Mark Allison, the Newcastle-based charity runner, is counting down the days until the start of his gruelling 3,100 mile journey across the USA from California to New York City. Starting on Wednesday, May 4, Mark plans to run 31 miles a day for 100 days in a bid to raise £50,000 for St Benedict's Hospice and the Children's Foundation.
He will jog through the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York and the route includes stops in Las Vegas, Denver and Indianapolis.
Long-term fund-raiser Mark - he took part in the Great North Run in 1994 and collected £200 - has even managed to cross the North-East sporting divide attracting a donation from ex-Sunderland favourite Marco Gabbiadini. However his dream running buddy remains Toon hero Alan Shearer.
Mark warmed up for his big Stateside challenge in 2007 with a 874 miles run from John O'Groats to Lands End in 37 days raising over £34,000 for St Benedict's Hospice. This is a good cause close to Mark's heart as the hospice cared for his mother during the final stages of a terminal illness. Mark is also keen to emphasise that all funds pledged will be passed to the charities with all overheads associated with the run being met by himself.