Sunday, 8 July 2007

Day 2 review - A late winner seals victory on day 2 (metaphorically speaking!).

After another breakfast of Porridge and beans on toast, I set off from Ulbster in light drizzle with no signs of wind. Unfortunately, the start point was quite sheltered and didn't give a true indication of how strong the wind was.

At the 10 mile point I likened the run to the Toon's recent performances at Anfield. I was up really against it with little chance of mustering any attack. In other words I was finding it difficult to get up to a decent pace and found each footstep to be quite an effort. This was all down to a horrific 20ish mph westerly wind. Just as I did during my training in the Pennines, I dug in and got on with it.

The first major climb on the run was at 13.5 miles. I could see it from the 12.5 mile point and my heart sank when I saw how steep it was. It was 4.5 miles long with a gain in elevation of 400 ft. I reckon it must have been a 13% gradient in places. Again, it wasn't that much different to what I'd trained on in the Pennines. It was still tough though! Again, I just simply dug in and it took me an hour to get to the top at 18 miles. I was absolutely shattered at the summit and to make matters worse the sun started to beat down as the temperature rose to 18 degrees or so. At least I had AC/DC on the iPod to keep me going.

I couldn't take real advantage of the 430ft drop over the next mile as my legs were so sore and I could feel a blister or two forming.

Another stop for bananas and crisps at the 19 mile point brought welcome relief for a few minutes.

The next 5 miles were up to an even higher summit than the first climb. Miles 19 to 24 saw a climb of nearly 700 ft. I decided to listen to the playlist that my colleagues had made for me and this played a vital part in me getting to the top in 1 piece. Highlights included Road to Hell (Malcolm's choice), Run to the Hills (Mike P's choice), Stomp (Colin's choice - How did he know I like Steps! Did I just admit to that!), Smooth Criminal (Jonathan J's choice), Dead Ringer for Love (John B's choice), Where's your head at (Carlton's choice), I want to break free (Lesley C's choice). While we are on the subject of music. I managed to run the 26th mile in 10:16 thanks to John B and his choice of Dead Ringer for Love. This is where my headline came from. If this was a football match I'd regard this as snatching a late winner. Say in the 89th minute. A most unlikely victory indeed given that I was under the cosh for most of the match (metaphorically speaking!).

The final mile and a bit were a formality as the wind had died down and it was quite nice to run in the sunshine. Jack and Katy were waiting for me at the 27.16 mile point and we called it a day there in Navidale.

Today was without doubt the most difficult shift I have ever put in on the road. The wind, sun and hills contributed to a very challenging 27.16 miles indeed. The right choice of music and seeing that their had been some more pledges from readers was of great comfort. I do try and check the justgiving website at each banana stop. The mobile signal is a bit patchy in places though. I will get round to replying to all sponsors when I get back to the North East in August. For now though, thanks again for such amazing generosity and support. I can't believe how much has been raised as a result of appearing on The Toon Army have now contributed over £2000 to the fund since Friday. Thanks to one and all.

With 2 days down and 34 to go my confidence is now sky high after coming through the stern test running in tough conditions. This might be my last detailed post for a few days as I'll have no wi-fi access for a while. I'll continue to provide an update via my mobile phone though.

This is (a very sore) Mark Allison signing off from the canny little B&B in Wick. Let the adventure continue and may we see no wind tomorrow.

PS. A couple of sponsors have said that Newcastle United should let me do a lap of honour at the first home game of the new season. If there's anyone from the club reading this then please get in touch ( and give me one more reason to complete this crazy run.