Thursday, 15 December 2011

BBC North East Sports Awards

Last week I was invited to the BBC North East Sports Awards in Gateshead. I'd been looking forward to this event for a while and I hoped to be inspired by some "proper" sports personalities. 

After giving a quick interview to BBC Newcastle's Total Sport show it was time to take my seat. Sitting 2 seats away was the Newcastle United Assistant manager, John Carver and we had a good chat about all things NUFC. The empty seat next to me was for the Newcastle United Captain, Fabricio Coloccini. He turned up just before proceedings got underway.

The hosts for the evening were BBC Newcastle's Charlie Charlton and Jeff Brown. The audience was full of sporting legends such as Bob Moncur, Jack Charlton, Steve Cram, Mike McLeod, Chris Cook and Stephen Miller to name but a few.

Some of the awards categories were the Disability Sport Award, Team of the Year, Unsung Hero and The Jackie Milburn Award. 

There was a shift away from the awards with a Judo display and it was good to see Charlie Charlton getting involved. Following the Judo Charlie started talking about the next award; Sporting Inspiration. Without naming names at this stage, Jeff Brown called it "the inspiration not only of this year, but of any year". What followed was quite simply one of the proudest moments of my life as footage was shown of my run across the USA. It was at this point that I realised I had won the award. 

I received the award from Fabricio Coloccini himself and talked to Charlie Charlton about the run across the USA, the 2 charities, the amount raised and also gave a mention about the up and coming run across Australia. 

Winning the award was brilliant obviously. To be able to talk about the USA and also Australia to such an esteemed audience was another great piece of PR. 

Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray won the main award of the evening. I had a good chat with him after the ceremony had finished and he was very interested in the USA run; asking plenty of questions.

It was also great to catch up with Stephen Miller and Chris Cook. I had a good long chat with Bob Moncur before I left too. 

As I was on my way out, the Head Coach of Gateshead Thunder asked if I'd like to train with them in the build up to Oz 2013. Watch this space for news on that next year.

All in all it was a fantastic evening. Thank you to the BBC for bestowing such a prestigious honour on me.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Northern Echo Local Heroes Awards

I was lucky enough to win the Northern Echo Local Heroes Award for "Remarkable Achievement" a few weeks ago. Quite appropriately, a remarkable runner called Paul Smith nominated me for the award. This guy has ran for over 1800 consecutive days. That is no mean feat believe you me.

The award was presented by former Manchester United centre half Gary Pallister, Northumbria Water's head of communications Alistair Baker and TV presenter Kay Murray. It was nice to talk to Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew afterwards too. We last met, of course, back in Columbus when I tossed the coin before the match. That all seems like such a long time ago now! Also in attendance was boxer, Tony Jeffries and it was great to talk to Steve Cram about the USA run and also the Kielder Marathon.

The best thing about the award was that it came with a £250 cash prize. That went straight to the 2 charities and saw the fund pass over the £104,000 mark.

Thanks again to Paul Smith for the nomination and to The Northern Echo for such a wonderful night and esteemed award.

Monday, 21 November 2011

And the winner is….

Recently, I've been lucky enough to win 2 awards; Derwentside Physical Activity Achievement of the Year and the County Durham Sport Physical Activity Achievement of the Year. While I was running across the USA, winning awards never entered my mind. Completing the run and raising double the £50,000 sponsorship target for St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation is all the personal reward and satisfaction I would ever need.

That said, when these awards do come along, I'm ever so grateful and, moreover, extremely proud to receive them. Imagine, my utter surprise when I won another award last week. Not only another award, but not one directly related to physical activity or, indeed, the IT industry in which I currently work. 

I was delighted to be invited to attend the PRide awards hosted by the North East Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) at the Hilton in Gateshead. There were many awards up for grabs and the new PR girl for Run Geordie Run, Katherine Shenton (pictured below), won the Best Freelance Practitioner award.

Despite having a more than succesful UK PR campaign this year,  I never quite got the PR right in the US. Having Katherine on board is going to help take the campaign to the next level for the trans Australia run in 2013. I'm a firm believer that to be successful, you have to surround yourself with positive, like minded experts. The list of such people is growing very nicely and Kathryn joins the likes of David Fairlamb Fitness, The Cradlewell Clinic, Real Radio, The Journal and Tyne Bridge Harriers. Work is ongoing, behind the scenes to add to this list and the early indications are that Australia 2013 has the potential to be every bit as successful as USA 2011.

Meanwhile, back to Friday and the PRide awards! I won the COMMUNICATOR OF THE YEAR award. Following the presentation of the trophy I was able to deliver an acceptance speech. My opening line was "Communicator of the year! Wow! I don't know what to say!". My planned funny line was greeted with silence and I could just about make out a tumbleweed at the back of the room.

That duff line aside, I was very pleased with my speech and it gave me the chance to talk about the Run Geordie Run brand, the success of the campaign and to thank those in the media who'd helped make USA 2011 a success; Real Radio, ITV Tyne Tees,, BBC and The Journal.

I closed by reflecting on the fact that I thought my parents would have been very proud of my award. It's these profound moments in life that make running 3100 miles for charity so extra special.

I got to meet some very interesting people and I thoroughly enjoyed the PRide 2011 event. I'd like to say thanks to CIPR for their hospitality and for giving me such a prestigous award.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

It's Australia!

I wish I had a pound for every time that I'd been asked about the next big run due to take place in 2013. I really do apologise for keeping everyone in suspense but it has taken 2 months of research to devise a run that sees a huge step up in difficulty compared to the run across the USA. I was also mindful of getting approval from my family and talking about the risks involved before letting everyone else know.

This morning, I announced, on Gary and Lisa's Breakfast show on Real Radio, that the next big run would be ……….. *drum roll* ………... across Australia in 2013 in aid of St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation. As per usual, we had great fun on the show and Producer Mac had created an appropriate music package to be played in the background during the announcement.

The 2600 mile route from Perth to Sydney via the Nullarbor Plain and Adelaide will take 70 days. To break that down, that's 41 miles of running for 64 days with 6 full rest days built in. Luxury! I've got no doubt, at this stage, that the timing of those rest days will be on of the key factors in the success of this particular run. 

It is a coast to coast route starting on October 16th 2013 in an exact location that is yet to be decided on the coastline of Perth. The final day of the run will be on Christmas Eve 2013, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, finishing up on Bondi Beach (Hopefully with my family waiting there).

Since news broke on Real Radio, I've spent the day talking about the run to various publications including The Evening Chronicle, The Journal and The Northern Echo. Later in the day, I was thrilled to appear on ITV's North East Tonight show with Ian Payne and Pam Royle. I rounded the media day off with a visit to the BBC to talk to Simon Pryde, John Anderson and Marco Gabbiadini on Total Sport. It was also great to see a piece on the eve supportive and well read website

Aside from the conventional media, "rungeordierun" was trending in the North East on Twitter and there was a lot of support on Facebook too. All in all, a great day's publicity for Run Geordie Run and the 2 charities. The reaction I've received from all quarters has been one of "You're mad!". This tells me that running across Australia during the Summer is the right level of difficulty to warrant another £50,000 fundraising target for the 2 charities.

Unlike the previous runs I've done over the last 17 years, the run across Australia will need commercial backing. It cost me £15,000 to fund the run across the USA. I quite simply can't afford to do that again. Mrs Run Geordie Run would lynch me! It was for that reason alone that I'd always intended to make the run across the USA my final fundraiser. So for the first time in my fundraising career it's time to find a sponsor that will pay for the tour itself. 

Given the amount of interest in Run Geordie Run and, more importantly, the funds that have been raised, I owe it to the 2 charities to give it one more shot and try to raise another £50,000. If successful, this would take the total fundraising to over £200,000 since 1994. 

The last run attracted thousands of sponsors and was consistently backed and encouraged by Ben Shephard, Tony Jeffries and Mark Beaumont to name but 3 famous folk. It was talked about at length on the Chris Moyles show on Radio 1, on Real Radio, Metro Radio and BBC Newcastle. The run was featured on, BBC news, Newsround, ITV news and received a huge amount of national publicity during the Great North Run. The run featured heavily in the local press, including many front pages on The Journal, and has had features in numerous glossy publications. 

The point I'm making here is that there is a lot of familiarity of Run Geordie Run and the support that goes with it is first class. At the benefit of the 2 charities, it would be prudent to take this forward into a new running campaign. I simply can't call it quits after the USA. I've got to attempt another run; a far more difficult and dangerous run with logistical issues that are quite simply unfathomable at this point in time.

I'll be working with David Fairlamb Fitness again and also my membership of Tyne Bridge Harriers is going to be of great benefit too. 

Australia represents new and more complex challenges on numerous levels. If it's only half as dramatic as the run across the USA then we're all in for a treat. The hard work starts here for Australia 2013.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Run Geordie Run USA 2011 commemorative limited edition t-shirt

Run Geordie Run USA 2011 Limited Edition commemorative t-shirts are £12 each with the full £12 going to The Children's Foundation (Charity No. 1000013). Please use  the order form below then follow the instructions on how to pay by

Monday, 3 October 2011

Great North Run 2011

I had hoped that this year's Great North Run would bring some closure to the events of the Summer in the USA. With so many exciting things going on associated with the run there is very little chance of that in the near future, never mind at the Great North Run.

I was so grateful to Nova for giving me number 3100 in recognition of the number of miles I ran across the USA. They labelled it as a “Lap of Honour” and that’s exactly how it felt from start to finish.

On the way to the start line I spoke to Anna Foster live on Metro Radio. Of course, I’d only met her for the first time at the Leisureworks Sports awards. She’s the kind of person that you feel like you’ve known for ages and I really enjoyed talking to her.

I arrived at the start area of the Great North Run at 0745 where another Anna Foster was waiting to talk to me. This Anna from BBC Radio 5 Live was just as lovely as the other one. The interview went out just after 8 am.

I managed to have another good chat with Mark Robson, Sir Bobby Robson’s son.  He’d also been talking to 5 live. If there’s one thing I’ve found out about the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation this week it’s the reason why it was set up as it was by Sir Bobby. It is an NHS charity, making use of already existing staff, administrators and facilities. That’s the way Sir Bobby Robson and his family wanted it, meaning that the funds raised go to the exact place that they should; funding the reasearch and treatment of cancer.

The next interview was with Jonathan Edwards. The third Team GB Olympian I've met this year after Chris Cook and Stephen Miller. This was a brief interview that was shown during the live BBC coverage of the run.

Olympians, it seems, are like buses. Soon after I'd met Jonathan Edwards, it was brilliant to meet another team GB member and one of my good supporters of the run a cross the USA; boxer Tony Jeffries. Regular readers will remember that Tony was training in LA at the time when I started running across the USA. He drove to see me off but was too late having gone to a different pier in LA. The support that he subsequently gave me via Twitter and in his column in the Sunday Sun was first class though. 

Speaking of good support, it was nice to meet up with another good supporter of Run Geordie Run; George Caulkin. George writes for The Times and is a patron of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. 

After speaking to George I was asked to meet a group of runners who were raising funds for MacMillan Cancer Support. I passed on some "words of wisdom" which I doubt they needed as they looked like an experienced and fit bunch. 

It was a busy old time in the start area of the Great North Run. I'd been on site for over 2 hours but the time flew by with so many people to talk to.

Last but not least to meet and have my photo taken with, was former Miss GB, Sophie Gradon. Sophie,  from Newcastle, was running to raise funds for Sara's Hope Foundation which is a charity "…...inspired by the late Sara Hoburn, runs a holiday retreat in Crete offering respite for children and young people with cancer and their families.".

As the start of the 31st Great North Run drew closer I met my "chaperone" for the day; Paddy. It was his repsonsibility to see me round the course safely and to try and get me to finish as close to my target time of 2 hours. Also accompanying me was David Fairlamb who ran last year's run in 01:30:00. I really couldn't fail with these 2 setting the pace. Also joining us at the start was Anna Foster from Metro Radio and Philippa Tomson from ITV.

It was a frantic start to the run with thousands of runners in the zones behind soon overtaking. I saw a nasty collision in the first mile. I do hope that the girl I saw getting injured was ok in the end. The image of her stayed with me throughout the run.

We soon lost Anna but Philippa stayed with us for 4 miles or so. It felt very strange running with thousands of people around me. It was a far cry from the lonely miles in the USA.

I managed to spot Alison from the Cradlewell Clinic for a quick wave on the Tyne Bridge. I was wished "Well done" throughout the race by so many people. This was the most pleasing aspect of the day for me and just added to the "lap of honour" feel to the day.

I stopped at the 6 mile point to talk to yet another Olympian; Denise Lewis. She seemed well briefed about my run and wished me luck for the future event. It was an absolute honour to talk to her.

Another highlight of the day was when I ran through the "Bupa Boost Zone". Justin Lockwood from Real Radio was on hand to "big me up" and it gave me a heck of a spring in my step.

I got to the finish line in 01:59:06. It was easily the most comfortable half marathon I've ever ran. Paddy and Dave had been great company. I didn't have to do much thinking with Paddy setting the required 2 hour pace.

I stopped to talk to Phil Jones from the BBC at the finish line. Phil had recorded a piece that was broadcast during the live Great North Run coverage. It was an excellent 3 minute showcase of the run across the USA. I was very pleased that my trusty Brooks Glycerin shoes were shown during the piece. Millions of people will have seen that.

There were a lot of familiar faces in the hospitality tent and it was nice to share stories of how the run went. I said goodbye to Paddy who'd done a brilliant job of seeing me round the course safely and on time. I could get quite used to having a chaperone! 

I chatted to Simon Pryde (below) from BBC Total Sport who had been running, cycling and kayaking across Scotland the day before running the Great North Run. What an effort!

Thanks to the BBC for some excellent coverage; Opening titles, interviews with Jonathan Edwards and Denise Lewis and the 3 minute piece by Phil Jones. All in all, my 10th Great North Run, while not my fastest, had arguably been my most enjoyable. Being congratulated by so many random people all the way round the route was very special. Meeting so many Olympians was very special too. 

Finally, thanks to Nova for giving me number 3100 and making the run a true "lap of honour'.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Can't wait to try these….

Coming in October to a specialist running shop near you….. The Brooks Pure Connect. They truly are a thing of beauty. When I first saw this model I thought "I've just got to have a pair of those".

The Pure Connect are like a leaner, meaner version of the shoes I finished the run across the USA in; Brooks Glycerin 9. They are a so called "minimalist" shoe with several interesting features. It goes without saying that I'm a high fan of the Brooks DNA technology that is used in my Glycerin 8 and 9 shoes. I'm curious to know how exactly how that feels in these shoes together with the "Ideal Heel", "Toe Flex" and "Nav Band" technologies.

I'll post a full review on these shoes once I've tried them later this month. They will soon be available from Northern Runner in Newcastle whose blog states "The Brooks Pure Project is Brooks designers answer to minimalist footwear. However, it’s not minimalist. It has Brooks revolutionary MoGo mid sole material combined with DNA cushioning to give it that soft but firm responsive feel that you only get from a Brooks shoe. The Pure Flow has an inverted heel to aid the runner in landing just under their centre of gravity. This is further aided by the heel to forefoot differential being only 4mm. A split toe allows the big toe to act independent of the rest of the foot aiding in balance and allowing a much stronger push off. A flexible band goes around the foot to aid in fit and increase the stability. All these features coupled with Brooks anatomicial last makes the Pure Flow a superb shoe. Delivery is expected in October. These shoes will only be sold through our Newcastle store not online or telephone mail order. So, why not pop along and give them a test drive on our concrete corridor.".

For more information on Brooks Pure Connect and the 3 other models in the Pure Project range please click here.

NE Fit Magazine

If you pop into WH Smiths this month, in the North East, you may see a familiar face among the ranks of magazines. Look out for an interview with Run Geordie Run in NE Fit magazine.

Priced at only £2.99, NE Fit magazine is the North East's only regional health and fitness magazine.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Run Geordie Run interviewed

For those of a black and white persuasion, please look out for a recent interview I gave in issue 261 of The Mag. It's available in many newsagents and supermarkets in the North East and also on match day around St James' Park.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Coming soon…...

Coming soon at the bargain price of £12 is this Limited Edition Run Geordie Run t-shirt to commemorate the succesful 3100 mile run across the USA. The front of the t-shirt (left below) shows the run details and the names of the 2 charities. Also present, are 2 stars which will also feature on my new running kit for the next big run in 2013. The stars represent my 2 major runs to date; John O'Groats to Lands End in 2007 and California to New York in 2011. 

The back of the t-shirt (above right) has the designer's take on the Manhattan skyline. An image that was a sight for sore eyes for me on the 8th August after 100 days of running. Watch this space for details on how to order coming soon. 

Thanks to Dave Shenton of Shenton Creative for doing a brilliant job with the design.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Leisureworks Sport and Physical Activity Awards

I was asked way back in January to give a talk at the Leisureworks Sport and Physical Activity Awards. The challenge was to talk about the run across the USA in just my 20 allotted minutes. I now have an outline for an entertaining speech and I just leave it until the final delivery to ad-lib a bit and slot in various bits of humour. I actually won an award when I was 12 for public speaking. Who knew that one day I'd be doing it in front of so many people.

The awards night was held at The Empire Theatre in Consett.  It's a venue that has had investment over recent years and is full of character. Also full of character was the lovely Anna Foster (pictured below) from Metro Radio who was the compere for the evening. She is so down to earth and I really enjoyed listening to her banter on stage.

The evening started with entertainment from the brilliant dancers instructed by Leisureworks' Community Dance Instructor Kristin Abbott. This was followed by an impressive demonstration of Shikkari Karate Kai. It was like a mini variety show right in the middle of Consett. Brilliant stuff!

Those guys were a tough act to follow and when Anna introduced me onto the stage I knew I had to be on my game.

I really enjoyed talking about the run across the USA and all of the challenges that it brought. I even managed to get a few laughs here and there, much to my surprise. The crowd were great and I finished off my set with a 3 minute video which summed up perfectly what I'd been talking about. After a lovely round of applause I introduced a Zumba demonstration, led by Zoe Price. I just about managed to vacate the stage before the act started. This had been my biggest concern of the whole evening. Although, with the adrenalin still pumping after my speech I could have quite fancied a bit of Zumba on stage with the girls!

I spent the interval talking to some lovely people who were very interested in the run and had lots of questions to ask. One such person was Wayne Abbott (pictured below) who had a running background himself.

After the interval, it was down to business. There were 13 awards categories and it was brilliant to see so many worthy winners receiving their trophy. The whole process went very smoothly with Anna Foster pulling the strings on stage and various people presenting the trophies. I bet the Oscars don't run that smoothly!

Imagine my utter shock when, during the Physical Activity Achievement of the Year award sponsored by Northumbria Water, I saw my name on the screen with the other nominees. It is no word of a lie that my first thought was "What a coincidence. There's another Mark Allison here tonight.". When my name was read out as the winner, I even paused for a few seconds just to make sure that the other Mark Allison didn't get up to receive the award. 

I was absolutely gobsmacked and delighted when I got up on stage to receive the award; a nice glass trophy. It was just one more unbelievable thing that has happened to me since finishing the run across the USA. My name was actually in the programme as a nominee. I'd read the thing from cover to cover before the event started. I didn't even see my name, so the whole thing was such a surprise. I'm so sorry for pipping the other 5 nominees to the post. I'm sure we were all worthy winners in our own way.

Other than the public speaking trophy that I won 28 years ago, I've never won a thing. The little beauty pictured below is going to take pride of place in Run Geordie Run HQ. It means a massive amount to me as did the actual nomination, as did the reception I received at the end of my speech.

Without taking the award into account, I had a fantastic night at the awards ceremony. There's a lot of talent in Derwentside. 

The icing on the cake was the fact that Shotley Bridge and Benfieldside Tennis Club won the Sports Club of the Year. It's not only my local tennis club but the man who should have been there to accept the award, Phil Atess (pictured below), played a huge part in my run across the USA. Unfortunately, Phil was actually playing in a tennis tournament and couldn't be there on the night.

Phil ran from John O'Groats to Lands End in 1992 raising over £10,000 for charity. Phil coached me at Shotley Bridge and Benfieldside Tennis Club. He was responsible for proving to me that a person can run considerable distances with the right amount of training and preparation. His own experiences in running have influenced me greatly. It is for that reason that I dedicate my Physical Activity Achievement of the Year award to Phil Atess.

Thank you to the Cradlewell Clinic

I've been visiting the Cradlewell Clinic in Holly Avenue, Jesmond for the past 4 weeks. My recovery is progressing so well as a result and I'm in excellent hands with Alison the podiatrist. She really is worth her weight in gold! 

Not only do I receive first class treatment but each session is an education. I ask so many questions during the sessions and I've learned a bit about many aspects of the treatment, recovery and bio-mechanics in general.

Thanks to Alison's expertise, all sections of my legs are now in tip top shape and the integrity of the skin and nails on my feet has improved so much since I finished running across the USA. 

I'm continuing to play the waiting game as the nerves in my feet are taking a while to regenerate. My left foot is making excellent progress with a lot of sensation returning to my mid foot and a few toes too. Due to last year's broken right ankle (now called the Paddy Power Bionic Ankle of course), progress with the recovery of my right foot has been much slower. Alison has taken measures to speed up the recovery process but, so far, the benefits have only mainly been seen in my left foot. 

The current state of my right foot means that both the midfoot and toes go completely numb after 5 miles at a slow pace (9 - 10 minute miles) or 3 miles at a fast pace (7 - 8 minute miles). This isn't going to stop me running as fast as I can at the Great North Run on Sunday. Hopefully, I can get round in under 2 hours.

I'll be seeing Alison again on Monday to assess any damage and to discuss the ongoing treatment during this period of rehabilitation. It goes without saying that, I wouldn't hesitate in recommending the Cradlewell Clinic to anyone who needs podiatry treatment. They even do sports massage, gait analysis and acupuncture!

Friday, 16 September 2011


Last Sunday I had the honour of starting the Newbiggin Sprint Triathlon. It was a serious event with the final chance to record a qualifying time for next year's European Championships at stake. 

The first wave of 3 got underway just after lunch. The conditions were very difficult with the swimmers being battered by the waves. The RNLI were on hand to help a few people out who got into difficulty. I was very impressed with the safety aspect of the swimming. Each and every participant deserved a medal in my opinion for braving those unforgiving waves. I talked to a lot of the athletes after the race and most of them said that they had difficulty in seeing the first marker buoy in the sea such were the height of the waves.

Shortly after I sounded the horn for the second wave to get underway I made my way to the main street in Newbiggin to see the cyclists. I thought the swim was dangerous but it had nothing on this section of the race. 

Some of the folk in Newbiggin decided to start crossing the road without giving much thought to the speeding cyclists passing by. I witnessed 3 near misses and possibly the most skilful piece of cycling I've ever seen. The competitor in question swerved to avoid, what seemed at the time like being, a fatal collision between cyclist and pedestrian.

It all made for a gripping spectacle! Thankfully things calmed down on the running section and I watched each and every competitor finish, including the very last lady who I saved special applause for. I was thrilled to talk briefly to the spectators and hand out trophies in a number of categories. Pictured below are Joyce Mark (2nd overall woman) and Jane Mooney (1st overall woman).

Pictured below are James Wilson (2nd overall man) and Ben Newman (1st overall man).

All in all, it had been a cracking day's racing from a determined set of athletes. I've never before seen triathlon this close up and it really opened my eyes to how difficult, and often dangerous, a sport it can be. It was brilliant to watch and I have every respect for those taking part.

I was asked many times during the day if I'd ever fancy giving a triathlon a go. My answer was that I'd leave this kind of madness to the experts. I'll stick with my running thank you.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Run Geordie Run joins Tyne Bridge Harriers

One of my biggest regrets in life was not joining a running club when I used to run 5 and a half minute miles in my early twenties. I'm sure that I could have become a half decent club runner had I had the right advice and guidance back then. 

Imagine my delight, when the opportunity to join one of the region's newest clubs came along last week. On Saturday, I joined Tyne Bridge Harriers and met some of the members down on the Quayside, fittingly, with the Tyne Bridge in full view behind us. 

I was made to feel very welcome straight away and it was a real pleasure to talk to such an enthusiastic group of people. 

I'm very much looking forward to trying to get back to where I was as a runner when I was in my early twenties. Whether or not that is possible remains to be seen. In the process, I hope to do the club proud. It will be an absolute honour for an everyday runner like me to pull on the club vest and represent Tyne Bridge Harriers.

I can promise hard work, endeavour and a keen willingness to listen and learn from those around me. I haven't ran at my current weight for well over a decade. In many respects, I feel like I'm starting from scratch. I get a strong feeling, though, that my running will improve as a result of being part of Tyne Bridge Harriers. 

The Run Geordie Run Ball 2011

So much time and effort went into making the Run Geordie Run Ball a success on September 3rd at the Gosforth Park Marriott. Mrs Run Geordie Run hadn’t slept for weeks due to planning and organising the sell out night and I’m pleased to say that the hard work paid off.

The evening got underway at 7 with a champagne reception. My beautiful Dolly Dealers (aka Maddidolls pictured below with a lucky guest) made their way round the guests selling the numbered apples and sweety bracelets. These items, of course, would see the lucky winner bag an Apple iPad 2 and a Pandora Bracelet laden with charms. 

The draw was made later in the evening and Kaye Bartlett won the iPad 2 and Ada Bell won the Pandora Bracelet. Thanks to DH Fuels for providing the iPad2 and Pandora Bracelet.

Real Radio's Gary and Lisa got things underway just before 8 with a game of heads and tails. This was a great ice breaker and the winner went home with a nice bottle of bubbly. 

Dinner soon followed and I was honoured to have Stephen Miller and his family, George Caulkin from The Times, Liz Luff from The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, my Aunty Joyce and her family accompany Katy, Jack and myself on our table. 

The table raffle was drawn soon after dinner and we had 11 top prizes to be won. It was originally 8 but such was the generosity of so many people we had a few extra ones thrown in for good measure. Gary and Lisa worked the audience with some funny banter and the lovely laid back atmosphere of the night continued. Although I agree with that statement wholeheartedly, they aren't my words. I've had a lot of lovely feedback since the ball from so many people who were there on the night.

The evening's excitement was cranked up a notch when Jason Isaacs took to the stage with his big band and glamourous backing singers. It was at this time that the casino tables opened. The prize for winning the most chips was a flat screen TV. Thanks to Chapman Vents for supplying the TV. What with having a top act on stage and people trying to win as many chips on the tables there was a real sense of Vegas in the air.

Jason Isaacs, the band and the backing singers. I'd spoken to Jason during the afternoon's sound check and it was obvious to me that he was well up for this gig. He had been following my run across the USA and he gave everything on the night to entertain the audience. For me, he is the perfect showman. He captivates and charms all who hears his voice. He's got the coolest moves going too. 

It wasn't long before the dance floor filled up and Jack (Run Geordie Run Jr) wasted no time in cutting in for a dance with Sports Therapist Kirsty from my USA support team.

After his set, Jason Isaacs did an unexpected bonus number with guest, Daryl Sparey who made a generous contribution to the 2 charities for the honour. The impromptu duet of "That's Life"  went down really well with the crowd and both Daryl and Jason received a standing ovation from the audience. Thanks to Jason for being such a good sport and thanks to Daryl of course for his donation.

Once everyone had recovered from the excitement of the show, it was time for me to talk about the run across the USA and get all of the thank you's in that I had the time for. I took to the stage and the standing ovation that followed will stay with me forever. As I said at the time, I'd thought about the moment that I was stood delivering the speech many times while running in the USA. The moment seemed like a dream.  Like many other moments since I finished the run across the USA, I've been convinced that this is all a figment of my imagination. I've been convinced that I'm going to wake up back on highway 36 in Kansas at any moment. After some of the low points on the run the moment I stood in front of the crowd was right at the other end of the scale.

I was really pleased with my speech. I took very little notice of what I'd written down and just spoke from the heart. A 3 minute video played at the end. This really helped get the message across as to how tough the run was and what it meant to me personally to finish within 100 days. As the video ended I returned to the stage with a clenched first raised to yet another standing ovation. Without doubt it was one of the proudest moments of my life. All of the pain. All of the tears. All of the sweat. All of the blood. It was all worth it for that one moment. Thank you to everyone for their kind support.

I've received a lot of feedback about the speech since I delivered it. It is clear that people want to hear a lot more about the run across the USA. Sadly there wasn't enough time on the night but I'll be putting this right on November 10th with a talk in with the chance to ask questions too. There are so many incidents of the run that I can't talk about on this blog. Rest assured I'll be answering any question that is asked of me that night. Watch this space for more details on the talk in very soon. Just remember to keep November 10th free if you can.

After I finished talking, Peregrine Solly from The Children's Foundation talked about the work that they do and he heaped a lot of praise on myself and Katy and Jack too. Katy, almost single handedly organised the ball and Jack was a star on the night, helping out here and there as needed. It was really appreciated that he took time out to recognise the hard work that had gone into making the night such a success.

The final event of the evening was the auction. Framed garments from Stephen Miller, David Beckham and myself raised £1600 between us. The training and sparring session with boxer Tony Jeffries made £600 as did the 1 week stay in the Villa in Spain. During the auction we announced that Steven Moore had won the flat screen TV by winning the most chips on the casino tables. 

Gary was the auctioneer for the evening and he did a very good job indeed. He squeezed every last pound out of the very generous audience. 

The festivities continued right up until 1 am with some cracking tunes delighting the busy dance floor. A notable performance from George Caulkin (pictured below with Helen and Dianne) caught quite a few people's attention. We weren't sure where he'd been taught some of "those" moves. I think the general consensus was that they were the kind of moves that you just can't teach people. Sadly, the images I have of "Disco Pants Caulkin" are not suitable for this family website.

As the clock ticked past 1, the party moved into the hotel bar. Paul and Adam (pictured below) stayed in the function room and made sure that all the wine bottles on their table were completely empty. In their own words they were "doing their good deed for the day".

All in all, it was a fitting celebration of the 3100 mile run across the USA. It was everything, and more, that I hoped and imagined it would be. Thanks to everyone who bought a ticket and helped make the sell out event such a wonderful evening. 

The charity ball made a whopping £10,000 profit. It would have been even more had there been time to fit all of the auction items in. Since the ball, the extra items have raised an extra £950 so far and there are still a couple more to go. We also didn't have the staff to run the smaller raffle that we had planned. That raffle will take place at the talk in in November. As a gesture of goodwill, we will be putting all of the guests names into the hat for that particular raffle. There are some brilliant prizes to be won. 

Speaking of staff, thanks to the merry band of volunteers and helpers that made the night a success. Namely Kerry McCormack and Sandra Allen from The Children's Foundation and my wife Katy and son Jack. Thanks also to Lisa and the rest of the staff at The Marriott for being so helpful.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Cherry Active - The secret weapon

"How on earth did you do it?" is a commonly asked question when people talk to me about the 3100 mile run across the USA. One of the main reasons that I was able to run day in and day out for 100 days was the use of a recovery product called Cherry Active.

Cherry Active was recommended to me by Dr Glyn Howatson at the University of Northumbria. Glyn is the Laboratory Director and Associate Director for Research in the Centre of Sport Exercise and Wellbeing at the university. Readers will remember that, apart from this recommendation, Glyn arranged for me to train in the University's state of the art environmental chamber. I was able to train at a simulated 11,000 ft and at high temperatures. Not only was I was well looked after by the PhD students, Jamie Tallent and Chris Toms, but I also learned a lot from them during the training sessions. Looking back, the time I spent in the chamber, made such a huge difference to my preparations for the USA.

Cherry Active made a monumental difference to the actual run across the USA. It's a fantastic recovery product and using it on a daily basis in the USA meant that the aches and pains in my legs were kept to an absolute minimum. Cherry Active contains a high concentrate of Montmorency cherries. This particular type of cherry is packed with high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids, including Anthocyanin and Melotonin. Incidentally, it also counts towards the 5-a-day target. When I compared Cherry Active with other similar cherry drinks I found that it had a far higher concentrate of cherries than any of the other products. This is confirmed in the literature that I got with the product that claimed the product had "8260 ORAC units – approximately the same antioxidants as you’d find in 23 portions of fruit and veg".

I used the Cherry Active concentrate in the USA, mixing 30 mls of Cherry Active with 500 mls of water. You can also buy capsules. I've never tried them however. It is recommended that you take the drink within 30 minutes of finishing exercise. The effects the next day are unlike anything I've experienced before. In simple terms, if you have a hard session and you know you're going to suffer with muscle soreness the following day then you probably won't suffer anything with Cherry Active. It is that good a product. This is how it works for me and I've heard the same from the other people that I've recommended it to.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Cherry Active for supplying me with their product during the run across the USA. I will continue to use it going forwards and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone to use. If you do use it, then I'd appreciate your feedback at

My first use of the product was back in March. You can read all about that here.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Olympic Torch Nominations

Thank you to everyone who has taken time to nominate me to carry the Olympic Torch. I've received hundreds of nominations and I'm slowly but surely working my way through them.

It's a time consuming process. Each nomination takes just over a minute for me to review and accept. Multiply that by the number of nominations and you'll appreciate that it's taking quite a while to get them done.  I'm doing my best, though, to get through as many as I can before the deadline.

The reasons for nomination, given by so many people, are very touching indeed. The fact that so many folk have nominated me means so much to me personally. Probably more than carrying the torch itself.