Friday, 4 November 2016

The final 11,000 miles.

The Around The World Ball in October was a huge success for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation. During that event, I announced my intention to run the remaining 11,000 miles around the world without a support team. Regular followers will remember that the next segment is from Belgrade to Astana in 2018. Runs across China, Japan and finally New Zealand will follow in the years after that. 

My plan, while running unsupported, is to run while pulling a special “buggy” containing all of the supplies that I’ll need. It will also be my accommodation and provide the (solar) power needed for comms, GPS tracking and social media. 

The main reason for the change of direction in terms of support is to greatly increase the amount raised for the two charities.

When I announced this plan at the Ball, the room fell deadly silent. The feeling of shock was evident and it was obvious that nobody expected to hear that I’d be running the remaining miles solo. 

I also announced that I was setting a 4th November deadline to get the project off the ground. So that meant there were only four weeks to gain enough commercial backing to make it worthwhile, calculate a safe route, identify and document risks and how I intended to cover them and seek the approval to press ahead from my wife Donna and then the two charities (as I do with each segment of the around the world run).

Four weeks have now passed and I haven’t managed to complete all of those tasks. It was an impossible timescale to stick to really. But that, dear reader, is where the “bad” news ends! It’s safe to say that it’s been an incredible four weeks.

I’m delighted to say that in only four weeks I’ve exceeded all expectations in terms of getting the right level of commercial backing to make the run from Belgrade to Astana worthwhile. Suffice to say that not only have all costs of this tour have been met but there is a significant sum of money for the two charities.

Most importantly, we have the costs for the buggy covered. Unlike the RV hire costs of the past segments in the USA, Australia and Europe, this is a one off cost and will allow an even bigger profit margin to be realised for the two charities. It’s a very important piece of equipment for many reasons and I’ll talk more about that over the coming months. In the meantime, I’ve already started liaising with, Nottingham based company, SJH projects on the design of the buggy. That’s a really exciting aspect of this whole trip I can tell you.

A huge thank you must go to Chapman Ventilation, Virgin Money, DLine Cable Management, Fresh Freight Group, Cherry Active, Northumberland Tea and headline sponsor SOS Group for their incredibly generous backing. 

Next up was the task of trying to calculate as best as possible how much I thought would be raised for the 2 charities by the time I got to the end of the world run. In other words, is continuing the run worthwhile doing? Based on previous amounts raised and fundraising schemes in the pipeline, a worst case scenario would see almost £600,000 raised by the time the run ends in New Zealand. That doesn’t take into account public donations via Virgin Money Giving. A best case scenario will see that figure reach 3/4 million pounds. 

Thanks to some amazing generosity, I’ve always exceeded my own personal expectations and targets for fundraising. With that in mind and the realistic “worst case” figure I’ve calculated there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that running another 11,000 miles for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation is, very much, a worthwhile exercise. It’s not going to be easy and is going to require a lot of luck and generosity but I sincerely believe that if I stick to my plan then the run around the world will be a huge fundraising success. 

The next challenge was to calculate the safest route from Belgrade to Astana. Bearing in mind that this kind of task in the past has taken months to complete, I believe I have accomplished this at a reasonably high level. I’m satisfied with the research done so far (advice from our own Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as others including the CIA State Dept) but there is still much to be done. As we have done in the past, we will be making direct contact with the relevant embassies. This approach has always served us very well. You’ll be able to read just how well when I write the book. That's for another time. 

So it’s my belief that the route through Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan is as safe as it can be and needs to be for a solo traveller. I’ll be going as far as I can over the next few months to back that up.

The risks of travelling alone are numerous. Whatever those risks, a UK based support/monitoring team (so far that is Donna and Jimmy) must be able to know the following at all times: 

1) My location. 
2) My wellbeing.
3) The recovery and possible repatriation procedure and how to execute it if required. 

I’ve been able to come up with a robust plan to cover the first two points. I’m currently working on the 3rd point. I’m speaking to insurance companies, technology providers, experts, world record holders, adventurers who’ve seen it and done it amongst many others. This is going to take a few more months to complete.

I’m very confident of having a robust plan in place early in 2017. Believe you me, I’m leaving no stone unturned.

Once that is complete, Donna and I will have “the conversation” and give a “go” or “no go”. Given all of the research undertaken and advice received only then, using our own judgement and experience, will make the correct decision for all concerned. Based on the work that has been done so far and the current state of the world I believe that will be a “go” decision. I’ve got very little doubt about that. But I’m prepared for that to go either way.

All that will remain in early 2017 will be to present our findings and plan of action to the trustees of both charities. Both the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation have a duty of care to ensure that any fundraiser is not putting themselves at significant risk whilst raising funds. Despite an impeccable track record of safety over 9,000 miles in the UK and across the USA, Australia and Europe it is very important that I gain their approval to continue the run around the world. 

So that’s the state of play after four weeks. There is so much positive and exciting stuff going on in the background. I’ll talk more about that very soon and I’ll keep everyone updated via the blog on a more regular basis from now on. 

Everyone should rest assured that I’m as determined as ever to do my best for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation in memory of my parents and my brother. 

I feel that it’s so very fitting that I write this news on the anniversary of my Dad’s death. It may be 28 years since he lost his battle against cancer but I feel that he, as well as my Mam and my brother are right here with me. Every step taken towards the end of the world would have made them incredibly proud. I miss them all every day but that thought gives me great strength and comfort.

Finally, to everyone reading this, thank you for being part of the journey with me. Your support and generosity is amazing and I’m very grateful for it. 

Monday, 8 August 2016

Mixed emotions on August 8th 2016

For the last 5 years, August 8th has always been a date that I reflect on. It was, of course, the final and 100th day of the 3100 mile run across the USA in 2011. 

The picture below was taken on the final mile near the finish line in Coney Island. The New York branch of the Toon Army were with me for the final 13 of 60 miles on day 100. It was a most incredible journey with £105,000 raised for The Children's Foundation and St. Benedict's Hospice.

Fast forward 5 years and had the world been a more peaceful place then August the 8th 2016 may have seen a similar photo to the one above. Today should have been day 100 of the run across Europe where I would have finished under the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul (pictured below during the recent coup attempt). 

As it turned out, day 83 was the final day of the run across Europe and Belgrade became the finish line and not Istanbul. We had no choice but to end the run there and it has plagued me ever since. Every time I think about it, however, frustration and disappointment soon arrive at relief and a realisation that we did a very good job in Europe. 

2633 miles in 83 days in Europe outperformed both the run across the USA by 230 miles and Australia by 250 miles. That is progress and given the increased difficulty of the European run in terms of elevation then I can't help but feel a great deal of satisfaction and pride. I guarantee tomorrow that I'll be back to thinking about could I/should I have attempted to get to Istanbul and the whole though process starts again.  

The final 2 miles in Belgrade were very profound and though provoking for me personally. I'm sure there is a better word to use than profound but that's all I can think of at present. The image of the refugees on a protest march through Belgrade will live with me for a long time. Their anger was aimed at the Hungarian government for deciding to close the border with Serbia. 

There was a real feeling of despair and helplessness as I ran past the protesting crowd. I later found that they were on hunger strike. It was a sweltering hot day and I think they were trying to get to Germany. Good luck to them.

Minutes later, I approached the finish line at The Victor monument in Old Belgrade. There were a lot more people there than I expected. To my surprise, the finish line consisted of 30-40 children. "What a perfect end to a very tough 83 days." I thought.

For some reason, up until Croatia and Serbia I hadn't seen a great deal of children on my route. There were many children playing in the streets in those 2 countries in a way that children used to in the 70s and 80s back in the UK. It was a really nice sight. There wasn't an iPad to be seen.

I later found out that the children on the finish line were looked after by a local charity and either currently or previously worked on the streets of Belgrade. They presented me with a card and certificate. I'll treasure them both.

A lot of the children didn't speak English but I did have a laugh with them as they seemed to know a lot of words similar to "great" such as "super" and "fantastic". I tried my best to teach them "spiffing" and "fan dabby dozy" but it wasn't to be.

A boy called Daniel (pictured below) spoke very good English and was interested to hear about the run across Europe. He was very polite and I'll never forget his and the many other curious happy smiles that greeted me that day.

So after 83 very tough days that regularly threatened to break me mentally and physically, I planted the virtual Around The World Flag down at The Victor Monument in Belgrade.

While I reflect on events from 5 years ago in the USA I'm also thinking about the journey through Europe that was cut short and should have ended today in Istanbul. Some things just aren't meant to be. You just don't run 20,000 miles around the world and expect things to go to plan.

The journey will resume in 2018. The aim is to get to Astana in Kazakhstan on segment 5 of the run around the world. That will also probably involve running through Romania, Ukraine and Russia. If things have been tricky up to now then the bar is about to be raised somewhat higher.

Preparation for the next run will start next year. Commercial sponsors will be sought. Training will commence. Routes will be planned. For now though, thank you to everyone who supported the run across Europe. The fund is still growing for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation and it looks like we will smash the £50,000 target that I set.

If you would like to sponsor the run across Europe in aid of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation then please visit

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The Around The World Ball 2016

I'm pleased to announce that tickets are now on sale for the Run Geordie Run "Around The World" Ball. The fundraiser, in aid of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation, will take place at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle on Saturday October 8th 2016 with a drinks reception from 6pm.

The ball will be hosted by BBC Radio Newcastle's Sony Gold Award winning duo Gary Phillipson and Lisa Shaw. They were both on top form at the ball last year and I'm looking forward to more hilarity this time around. 

With a packed itinerary, musical entertainment will be provided by the very talented Abi Garrido who supported Olly Murs' last visit to the region.

This year we have come up with a new twist on many of the usual games, raffles and auctions. There will be something for everyone and every size pocket. It promises to be a packed evening and a fitting celebration of the 9000 miles journeyed around the world so far.

Previous attendees will know that the quality of the food at The Biscuit Factory is second to none. Once again we have worked with them to design and create a mouth watering 3 course "Around The World" themed menu.

I look forward to welcoming you to what will hopefully be our 3rd sell out fundraising ball. 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Some questions answered

There have been a few questions posed via Twitter and Facebook recently. Thanks to those people who posed a question. Here are my answers.

Glyni Lynn: What things from home did you miss? I'm a big film buff and I really missed the IMAX cinema at Metrocentre. There were some blockbusters shown there during the run. I missed simple things like having a meal at a table and having a shower. Most of all I missed my freedom. The run was like hard labour and I would return to my cell in the RV every night.

Ben Scott: What was your fuel of choice while running and while recovering? If you had to pick one song to represent this leg of the run what would it be? I think the fuel that worked best for me was a simple banana. Easy to digest and they seem to offer energy very quickly. In terms of recovery, yet again, Cherry Active, was used again as it was during runs across the USA and Australia. I drank Beet Active every morning and this may have been one of the reasons why I was able to run further than any of the previous segments around the world.

I'll be putting together a short video of photos to the key piece of music soon. I honestly don't know what tune represents the run right now but I'm going to have a good think about it. I listened to a lot of music.

@Golfing_grannie: Surprised you thought this worse than Australia. You seemed in a bad state towards the end in Aus. Away from civilisation more too. Do you think it's because this one is so recent and the bad memories have faded? I think this one was worse as I was away from Donna for longer. I was very homesick some days. I tried my best to keep this issues away from social media and the support team as best as I could. Only Donna really knows how hard I hit rock bottom some days.

Emily Gettins: What surprised you most about the run? Which was your favourite climb in the mountains? The extra mileage that I did, day in day out, just to get to the designated end point was an unwelcome surprise. Second to that and on a more positive note was just how friendly the people were all over the route (except for those I encountered in Italy unfortunately). Croatia and Serbia were amongst some of the friendliest places that I have ever ran. 

With almost 40 climbs done it's hard to pick a favourite. For pure scenery, it has to be the Col d'Aubisque in the Pyrenees. For difficulty, it would be Alpe d'huez.

Andrew Coles: If you logged them, what was the fastest/slowest mile you ran during the challenge? I'll have to check Garmin Connect in due course but I remember a 36 minute mile coming out of the Pyrenees on a very steep and rocky off-road section. The fastest was just over 10 minutes at 10:11 I think. It felt like I was sprinting. Slow and steady definitely won this race.

Peter Wilson: What happened at the border!! I can't say as we are still in the country and its a matter of national security. I'll talk about it at the Around the World Ball in October though.

Simon Ben Oxley: Do you listen to anything when you run, how do you entertain yourself while running for hours? I listened to a lot of different music on my iPod. I would listen to 1 movie or stageshow soundtrack per day. I listened to the West Side Story soundtrack many times as strange as that may sound. Other forms of entertainment were to speak to Donna on the phone during the final few miles of every day. Listening to Stobbsy speak French phrases in various languages while we ran filled in a lot of time. 

The difficult times were when I was running alone and ran out of things to think about. I'll speak more about this in a future blog post.

Gordon Stuart: What is the best view you saw on the run? The views from the Col d'Aubisque in the Pyrenees were spectacular. The view right back up to the Col du Glandon from the Col de la Madeleine many miles away really gave me a sense of how far and how hard I'd ran that day. "I've just run that" I said many times.

Seeing the street children cheering and clapping at the finish line in Belgrade has to be the best view of this and any run.

Catherine Cape: How are your feet? They are nowhere near as bad as at the end of the run across the USA or Australia. There seems to be a lot of internal blisters but very little surface damage. I don't think it will take Alison at the Cradlewell Clinic too long to fix them. In fact, she is the main reason why they are in such good condition.

Andrew Skelton: Best venue of the trip and which day was the best shower in the world? I think the best venue is tied between Croatia and Serbia. The kindness shown to Donna, Richard and I was something very special indeed. 

The best shower turned out to be a bath in the British Ambassador's residence in Belgrade. After 11 days of not showering I left a very large tide mark in it.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

We did it!

News and reaction to follow. Lisbon to Belgrade, 2633 miles in 83 days for The Children's Foundation and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Job done. Half way around the world.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Progress so far on day 53

The faint blue line on the "heat map" below was generated using data from my GPS watch uploaded to Strava.

As you can see, I haven't exactly taken the direct route across Europe with a mostly northerly direction taken from Lisbon. Once I hit the first antipodal point near La Coruna it was a case of turning due east across the top of Spain. 

The next challenge was the Pyrenees where the likes of the Col de Marie-Blanque, Col d'Abisque, Col du Soulor, Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin, Col de Peyresourde and Port D'Evalira (The highest one) were some of the many climbs that were undertaken. 40,000 ft of uphill running was done in the Pyrenees over 303 miles.

I soon made my way to the Alps for a further 345 miles involving 46,000 ft of uphill running over 10 days. It all started on Mont Ventoux and I was only to get stronger and quicker running up d'Alpe d'Huez, Col de Parquetout, Col d'Ornon, Col du Glandon, Lacets de Montvernier, Col du Chaussy, Col de la Madeleine and the Col de l'Iseran.

It was so cold up the Col de l'Iseran that the RV wouldn't start. Once we waited for sunshine, having slept up there at -3 celsius it was a case of running 9,600 ft downhill into Italy. 

I felt really strong coming out of the Alps so I decided to delay the rest day for a day and run to the other east side of Turin. That's where I'm writing this blog from on the rest day having:
  • Ran 1,765 miles
  • Burned 271,000 calories
  • Climbed 149,000 ft
  • Lost 4 stone
Remarkably, I'm still on schedule. Nobody, I know thought that would be the case after 5 days never mind 53 days. 

There is still a lot of difficult running to do, however. There are many challenges to face and overcome. The biggest challenge I've faced so far is homesickness. I've used that to my advantage through. I live with the daily fear of falling behind and not getting home on time. It's the main reason that I'm still on schedule.

Now for some well deserved thank yous to everybody who has made this run possible and worthwhile.

Firstly, my main sponsor SOS Group together with Chapman Ventilation, Fresh Freight Group, Cherry Active, D-Line, Virgin Money, Brooks and Sport Newcastle have been very generous with their support. In fact, they have been so generous that they have not only paid for the run but the surplus thousands have gone to The Children's Foundation and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. 

Finally, thank you to everyone who has made a donation to The Children's Foundation and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation via I get to see the donations made and read the messages left on an almost daily basis. 

As ever, I'm truly humbled by the generosity of the general public, family, friends and colleagues alike. I've set a fundraising target of £50,000 for the run across Europe. Just like the running, there is still a long way to go to achieve the goal.

That's all for now. Expect more blog posts now and again and daily updates on the Facebook page as data becomes more limited.

Since I'm in Italy, I'll close with a paraphrased proverb from these parts. "Tutte le strade portion a Istanbul".

Monday, 30 May 2016

Show your support - Run Geordie Run T-shirts

While Mark has been making his merry way across Europe, I've been managing things behind the scenes as well as having a 'normal' life outside of the world of Run Geordie Run.

In doing so (and turning headquarters upside down) I've unearthed a handful of the European segment technical t-shirts.

Thanks to Chapman Ventilation for paying for production costs, all proceeds go to The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation. That's every single penny!

If you want to get your hands on one of these fabulously designed t-shirts (thanks to Dave Shenton of Shenton Creative for the design) then please send an email to for further details.

Please be advised that, as of today 30/05/16, there are only 8x medium and 2x small t-shirts so it's a case of first come first served.

The cost of the t-shirt is £12.00 plus £3.00 UK postage and packaging or £5.00 for overseas postage.

There are also some of the "eat, sleep, run, repeat" cotton t-shirts still available - these are priced at £15.00 per t-shirt. The same postage and packaging costs apply.

Sizes available for the cotton t-shirts are: small, medium and large. These are again limited in numbers but please send any queries to

Remember that every single penny goes direct to the two charities!

Thanks, Donna.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Europe - Day 27



 Good Luck from Mark Beaumont.


 Change of plans.


 End of day.


 Late night storm.

Europe - Day 26


Last 10k.

Daily Blog. 


My joke. 


End of day.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Europe - Day 13

 A significant day...


 Amazing scenery.


 Hello Queen's Park School, New Zealand.


 End of day.

Good luck messages

Here are some of the fantastic messages of support that Mark has received since the start of the run across Europe.


 Fab Flournoy - manager/player of the Newcastle Eagles basketball team.


Harry Gettins (who was born as Mark started on his 20,000 mile run around the world - the John O'Groats to Land's End segment).


 Sir Bobby Robson's sons.


 Melanie and John - Australian support team 2013

Friday, 13 May 2016

Europe - Day 12



 Pushing hard.


 Last 4 miles.


End of day.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Europe - Day 11

 Good start to the day.


 End of day.

Europe - Day 10

Europe - Day 9

(Day 8 was a rest day)

End of day.


 Phil's first day.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Europe - Day 7

When "rain stopped play".

End of the day.

Europe - Day 6

Europe - Day 5

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Europe - Day 4

Europe - Day 3

Europe - Day 2

Jimmy’s thoughts for day 2 

This morning was an earlier start, with a 5am alarm. This meant that we could get Mark to the starting point for day 2 as early as possible. 

We modified the plan for today so that Mark didn’t have to carry his waist pack as he complained that this was slowing him down yesterday. Instead, we agreed to meet every 5km or so to do a quick water exchange before sending him back out on his way. 

At lunch we discussed how much happier Mark was with the route today. Although it has still been very undulating and particularly hard on Mark’s feet I get the impression that today’s route has been a lot kinder to him. This was also reflected in Mark’s mood as he was particularly chirpy at lunch (not just because we parked up at a train station). 

We were fortunate enough to pass a McDonalds in Caldas Da Rainha which allowed us to charge Mark’s electrical items and utilise some wifi. During this brief visit we were able to identify a more efficient route for Mark to continue on for the rest of the day. This didn’t reduce the distance and the road surface was kinder allowing Mark to pick up a good pace. 

Due to the wonders of the BBC iPlayer we were able to tune in and listen to Mark’s interview with Mark Forrest. We were relieved to hear him in such good spirits as it had been some time since we last met with him. We also heard Mark say that he was feeling “a million dollars” so took full advantage and hatched a cunning plan to make him run an additional 2 miles for the day. 

We needed to get these additional miles as there have been slight discrepancies between Google maps and the actual route that Mark has taken. Although we knew that this would be tough for Mark, it was really important that we keep any mileage ‘false deficits’ to an absolute minimum to get him to Istanbul as scheduled. 

As it was getting late, and quite dark, I ran back from the RV meeting point with some high vis vests to safely escort Mark for the last stretch. We had managed to sneakily park outside of a campsite (that had closed for the evening) and set up home for the night. Mark was exhausted by this point so managed a quick shower and some cereal before bed. 

On reflection, this was a good day. We met Mark as and when he needed us, we serviced the RV and ended the day on 39.1 miles. Result.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The run across Europe blog - new comms

Due to the tricky nature of the run and subsequent duration of Mark's days, he has been unable to spend as much time as he had hoped keeping everyone fully updated with his blog posts.  The mobile phone signal is also very intermittent which means that updates have often been delayed.

On this basis, we have agreed with Mark that we will take a video diary for the end of the day and upload this separately   This way Mark can keep you all in the loop and reflect on the days running personally.

We will embed the videos right here as soon as we get the opportunity to do so.


Jimmy and Donna.

Europe - Day 1

The team and I made our way to the ocean’s edge on Guincho Beach shortly before 7am.  It was already warm, around 17 celsius.  After a couple of photos I got the run across Europe underway.  I dipped my hand in the ocean and off I went over the beach.  It was good to see my Virgin Money colleague, Vik Datta, at the start line.  I really appreciated him turning up to see me off.

Once off the beach I had to tackle a few stairs to the main road.  The next 5 miles were a sheer steep uphill climb to 1230ft.  I was exhaused when I reached the summit of the Sintra-Cascais National Park. Not only was it steep, but the streets in the picturesque village of Malveira Da Serra were also cobbled.  The cobbled streets soon turned to dusty road which in turn turned to cracked dirt path.  As I had suspected, this was the toughest start to any of the segments of the run around the world so far.

The downhill stretch out of the national park proved to be very technical.  It also required a lot of time spent using Google maps for navigation.  That said, I soon made it out of the park and into another picturesque village.  I met the support team briefly at Colres for some fresh water.  It was exhausting in the hot sun with such an undulating route.  

I met the team again at the 17.5 mile point, this time for lunch.  They cooked a nice omlette, it will be interesting to see who makes the best omlettes on this tour.  There is always fierce competition for that title.    I also took this opportunity to put on a fresh pair of socks as recommended by Alison Meldrum at the Cradlewell Clinic.  I was out again into what has turned out to be a very hot day in Portugal.

Back out on the road and disaster nearly struck.  I had to step off the hard shoulder and into the grass verge to avoid being hit by a driver using their mobile phone.  They were totally oblivious to my prescence.  Further down the road I was surprised to see a snake, it took weeks to see my first snake in Australia.  The rest of the afternoon involved climbs, climbs and more climbs.

All of a sudden, I was running on empty at the 26 mile point.  I stopped for an energy bar and when I looked up, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It was Jimmy with an ice lolly! I felt like I had won the lottery.  I ate it so quickly that I got an immediate headache, but it was worth it.  

The remainder of the day involved runnining against the backdrop of amazing scenery.  Spectacular beaches, lots of windmills of vatious sizes and many more climbs.  Once climb in particular was so steep that I had to really force my way uphill.  I sat down at the top of the hill surrounded by dogs in nearby properties barking loudly at me.  

Navigation using Google maps was crucial to getting through this very tricky route.  I do not know how I could have managed without this.  All of the hard work that Jimmy and I had put into researching the route certainly paid off on day 1.  Donna joined me for the last 6 miles, this proved to be a tricky section with more climbs through farmland and dirt tracks.  I reached the 37 mile point with zero energy left, I was exhasuted and delerious.  I did not have the energy for a shower and as soon as I had my pasta for supper, listened to the team read out the donations and messages on Virgin Money Giving I was asleep. 

All in all it was a pleasing day, over 4000ft of uphill running meant that it was very tough day.  If we have 99 more days like this then I will get to Istanbul on the 8th August.

Donna’s thoughts for day 1

As with Mark, Google maps was our saviour for the day.  The initial route is planned for a runner therefore we had to ensure that our route was RV friendly.  At times, we were forced to re-route as the roads simply would not have been kind to our home!  

That said, we were able to effectively track Mark and get to the meeting points in good time for pit stops and lunch.  We worked hard yesterday to make sure that Mark was sufficiently hydrated as there were a lot of climbs which were really tough on him.  We knew that this was going to be one of the tougher days so we also had to be mindful of his wellbeing (this also involved in making sure that when we rewarded ourselves for a busy morning with an ice cream that we went in search of Mark to share with him too!). 

As the tour fund is meticulously planned to account for every penny, we have to ensure that we are conscientious every day.  The RV is adequately stocked to accommodate Mark’s needs and means that no unecessary expenses are incurred.  This extends to camping sites.  As we neared the end of the day, Jimmy and I did a quick recce of the last stretch.  This was fairly tricky and left us miles away from an aire (these are essentially car parks for caravans with water and waste facilities). Unfortunately the nearest aire was some distance away from Mark’s end of day and would require a 30 minute journey there and back.  On this basis, we made the call to stay over in a car park close to the end of day 1 and at the foot of a park.  This looked safe enough and quiet enough for us to park up for the evening.

Thankfully as we were able to plan ahead for the last 6 miles, Jimmy was able to go solo in the RV which meant I could spend some time running with Mark.  I didn’t get this opportunity in Australia and often felt guilty for leaving him out on his own.  With the support team that we have for the run across Europe, this should hopefully mean that Mark will always have plenty of company.    

It’s really important that Jimmy and I plan ahead as much as we can, for breaks, water exchanges and most importantly the evening meal. Last nights planning allowed a quick turnaround from Mark finishing his 37 miles to getting some shut eye.  Overall, a great start to the run. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Europe - Day 1

Day 1 has been a massive success. 37 miles were required and 37 miles were ran. With elevation gain of over 4000 ft for the day it's safe to say that this has been one of the toughest days of running that I've ever done.

Donna and Jimmy have worked very well on the team all day. They have set a very high standard.

I'll be retiring today's shirt from the tour. It will be washed framed and put to auction at the Ball in October.

Thank you to all the kind folk who have donated at

I'll write a full account of day 1 over the next few days. For now, I must sleep and recover. I'm exhausted. 

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The exact route across Europe

The document below can be used to see the exact route that I'll be running from Lisbon, Portugal to Istanbul, Turkey.

The Weigh in

I'll be starting the run across Europe at 17 stone and 10.5 pounds. That's 112.72 kg. It's no consolation that this is the lighest that I've started any of the 4 segments of the run around the world done so far. The heaviest was a whopping 18 stone and 5 pound (117.5 kg) before the start of the run across the USA. 

I'm guessing that I'll finish in Istanbul weighing in at around 12 stone (76.2 kg) and 10% body fat. I'll be burning over 6000 calories a day for the next 100 days. Extreme weight loss is inevitable. 

Watch this space on rest day 1 next week for details of the next weigh in.

12 hours to go.....

The run across Europe starts at 0700 BST on Guincho Beach on Sunday 1st May 2016. 

The 3,400 mile (5,472 km) journey from Lisbon to Istanbul can be followed via:

Any donations to The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and 
The Children's Foundation would be gratefully received using:

Any questions or queries can be emailed to

Enjoy the Journey.

Team News

First up on support team duties are Jimmy and Donna. They are on the team for the first 7 days of the run and are covering the route through Portugal up to the border with Spain near Valença.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The curse of Sir Bobby Robson

I got chatting to Claudia who works at the campsite where we're staying in Guincho Beach. It turns out that she knows all about Sir Bobby Robson.


The final countdown to Europe

It has been a very busy few hours, days, weeks and months in the build up to the run across Europe. In fact, you could easily add “years” to that sentence. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. No way. 

We picked the RV motorhome up 2 weeks ago. Thank you to my sponsor FFG for storing it securely at their Washington premises until departure time. 

I welcomed 2 very special guests aboard the RV for a closer look last week: Lady Elsie Robson and World Cup winning legend Jack Charlton. Both have been very supportive of the run across Europe recently and it was fantastic, if a little surreal, to show them where the support team and I will be living in Europe for over 100 days. 

As an added bonus, Jack brought a load of Northumberland Tea for us to use in Europe. I’m very much looking forward to a cup at the end of a hard day of running. I know the support team appreciated this gesture too. You can read more about the visit on the Chronicle website

I took time out at the weekend to watch Newcastle United play for the final time this season. The game against Liverpool ended in a draw but was a great match to watch. It’s a pity (or not according to some people) that I’ll miss the final 3 games this season. I really don’t like missing Newcastle matches. This season, I will have managed to get to all bar 3 at home and have been to Swansea, Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea, Leciester, Norwich as well as Liverpool. That’s not bad going by my standards. 

I’ll be back in time for the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season but not the Championship season. Newcastle United - You know what you need to do. 

Sunday was spent working on the RV. Every nook and cranny in the RV is being used to good effect. It is full of porridge, Cherry Active, medical supplies, running kit and everything else that will be needed in Europe. 

I'll be speaking more about my use of Cherry Active for recovery and Beet Active to delay the onset of fatigue in the coming weeks. Regular readers will remember that Cherry Active helped me to run across the USA and Australia. This is the 5th year that I've been using the product. More on that soon.

There were some media duties to perform on Monday morning before we departed for Europe later that day. 

I called in to BBC Newcastle for an appearance on Alfie Joey and Charlie Charlton’s breakfast show. They were both very supportive during the run across Australia and it's great to have that again. 

I started talking on the show with only a few minutes to spare before the 0830 news. I was extremely grateful to them both for holding back the news for over 5 minutes. I’m looking forward to talking to them again at various points in Europe. 

It was then time for the official send off from the Life Brigade Watch House in Tynemouth. There were several photographers in attendance and I gave interviews to Emily Reader from Metro Radio and Andy Sixsmith from Made in Tyne and Wear. Special thanks go to Barry Peels whose photos subsequently appeared in many papers and websites.

I’m looking forward to talking to Andy Sixsmith again during various points of the run across Europe. The item below was recorded a few weeks ago in the RV.

There was just enough time to show the directors of my main sponsor, SOS group, around the RV. The picture below shows Andrew, George, John and myself having a laugh together.

It’s thanks to SOS Group that the run across Europe is a reality. Their financial support has helped towards the cost of RV hire, running kit, fuel and insurance.

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation also benefit from SOS Group’s sponsorship. A “charitable fund” is part of the deal. This amount could easily go directly to the 2 charities. We haven’t done that. Instead, we use the money from SOS group to “grow” a bigger total for the 2 charities through initiatives such as t-shirt sales, raffle prizes for the ball and Team Run Geordie Run kit for Great North Runners.

A £5 t-shirt (like the Europe one below) can yield £12 - £15 for the charities (Any postage paid goes to the 2 charities too thanks to FFG posting the items). So an overseas t-shirt costing £5 to produce can see as much as £20 raised for the 2 charities.

A £300 raffle prize saw £2000 raised at the Around The World Ball last year. £150 spent on Team Run Geordie Run running vests attracted enough runners to raise £2300 for The Children's Foundation. £1000 spent on some entry fees and Team Run Geordie Run t-shirts means that we are on target to raise over £6000 this year. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s very good use of the charitable fund.

On top of that, SOS have made some huge donations on the back of collections and raffles at staff parties and the like. SOS Group have kitted the 13 members of the support team out with branded hoodies and t-shirts. Pictured below with me at the send off event are Donna, Giles, Jason, Jimmy, Malcolm and Nickela.

Along with the other sponsors, which I’ll talk about over the coming blog posts, I’m extremely fortunate to have SOS in my corner. I know that the 2 charities share that feeling too.

Libby from The Children's Foundation and Sir Bobby’s son Andrew (pictured below) had some final words of encouragement before we departed.

If there is one thing that I want to do in Europe, it’s to make the 2 charities proud. I told Libby, Andrew and Times journalist and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation patron George Caulkin, as much on Monday.

Jimmy and I drove away from Tynemouth just before lunchtime with the various well wishers waving us off.

We made it as far as the Midlands that afternoon before arriving at Portsmouth Ferry Terminal on Tuesday afternoon. With the RV safe in the belly of the Britanny Ferry’s flagship Pont Aven we watched the coastline of England disappear. 

The article below appeared on The website, having publicised my runs since 2001, have been responsible for attracting 10’s of thousands of pounds of charity donations. have a massive reach and their continued support is hugely appreciated.

I was secretly pleased that they picked up on the subtle reference to Auf Wiedersehen Pet. Neville is pictured below also en-route to Europe.  Coincidentally, I have the DVDs with me to watch in the RV on rest days.

We made it to Santander with only a rough hour of sea travel to report out of the 24 it took us to arrive. The rough patch happened just after midnight and I was convinced that we had capsized at one point!

The overnight stop on Wednesday was Palencia in what was essentially a car park for RVs. It was right in the middle of the town but really quiet. 

We travelled down to Lisbon on Thursday. Jimmy continued to do all the driving which meant I was able to get through a lot of work including finalising the social media plan, answering many emails and finishing the weather and progress graphics that will be seen right across all my social media channels.

We stopped briefly south of Valladolid for a bite to eat. This is where I discovered that Jimmy is a master of many different foreign languages. Unfortunately, he used them all in the same sentence much to the amusement of the cantina. We all burst out laughing at his attempt to order a ham toastie. 

It wasn't all bad news as the snack that came out was a massive ham and cheese baguette. Much better than the small toastie that I thought I was getting. I later found out that it was called a Bocadillo. 

The arrival into Lisbon on Thursday afternoon was very dramatic. We crossed the 25 de Abril Bridge into the city passing the Christ The King statue. I'd passed the Angel of the North some 4 days earlier. How fitting that we were greeted by a similar monument here.

We arrived at the Camp Site on Thursday in glorious sunshine with temperatures at a very pleasant 20 Celsius. Well done Jimmy for getting us this far safely and for some top banter on the way down.

As I type this blog, Donna is on her way to join the support team. She has just sent the following picture of the Pyrenees. I'll be running up there in 3 weeks time.

There are just 2 days to go before the start of the 3400 mile (5440 km), 100 day run across Europe from Lisbon to Istanbul. 

I'll talk more about the start line at Guincho Beach on the blog tomorrow. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who has made a donation. The overall charity fund is almost at a quarter of a million pounds. Your generosity is hugely appreciated. If you would like to make a donation then please click the image below to be taken to my Virgin Money Giving page.