffic heading towards Mark.  These drivers looked experienced on the pass and were certainly taking no prisoners.  I wonder if they had ever been faced with a pedestrian on the route.

After what seemed like an eternity later I caught a glimpse of Mark heading down the last twist to reach me at my location.  To say it was a relief to see him was a huge understatement.  

"I'm almost at the bottom of #Macquariepass. That was tough. Already battered toes forced into the front of my shoes."

"I'm almost at the bottom of #Macquariepass. That was tough. Already battered toes forced into the front of my shoes."

"12 miles done. 11 to the #Pacific Ocean."

"I was at the top of that pass an hour ago. Stunning part of the route across Australia."

The progress was fantastic and Mark had no intention of making any stops until he hit the Pacific Ocean.  Just as I pulled over with 5 miles to go I noticed that Mark had someone with him.  I presumed that it was someone who had stopped to check that Mark was ok - a common feature of the last 82 days.  How wrong could I be? Just when the glory of the finish line awaited, up pops a Geordie! Pete Smith, a friend of nufc.com, lives in Sydney and had followed the journey throughout.  As luck had it he was in the area with family and kindly offered to join Mark as support for the final stretch.

With a new friend in tow, my duties were relieved and I was sent to the finish line.  As I approached the finish line of the run across Australia I was blown away by the beauty of the area.  There had been many twists along the route and this was certainly one of the better outcomes.  A perfect setting.

The sun was shining and we had a small group of people to cheer Mark on for the final few metres.  Dani (our contact from Shellharbour) had gathered a few friends and family and my best friend, Caroline, had managed to persuade a friend, Marina, to make the journey down from Sydney.  The anticipation was immense for us waiting there at Warilla Beach, I can only imagine people back in the UK being glued to phones, laptops and PC's in the same manner.  This was really happening.  The run was almost complete.

"4 miles left. Feeling good."

"Now heading directly towards the #Pacific. No more than 1 hour left."

"Impossible to keep up with Twitter. I'm just concentrating on running as fast as I can. 3 miles to go. I can smell the #Pacific"

2 miles to go

In a moment of panic, I could see that Warilla Beach was quite a size.  How would Mark know the exact point where we were waiting for him? His mobile was in airplane mode so I couldn't get a message to him.  This could have been a disaster.  Dani's partner, Greg, set off out on the route to intercept Mark and ensure that he was directed to the correct point. Meanwhile we continued to wait until we got the signal from Greg that Mark was on his way.

We waited and we waited and we waited some more.  Then finally, Dani's phone rang.  He was on his way.

Just minutes before midnight, UK time, 11am local time, Mark made it to the Pacific Ocean.  Relief, excitement, pride and emotion all rolled into one.  He had finally made it.  2384 miles from Perth, Western Australia, to Shellharbour, New South Wales.  The dream was finally a reality.  

Mark made his last few strides down onto Warilla beach and didn't stop until his feet were soaked in the Pacific Ocean.

This was the first picture.  The finish line.  Warilla Beach, New South Wales, Australia. 

There was only a short period of time for Mark to come to terms with what he had achieved, to take some pictures and to record a brief interviewed to be shared with the UK media who were waiting with baited breath to get this footage ready for release.

Here are a few of moments that were captured as Mark had finally completed his mission of running coast to coast across Australia.

Making sure that the GPS watch was stopped.

With lifeguards Chris and Connor from Warilla/Barrack Point Club

With Greg...  

…as if the story of the run across Australia didn't have enough adventure already, we found out that Greg is a former Olympian! He represented Australia in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta! Amazing!

Once the photos etc. had all been taken the next mission was to get back to Sydney, pack, check out of the hotel and get to the airport.  This was going to be tight.  First things first though, the car needed to be unloaded, we were still carrying all of the supplies that we had transferred from the RV.  Porridge, pasta, snacks, water - the list was endless.  Dani kindly offered to take these supplies off our hands, for all of the unopened products she would take these to the local food bank - from one charity to another.  Fantastic!

A quick bite to eat for Mark, obvious choice below, and we were back on the road, this time to Sydney.

We sadly left Warilla Beach, a beautiful area with fresh memories made, and set off on the highway.  After 4 miles the car flashed with a warning; engine overheating, switch off.  This was not good.  We pulled over onto the hard shoulder and frantically searched for roadside assistance details.  With the call logged we were informed that it could take up to an hour for someone to reach us.  This meant an hour less to get back to Sydney and to get to the airport.  

With the engine switched off, we lost the luxury of the air con.  Typically it was a blistering hot day.  There was no way that we could sit and wait in these conditions safely.  Fortunately Caroline and  Marina weren't too far behind in their rental car and raced to reach us.  Mark took shelter in Caroline's car while we frantically tried to think of ways that we could get back to Sydney.  Time was ticking.

The roadside assistance company had sent a text saying that they were 10 minutes away, brilliant.  Only the 10 minutes turned into 40 minutes and counting… Having 2 cars now pulled in on the hard shoulder on a busy highway was a bit of a risk.  One oncoming car making the wrong move could have been fatal.  We needed to think fast about how we could get back to Sydney on time.  The only option would be to unload our bags and transfer them to Caroline's car.  Marina would very kindly wait with our rental car.

Luckily a police officer working on highway patrol had seen us and pulled over to assess the situation.  Cue the 'girl card' and the Run Geordie Run leaflet.  While Mark was inside the other car slowly coming to terms with what he had achieved us girls worked on the sob story.  The Police Officer was very understanding and tried his best to hurry along the roadside recovery (in another mad coincidence, he had family from Newcastle upon Tyne!).

After almost an hour and a half (and 2 angry phone calls later) the tow truck arrived.  While we were waiting we had agreed with the rental company that the car could be returned directly to them and that Caroline and Marina would drive us back to Sydney. A perfect plan.  Only the truck driver was having none of it.  As if it wasn't hot enough to start with, the temperature was definitely rising with this one.  Having the Police Officer with us certainly helped, tempers were starting to flare.  Another 10 minutes later and we had a resolution.  We left the tow truck to return our vehicle and we were now on the road back to Sydney, a journey that would take 90 minutes.  We were cutting it very close to make it to the airport on time.

A mad dash to pack once we made it back to our hotel and we were back on the road.  Destination: Sydney Airport.  We arrived 30 minutes before we were due to board.  Just enough time for Mark to do a couple of telephone interviews and to grab some free wifi.  As we checked the flight details, the harsh realisation of what we were about to embark on hit.  Our first destination was Dubai before travelling onwards to Newcastle.  Although it obviously wouldn't be this straight forward.  Instead of our original flight on 4th January taking us direct to Dubai, our new flight had us heading to Bangkok first.  A 17 hour flight. In economy class.  

Needless to say this was an incredibly uncomfortable flight, even more so for Mark.  His body had no time to recover from the run and his feet were extremely painful.  Add altitude and feet swelling to the equation and we had a huge problem.  Mark was in agony.  The cabin crew were able to offer some pain relief but little else.  The flight was full for the entire journey through to Dubai and there were no seats with extra leg room. 

Luck struck when a very kind lady gave up her seat next to an emergency exit.  This meant that Mark could raise his feet and try to get some sleep for a few hours.  The journey continued through to Dubai but the nightmare didn't end there.  The flight arrived late and left us only 20 minutes to board the next flight back to Newcastle.  Only we had a 10 minute taxi to the next terminal first.  We were faced with a very immobile Mark and 10 minutes to board. The ground staff didn't appear to be too helpful and showed little concern.  We weren't going to make it.  I ran to find a member of airport staff who was driving a passenger transport vehicle to ask for assistance.  They advised that as we were very close to the departure gate they could not assist.  In an Anneka Rice fashion I raced through to our gate with Mark hobbling behind.  They were still expecting a few other passengers and we still had time to board.  Relief!  The bad news was this flight was full too so once again Mark was faced with limited leg room for the next 8 hours back to Newcastle.  I approached a member of cabin crew, Ben, to let him know that Mark would need some pain relief once we took off.  Ben advised that the crew from Sydney had called ahead and updated him of the situation.  If there was anything else that he could do to help Mark just needed to ask.

So, we had just made it in time for take off and home was our final destination.  Mark took advantage of Ben's offer and ended up sitting with his feet up in the crew jump seats while snacking on food from first class.   After 26 hours from departing Sydney we finally made it back to Newcastle.  There was no other way to be greeted than by the typical North East weather!

We made it through to baggage reclaim to be greeted by a member of the airline staff.  We were lucky enough to have made our flight from Dubai but our bags hadn't! Not a massive issue for clothing, coming from summer to winter, only the house keys were in the case.  In the blind panic of packing in Sydney this had completely slipped our minds!  The airline couldn't apologise enough but having raced for the flight ourselves we knew that this would be a likely outcome.

The airline very kindly offered us a driver to take us home, that would have to be with detour first though to pick up our spare keys.  Once we had confirmed all of the necessary details for our baggage, arrivals awaited.  We had been informed that there was a small gathering of friends and media waiting to greet and congratulate Mark.  We made our way through the doors and we were finally home!

It's only appropriate that I now close the laptop and let Mark continue the story.  I'm sure that there are many more tales and pictures to follow, I doubt that I have even scratched the surface with my updates.

Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and share the journey.  It's never been ideal having someone else tell the story but I do hope that you appreciate the reasons why this had to be the case.

It's been an amazing adventure and certainly something that I'm sure none of us will forget too quickly.  A huge huge thank you to everyone who has sent messages of support and of course, the whole reason why we ended up in Australia, for the donations.  The charity fund has surpassed Mark's target of £50,000.  There were times when Mark really didn't think that this was achievable.  As of today it is £52,290.  The kind spirit and generosity of the general public has been mind blowing.  Every single penny will be very wisely spent by the two charities; The Children's Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  Please be sure to check out their pages to read more about how this money helps.

That's all for now folks, stay tuned for more updates from Mark and of course, for news of the documentary which we hope will be available later in the year.

Donna x 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The final days! Day 81

(Saturday 4th January)

Day 81 needed to be a healthy slog of miles to ensure that Mark reached Warilla Beach at a reasonable hour on the final day.  Aside from the pressures of getting the run finished on day 82, our flight was also scheduled for later that day. No room for error!

We were fortunate enough to be treated to a motel room by one of Mark's sponsors, Chapman Ventilation.  This meant that Mark was able to get a reasonable nights sleep and prepare his body for the miles ahead.  

The day started once again on the Hume Highway, fortunately this would only be for a short period of time and Mark would soon reach the Illawarra Highway.  That said, the risks of the busy highway remained.  After 17 miles Mark had ran out of water and we struggled to find a safe meeting point.  Being on a busy highway with Mark on the opposite carriageway was proving difficult.  Thankfully an entrance to a quarry presented itself and we were able to park safely and Mark had a quick lunch break.

Mark made it onto the Illawarra Highway early afternoon but was once again greeted with the bitumen road surface and a small hard shoulder.  More negatives but an absolute positive was 39 miles remaining until Mark met with the Pacific Ocean.  

I drove past Mark on a couple of occasions towards the next meeting point.  To say that he was running well was an understatement.  The adrenalin had clearly kicked in and the run across Australia was almost complete!

"33 miles done. Feet in a lot of pain. Feel sick. Very tired. Otherwise all is great."

"I've stopped looking at my GPS watch. Not sure how far left. I think I've ran about 37 miles. Maybe more."

"I'm on my last legs now. Everything is beginning to ache. My right foot is in agony but I'm well overdue painkillers."

"I'm battling this one out to the bitter end. The #Pacific isn't too far away."

My current position. 26 miles left. The impossible dream is becoming reality.

The pace was incredible, I had to whizz ahead as dusk approached and pass Mark the high vis vest and head torch. After 13.5 hours he was still running.  This was a man on a mission.

At almost 9pm Mark reluctantly called it a day on 42 miles.  This left 23 miles to the Pacific Ocean.  As he clearly wasn't ready to give in we pulled into the roadside and discussed how Mark could safely run through the night to get to the finish line at Shellharbour.  The top and bottom of it was that this would not be safe.  Amongst the tactical discussion I took a call from Dani,  a resident of Shellharbour.  From the powers of social media we were put in touch with Dani who was to help map out the most efficient route to get to the Pacific Ocean and finally complete the run across Australia (to add to the coincidence, her Dad is originally from Gateshead!).

Foolishly Mark and I thought that the pending Macquarie Pass would be an uphill followed by a twisty descent.  How wrong could we be?! Dani politely informed us that our current position was the highest point, we were all downhill from here.  Mark's mind was clearly still racing, was it possible to get down this now while he was still in his stride? Dani advised that the evening mist had set in and that it would be a dangerous move to tackle the pass in darkness. There was no way that this could be achieved in these conditions, it would have to be an early start and the run would come to an end late morning on day 82.

Dani suggested that we drive to a picnic spot not far from where we were parked.  We sensibly took her advice and drove ahead a few miles.  Here we were greeted by some policemen on a late shift conducting random breath tests.  I escaped the interrogation this time as Mark spent time asking advice as to whether approaching the pass in the dark would be advisable.  It obviously wasn't. Fortunately there was a motel right next to where we had parked so we took the opportunity to check in (for all of 5 hours!).  The final day of the run across Australia was only a blink of an eye away….