Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Amounts raised to date

With a new fundraising campaign underway, I've been setting up the spreadsheet behind the scenes that I use to reconcile all monies received by the 2 charities. Money tends comes in to the charities from various sources. The majority is via Virgin Money Giving but amounts are also sent directly to the 2 charities. It's very important to keep an eye on it all so that nothing is missed.

While setting up my reconciliation spreadsheet, I took time to have a look at the amounts raised so far and split them down by each charity that I've raised funds for. As at 6pm on the 29th October, these are as follows:
  • St. Benedict's Hospice - £99,421.91
  • North of England Children's Cancer Research - £250.00
  • The Children's Foundation - £88,029.95
  • The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation - £27,525.54 
  • Total - £215,227.40
Split by geographic area, the amounts raised so far look like this:
  • UK - £51,634.00 
  • USA - £105,717.80 
  • Australia - £55,126.60 
  • Europe - £2,749.00 so far 
  • Total - £215,227.40
Fundraising for the European segment of the run around the world started last week. I'm pleased to report that the charity fund has got off to a flying start thanks to people buying t-shirts and hoodies and various donations including £500 from SOS Group to get the fund rolling.

My own personal fundraising target for the European segment of the run around the world is £50,000.  If successful, that means that the overall total (currently at £215,227.40) will burst through the 1/4 of a million barrier and sit at £262,478.40. It's going to take a lot of hard work and generosity to achieve that figure for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation. 

The next segment of the run around the world, from Lisbon to Istanbul, is going to be incredibly difficult. There's no doubt in my mind that the bar has been raised after the run across Australia as it was after the run across the USA. 

That European segment will require an average of 37 miles of running per day for 100 days. That's quite simply unprecedented for me. As are the logistics of the next run. 

I'm convinced that the general public will once again follow the journey with great interest and will hopefully back me and the 2 charities again. That generosity is something that I never have and never will take for granted. It's this generosity that makes a huge difference to terminally ill people and underprivileged children in the region. 

Thank you once again if you have sponsored me over the years or bought a t-shirt. There aren't enough words to express how much I, and the 2 charities, are so very grateful for your support.

Monday, 27 October 2014

When you tell your son that you're going to "run around the world"

My son, Jack, has been present on the support team from the early days during John O'Groats to Lands End and also more recently during the run across the USA. He's pictured below together with support man Steve Harrison and myself running in Missouri. 

I was always very curious to find out exactly what Jack's reaction would be when he learned of his Dad's plans to run 20,000 miles around the world. It's not every day that you get to break that kind of news to your son!

I wasn't surprised that his initial thoughts were for my safety. Wild animals, hydration problems and running thousands of miles away from civilisation in some countries that had seem troubles in the past were his main concerns. 

Once I sat him down and explained, just like I had previously to the 2 charities, about the route and all that I was doing to make it as safe as possible, his worries eased and soon turned to excitement. He was even more elated when I said that, by the time I got to Japan and New Zealand, that he would be old enough to drive the support vehicle!   

Running around the world is as much a sacrifice for Jack as it is for me. I'll be spending 1 year and 8 months in total running around the world. Apart from the few weeks spent with Jack on the support team, that is a long time away from him.

One of the positive byproducts of what I hope I'm doing, through, is that it sets a good example to Jack. I'm trying to teach him 2 things. Firstly, that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Yes, it takes a considerable amount of effort, sacrifice, good fortune, support and generosity.  But with all of those things, anything is possible. Secondly, that it's important to do deeds in life that are for the good of others. I know that Jack is beginning to understand those important messages. 

I'm so proud and pleased that he is determined to be present on the support team during the segments in Japan and New Zealand. It is very fitting that my son, who was present with me at the start line in John O'Groats will be there at the finish line in Slope Point, New Zealand. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Run Geordie Run Around The World Merchandise

Run Geordie Run Around The World technical t-shirts (£12) and hoodies (£22) are now available to pre order for delivery week commencing 17th November. 

T-shirt sizes are: Chest (to fit) XS - 35", S - 38", M - 40", L - 43", XL - 45", XXL - 48"

Hoody sizes are: S - 36", M - 40", L - 44", XL - 48", XXL - 52"

Stock is limited and is expected to sell out very soon based on previous sales. Please get your order early to avoid disappointment.

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

The snazzy designs were produced by Dave Shenton of Shenton Creative who gave his services free of charge.

Click on the image below to see it in greater detail.

Coverage on the BBC/ITV

The story is finally out there after months of secrecy! I've heard some brilliant coverage on local radio and seen news items on the BBC and ITV Tyne Tees lunchtime bulletins so far. Please tune in to ITV News Tyne Tees tonight at 1800 and then on BBC One (North East and Cumbria) Look North at 1830 where I will be live in the studio.

Run Geordie Run Around The World - Transcript of the full announcement

Lady Elsie, Captain Nelson, patrons, ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues and sponsors, thank you all for your attendance today. 

My name, for those of you who don’t know, is Mark Allison and I am an volunteer fundraiser for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation. 

I’m thrilled to be able to share the details with you of a most momentous fundraising adventure to be undertaken by myself, using the Run Geordie Run brand, in 2016. 

For over 500 years Trinity House has served the local community and beyond with many good charitable deeds. I can’t think of a more appropriate setting, steeped in so much history and tradition, in which to share my plans with you today. 

I’d just like to take a moment to remind everybody how I came to be standing here today. How is it that an ordinary Geordie in the street is standing in such a grand old place addressing a Lady, a Captain and so many esteemed guests?

Had things have worked out differently for my family then I may not have been standing in front of you at all today.

When my parents were taken from me when I was just a young man I could have done 1 of 2 things. I could have let the grief consume me and tear me apart (I must admit that it nearly did) or I could do something positive and put to good use the debt of gratitude I feel to local charities for at least trying to help my parents and for making their final days battling cancer as comfortable and dignified as possible.

Fortunately, I chose the latter option and it has helped to ease the burden of grief that I have carried with me every day since I lost my parents. It is a most terrible dark feeling that is as painful in my heart right now as it was all of those years ago. 

Thankfully, through fundraising, I have found a way to control and even some days numb the pain. There is no doubt in my mind that raising funds for such good causes as The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation has been as beneficial to me as it has to them and the beneficiaries of their charitable good deeds.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do realise that my story is no different to many other peoples’ in this room today or in the street outside. We have all lost loved ones. It’s what we do, in their memory, for the greater good of others that is so very important.

It was not long after I returned from finishing the run across Australia in January this year that I had a very vivid dream. I could see myself running from John O’Groats to Lands End as I did in 2007. I could then see myself running from California to New York as I did in 2011. The dream then turned into a nightmare as I was reminded of the traumatic and painful times during the run across Australia.  

I’m not sure if it was the same dream or a subsequent one later that night but I could see a map of the planet with lines drawn across it in thick black pen. Those lines just so happened to be the places that I’d ran; top to bottom of the UK, across the USA and across Australia. What a shame, I thought, that there were parts of the map with no lines on at all. 

It was at that moment in my deep sleep that I knew where my next run would be. With so many blank spaces on the map there was so many possibilities. I noticed that Europe had no line across it. Asia had no line across it. Japan had no line across it. New Zealand had no line across it. So many places to choose where to run next. Where could I choose? Where could I choose? 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my immense pleasure to tell you exactly where in the world I have chosen to run next. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I intend to run to fill in all of those blank lines on the map until a complete circumnavigation on land is made of the world

Ladies and gentlemen, you heard that correctly, this is a run around the world

Upon completion, if I were to ever have that dream again, I would see a line across the USA, down the UK, across Europe, across Asia, across Japan, across Australia and across New Zealand. 

The run around the world will be done in 8 segments as family, financial and employment circumstances allow. The beauty of this plan is that I’ve already ran 3 of those segments. Little did I know that when I was running from John O’Groats to Lands End, across the USA and then Australia that it would actually become part of a run around the world. 

I expect the 8th and final segment to be completed by 2024. 

Whilst not pursuing a world record, the event is following 2 aspects of the Guinness World Record criteria used in cycling for “fastest circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle”. The purpose of this is to give credibility to the claim that I will “run around the world”. The criteria is as follows. I must run a minimum of 18,000 miles and I must run through two approximate antipodal points (i.e. opposite points on the planet).

The route around the planet that I have chosen is actually 20,000 miles and will take approx. 608 days to complete.

The segment in 2016, will see me run across Europe starting in Lisbon, Portugal. The route will then take me through Spain (where I will run through La Coruna which is the opposite point on the planet to Christchurch, New Zealand). I will then run through Andorra, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece before reaching the finish line in Istanbul, Turkey some 3580 miles and 100 days later. The distance to be ran in 2016 is unprecedented. The challenges won’t just stop there however as I’m sure the support team and I will be faced with many cultural and languages differences.

The European segment during the Summer of 2016 will be without doubt my greatest challenge to date, certainly putting the run across the USA and Australia in the shade. There will be another fundraising target of £50,000 for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation and with a lot of luck and generosity the 1/4 million pound barrier should be broken. 

In 2018 I will start in Istanbul where I left off in 2016 and make my way through Turkey, Georgia, Russia and all the way across Kazakhstan to the Chinese border. That is a distance of 3700 miles to be ran in 110 days. At this moment in time I have no idea how I’m going to execute the logistical side of that run. It’s mind boggling as is the distance and the even greater shift in cultural change that I will see. 

In 2020 I will start at the Kazak/Chinese border where I left off and run 3000 miles across China to meet the Pacific Ocean in Shanghai in 84 days. 

In 2022 I will run from the southern to the northern most points of Japan. That’s a distance of 1800 miles to be done in 50 days. 

Finally, in 2024 I will run from the northern most point of New Zealand, passing through the opposite point on the planet to La Coruna, Spain which is Christchurch before completing the 20,000 mile distance in a total of approximately 608 days. That’s roughly 1 year and 8 months. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is an ambitious plan. 20,000 miles is an incredibly long way. But I stand here today having already ran 6358 miles. The remaining 13,642 miles promises to be an amazing and I intend to take people with me on the journey with me through my website and numerous social media channels. I’m sure the media will back me as they have done so brilliantly in recent years too. 

The run around the world is the reader's, the listener's, the viewer's and the sponsor's journey as much as it is mine.

I’d like to finish proceedings by thanking Captain Nelson and the staff of Trinity House for letting us use their fantastic premises.

Thank you also to my sponsors, Cherry Active, Chapman Ventilation, SOS Group, Virgin Money and Sport Newcastle, without whom, there would be no run in 2016 to tell you about. Their support and generosity is as critical to the success of the 2016 segment.

Lady Elsie, Captain Nelson, patrons, ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues and sponsors, thank you all for listening and sharing in this particular part of the journey.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

SOS Group supporting the 2016 run

I reported some great news last month about the charity fund for the run across Australia closing at £55,126.60. This gave an overall total to date of £212,478.40. That total represents kindness beyond belief and it's very difficult to express just how grateful I am to the thousands of kind folk who have made a donation in respect of my running events over the years.

There was further great news this week as the 2016 charity fund got off to a great start with a £500 donation to The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation from those kind folk down at Smart Office Systems (SOS) Group Ltd* in Team Valley, Gateshead. Pictured below is SOS Group Director Andrew Skelton handing over the cheque. 

The great news didn't stop there as SOS Group said that the main reason for getting me to come down to their premises was to talk about how they could best support me during my 2016 run. I brought them up to speed with my fundraising background, the whys and wherefores and by the time I'd left we had a high level plan to help make the 2016 run a fundraising success.

Unlike funds received from my other sponsors for tour costs**, any funds from SOS Group will be wholly used for charitable purposes. In the first instance, SOS Group will be paying for the production of the new Run Geordie Run 2016 technical t-shirt and hoodie available to pre order from Wednesday 22nd October. This means that all of the proceeds from the sales can go straight to the 2 charities. Absolutely all of it. 100%. For example, if a t-shirt costs £5 to produce, then SOS Group will pay that £5. When the t-shirt then sells for £12 then ALL of that £12 goes to the 2 charities. Therefore, the 2 charities will see a nice return on SOS Group's donation.

I get the feeling that that is just going to be the tip of the iceberg and just from the brief discussions we've had so far I feel that, given SOS Group's obvious company ethic regarding charity and community support, that the 2 charities are going to benefit immensely from this partnership.

It is for that reason that SOS Group will fit nicely into the 2016 sponsorship "family" and I see the same values in the other kind companies who have signed up to support me. They are all so keen to help and to see me do well in 2016. 

Andrew Skelton of SOS Group said "I first met Mark a few months ago at the Tyne Metropolitan College Year awards. We were both presenting awards and Mark had shared his recent running experiences with the audience. I sat opened mouth and staggered by the distances Mark had ran and the money he had raised in support of the two great charities. The strength to do the various runs and emotional factors Mark had gone through was very inspiring. 

At that point I made an immediate pledge of support. In recent weeks we’ve had a chance to talk in more depth about the 2016 great venture and we have so much in common especially handling the grief of loved ones and assisting local charities whenever possible. 

I (SOS Group) did not have to think twice when the opportunity arose to assist Mark on the 2016 venture and become major key sponsor. 

We have some great ideas for the long term and achieving the ambitious fundraising targets Mark has set. I have even set myself a target to run the full distance on one of the days during the 2016 run. And at 18 stone that isn't going to be easy!".

I'm very grateful to all of my sponsors and it's great to add SOS Group Ltd to the list of growing sponsors and supporters of the run in 2016. 

*From the SOS Website - SOS Group are an independent supplier of photocopiers and multifunctional devices, with the ability to provide customers with a multitude of superior copy/print devices, we do have preferred suppliers that we recommend, call us anglethese photocopiers and multifunctional products are of the highest grade and offer the end user reliability and functionality.

**All of my running events, up to and including the run across the USA in 2011, were paid for out of my own pocket. I couldn't afford to fund another event, so the USA was always going to be my last charitable run. However, £105,233 was raised as a result of that run and I felt that I owed it to the 2 charities to try and have another go at raising £50,000 (my original USA target) in Australia in 2013. The run across Australia would simply not have been possible without the backing of commercial sponsorship which was used for flights, RV motorhome hire, fuel, insurance, nutrition products and kit. Through some incredible generosity, that run saw another £56,126.60 raised for charity.