(Friday 27th December)
Day 73 was a 6am start, this would allow Mark to attack some early miles. Unfortunately we up before breakfast was available in the motel but fortunately a local garage had sausage rolls on sale!
The route continued to present some climbs on the way to Yass...
As I waited at the first meeting point of the day for Mark I got chatting to a lovely lady in the local garage. She was incredibly excited that Mark would be passing by and made sure that every customer knew about him! I attempted to buy some supplies for Mark in the form of iced coffee and the lady would not accept my money. I suggested that as a compromise we donate the money to The Children's Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. A very kind gesture and a lovely lady who later got to meet Mark…
Incredibly the donations continued throughout the Christmas period. Very humbling for Mark that people were taking time out to contribute to the run and the charity fund.
"Meeting kind Aussie folk, supportive messages online and very kind donations means I'm running well so far on this hot day."
Mark made a special thank you to Mike Bartle who made a donation in memory of his parents and mother-in-law.
I received my own message during the afternoon, from my youngest goddaughter, Maja, who asked this…
I can safely say that Mark's foot is definitely worse than that of a Hobbit!
Around 8pm Mark finished running on day 73 and tweeted the following:
"30 miles for the day and I'm at the motorway. Much further north due to the hilly detour I've made these last 2 days."
"The most dangerous part of the entire run lies ahead. Motorway. Night running. Bridges with huge drops and very little barrier protection."
"It's dark. It's a motorway. It's a death wish. No more miles today."
"Currently talking to @sbrfoundation about the safety aspect of the run. There are some tough decisions to be made."
Just after 11pm (local time) Mark then made the following announcement:
"It's quite literally the end of the road for me. I gave it my best shot and then some. The run finishes in Yass, 73 days after leaving Perth."
"I've caused enough people enough worry. The Hume Highway has already claimed victims this month. I'm not going to be one of them."
"This run should have been over in the #nullarbor when I was in constant pain. It should have been over last week in extreme temperatures."
"This run far and away eclipses what I achieved in the USA in 2011. I had to raise the bar after that. I've come so close to the finish line."
"I finished running on the final hot day of the run. It's a lot cooler after today until the end of next week."
"I have to consider my safety for the sake of my son Jack back home and my partner Donna here by my side."
"It's just not possible to finish this run safely given the time I have left. If I had another week then it would be possible."
"I've been doing this for 20 years now having raised almost 200,000 pounds."
"I know my Mam and Dad would have been very proud of what I have done for good causes in their memory."
"When I get back to the UK I'll have a good long look at where I go from here. There is life in the old dog yet."
"In events like this you always need a slice of good fortune. I never had any in 73 days."
"It has been an incredible journey of immense difficulty. I have tried to share as much of it as I could via Social Media."
"Thank you to everybody for their kind donations. Your money has been well earned. I have fought and fought hard for it."
"I'm very lucky to have @Donna__Houghton supporting me, not only in Australia, but in my life also. She is my rock."
"@Donna__Houghton managed to get another 4 weeks out of the run through careful treatment of my feet."
"Rather fittingly, the last time I felt like this was when Sir Bobby's England lost on penalties in Italia 90.It's lights out in the car here in Yass."
"We travel to Sydney at first light."
"I've missed my son's birthday and Christmas and taken 3 months unpaid leave to run across Australia. I have no regrets."
So, as if the decision on day 69 wasn't tough enough - this certainly was! Mark and I talked at great length about what this decision would mean before I allowed him to switch off the GPS watch and remove his trainers! I personally was devastated that Mark wouldn't be able to complete the 'coast to coast' run across Australia. Knowing how much effort; blood, sweat and tears have gone into this, to make the decision to finally call it a day was phenomenal. Having spent the last month on the road with Mark I knew how difficult this decision was but could also see the relief when he had committed to it and informed the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and personal trainer David Fairlamb. Both David and Liz were incredibly supportive and backed Mark's decision 100% as did Mark's other charity, The Children's Foundation. I'm sure that having followed the run everyone else was in the same frame of mind. This was the safest option and the run across Australia was no more.
Mark received so many messages of support, here is just one of them from @lachieandi who has provided some good information to Mark along the way...