Thursday 31 October 2013

Day 16

Day 15 was a quiet day in the world of social media for Mark without mobile phone signal. This morning was quite a different story: "HELLO WORLD! I've had a terrible morning on day 16. Feel very unwell and fatigued. Stopped after 11.4 mile to rest in #Balladonia."

Balladonia is a very small resort situated along the Eyre Highway but thankfully not too remote to have contact with the outside world.  Mark spent the first few minutes of the day updating us with pictures and recordings from previous days...

Day 13 - mile 10

Day 14 - Oversize load #eyrehighway

Day 14 - Temp peaking at 34c

Day 16

It's like a sauna in the RV.

Day 16 - Progress so far. 553 miles ran in 16 days.

Thankfully as well as having mobile phone signal, there was also somewhere for Mark and Jason to eat which offered more than just porridge! This could be the last decent meal for the next 900 or so miles.

Before calling it a night Mark spoke with Simon Pryde on Total Sport, BBC Newcastle.  During this interview Mark shared more of the experiences that he has faced so far.  The story of the spider eyes staring back from the darkness - hopefully certain members of the support team weren't listening and having second thoughts! Thankfully just one set of eyes, any more could be a worry!

Day 17 is just starting.  Since moving further across the country Mark has entered a new time zone meaning that they lost 45 minutes on the first day.  This should be an advantage today with what will hopefully be a cooler start to the morning allowing Mark to get more miles in before the temperatures start to sore.

Looking ahead, these high temperatures are set to stay.  Not only does this mean that Mark will be battling the heat during the day running, but this also has an impact on sleeping in the RV - 

"It's way too hot to sleep and I keep feeling bugs crawling on me. I can hear but can't find the Mosquito that has been squealing around."

"Got the mosquito but there is another. I've got 2 choices. Go to sleep and get eaten by it and it's little maggoty orange friends or fight."

"Ok Australia just eat and crawl over me already."

In terms of the progress with Mark's feet, Jason has been doing a fantastic job.  The run would certainly be in grave danger of ending if he wasn't on the team.  He arrived at just the right time. 

Ever conscious of the mileage deficit Mark has made the decision that next week's rest day (2) and rest day 3 will be used to mop up the lost mileage (currently 60 miles).  

Mark is really pushing his body to the extreme, both physically and mentally.  All in good faith that the outcome will be victorious with him 1) reaching Bondi Beach on time, but ultimately 2) raising £50,000 for his two charities, The Children's Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  If you're taking the time to read this blog and have not yet donated, please do so.  Even if its just the cost of skipping a posh coffee at breaktime during the day.  Every single penny counts and goes towards the 2 amazing charities.  If you haven't already heard what these charities do, then please take the time to visit their web pages.  Truly remarkable work and the recipients are immensely grateful for all of the fundraising that Mark and many others do to support them.  

Here are two quotes which really do help to put things into perspective:

"It's our monthly visit to SBR unit today, always a bit tense.  Will think of you running to help fund it. #hero" (from the family of a patient undergoing trials through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation)

"I just love what you do, it makes us really happy.  It's the first time I've smiled since we got here" (from a parent in relation to the Clown Doctors)

Please click here to make a donation.  Mark sends his heartfelt thanks to each and everyone one of who takes the time to do this.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Day 15

Although out of reach from normal mobile phone reception, Mark has a satellite phone for emergencies and the odd radio interview!

Day 15 started with a call live on 720 ABC Perth.  This is the early morning breakfast show aired in Australia and hosted by Jonathan Morrell.  Jonathan was a great support to Mark in Perth and continues to spread good word of the run.

Mark sounded in good spirits and described the current conditions on the Eyre Highway as well as the daily perils that he is faced with.  Mark continued along the Eyre Highway clocking up another 27 miles before his second radio interview for the day.  This time it was with Gary and Lisa from the Real Radio breakfast show. 

Mark had this to say before speaking to them: "27 miles done 34 Celsius   Battled all day so far".  

Click here to be directed to the interview. 

Approximately 4 hours after speaking to Gary and Lisa (and Jack), Mark finished day 15 on 41.25 miles: "41.25 miles done.  Quick last 7". I'm sure you'll agree that this is a great result.  41 miles target achieved as well as an extra 0.25 - this takes the grand total of miles run to 542.67.  This leaves Mark just 31.33 miles behind the overall schedule.  As ever Mark tries to be as detailed as possible with his descriptions, here's an update on the feet situation: "60 minutes of foot treatment.  Two toenails gone.  Lots of pain."

Day 15.

Day 15 approximate location.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Day 14

04:38 - Day 14 start:

04:42 - "The run across Australia is panning out exactly as I thought it would. I've just got to get through the painful times and dig in best I can."

As Mark describes in this audio, his feet have been bandaged by Jason to ensure maximum protection and prevention of further infection.  

Since the run started 14 days ago, Mark has been working his way through the 'Now' catalogues - "Up to Now 20 today. Let's see what delights it has for me. #rgrdownunder #ipod"

Here are some more of the views along the Eyre Highway on day 14.

10:54 - "12 miles done. I've had a 15 minute #tacticalsnooze already. Very sleepy.  Lack of energy today is typical of when I had nothing to eat the night before. Zzzzz"

Unfortunately this is where the mobile phone signal ended.  This was not unexpected by any means, just disappointing for Mark being unable to share more of the journey.  I received an update from Mark later in the day to confirm that mileage completed: "33.75 Miles Done. Lost the will and the mental battle." Hopefully you've been able to build a picture of the climate and surroundings over the last 14 days, imagine the toll that this is taking on Mark both physically and mentally.  There has been limited variation in scenery but the little that he can take from it is very worthwhile: "Good banter and camaraderie with the #roadtrain drivers this morning. #eyrehighway". 

I managed to have a brief, but very broken, conversation with Mark once he had finished running for the day.  The signal was incredibly poor but at least there is some feasibility to establish contact.  Mark wasn't too interested in my questions of concern only whether or not the donations had been coming through and his worry that he is now 31 miles behind schedule. For the record, he's fine.  Very tired and drained, the fierce heat and flies are a daily struggle but he's doing the very best that he can to get through this.  The temperates are forecast to remain in the mid 30's but hopefully with a bit more cloud cover and the small potential of rain.  The plan is for Mark to try and start a little earlier in the mornings which will hopefully allow him to make some good progress whilst it's a little cooler (although overnight temperatures are still around 14 degrees Celsius).  Mark has 9 more days of running until the next scheduled rest day.

So, for the next few days (possibly longer) there will be very little to update you with on here and the other channels of social media.  I'll update any communications that I receive and will publish the route so at least you can get a feel for the progress that is being made each day.

In the meantime, please continue to send Mark your messages of support. Although he can't read them right now they will all be ready and waiting for the moment the signal returns.  These messages really do mean a great deal to Mark.  When he's alone on the road for up to 15 hours a day these messages really do help to lift his spirits.  Please do what you can to spread the word, encourage the donations and help Mark to reach his goal of raising £50,000 for his two charities.

If you haven't already donated, please click here.

Mark is scheduled to be on the Gary and Lisa Real Radio Breakfast Show tomorrow morning, so make sure you tune in.

Monday 28 October 2013

Day 13

A nice early start to day 13, for me! While Mark was taking in the lovely scenery of Lake Cowan, pics to follow below, I was on a call at 05:30 with Connexion2 who were checking that Mark was ok.  The emergency alarm had been triggered!  Fortunately, again, this was a false alarm and I was able to establish immediate contact with Mark to confirm this.  Absolutely no issues and a very thorough service from the team.  

The plan for day 13: "Time to drive to the start point. With a lot of luck and effort today I'll run through Norseman and get a good few miles on the Eyre Highway."

Conscious of the fact that mobile phone reception is very likely to reduce in service over the next few weeks, Mark has shared as much of his surroundings as possible before this option is no longer available.  If I am able to establish contact with Mark during this time then I will try and relay as much of the journey as I can.

In the meantime,

06:14 - "A cold start"

06:15 - "The view to my right."

06:15 - "The view to my left."

"Bit of Jive Bunny on Now 15 while I run past a dead Emu. I don't think I've had a more random start to a week?"

08:14 - "Shire of Dundas"

12:37 - "Day 13. It's taken 2 hours to get to this bend. 18 miles done."

13:03 - Lake Cowan

16:23 - "10k to Norseman and my left hand turn onto the 1000 mile long road."

17:28 - "It's taken 460 miles to get to #norseman in 13 days. #rgrdownunder"

17:30 - "Looking back"

17:42 - "Home for the next 932 miles. #eyrehighway #norseman"

A few more wildlife warning signs along today's route too:

20:01 - "39.5 done. That's it for day 13. Time to get back to #norseman for a last shower for a while in the RV park. Feet are on fire."

22:07 - "90 minutes to get through all off the treatment and massage by @JasonStobbs. My feet are in a lot of pain. I could almost cry."

Day 13's mileage takes the grand total to 467 in 13 days (467.67 if you add all of the extra point-something miles - they all mount up!).  Mark continues to receive treatment to his feet from Jason, an extra visit to the chemist was made today to ensure that they have plenty of supplies for the road ahead.

Although physically absent from the support team, Melanie and John have continued to amuse Mark today with these little snippets:

@hawayDobbyman: "#rgrdownunder  Things just arent the same anymore..."

Day 14 is almost about to start.  This is what Mark will be faced with over the next few weeks:

"Home for the next 932 miles. #eyrehighway"

Sunday 27 October 2013

Day 12

Day 12 started as a very emotional day.  Saying goodbye to Melanie and John was incredibly tough for Mark. He was up to Now 13 on his iPod at the time and 'He Aint Heavy, He's my Brother' came on.  This reduced Mark to tears as he looked back and waved at them as they set off on their journey back home to Perth.  This was Mark's lowest point of the whole run so far.

Mark tweeted: "I wouldn't have made it this far and in such good spirits without Melanie and John."

Melanie and John later tweeted:  "that was a great adventure mark, i'll miss those slow and painful death finishes to the day! Roll on Geordie Boy!" (John)

"Back safe n sound. Missing the sherpa duties. Not sharing a toilet with flies a bonus tho! x" (Melanie)

Here are some of the best bits from days 2 and 3:

The support team through to day 15 will be Jason and Graham.

With Melanie and John on their way home Mark continued on for day 12, a day which should have been a rest day.

"Feet are so sore. Internal pockets of fluid are forming as they did in the last few weeks of the run across the USA."

"Painkillers are starting to work meaning I've got 7 miles of pain free running ahead approx. #rgrdownunder"

Conscious of the mileage deficit Mark was eager to reach 41 miles for the day.  As a support team we had discussions around the best way for Mark to approach day 12.  The harsh realisation was that without adequate rest and treatment to his feet, this could jeopardise future days.  Thankfully Mark made the decision at 9.5 miles to have a long tactical snooze and to receive further treatment from Jason.  

"2.5 hours sleep on my rest day. Off out now to add to the 9.5 miles I ran this morning. The mileage deficit is currently 31.5."

15:55 "The mileage deficit is down from 41 to 25. Think I'll get it down to 20 then go rest up in Norseman.

16:25 Finished on 17 miles on my "rest day". The mileage deficit has been cut from 41 to 24 after 12 tough days in Australia."

So after day 12, a previously planned rest day, the mileage now stands at 428.  Mark has continued to receive the much needed treatment to his feet from Jason.  They have been carefully treated and bandaged up.  As a result, the swelling has started to go down.

Tonight's stay is in a caravan park in Norseman.  Hopefully this will give the team some comfort and security.  It has also allowed Mark to have his first shave in 2 weeks!

"I've lost just over a stone I'm guessing in the first 12 days of the run. Lots of fat gone but muscle wastage too by the looks of it."

"Lights out! Up early in the morning to drive to the start. The RV will stay in Norseman for 2 nights while the Mitsubishi will cover me."

Here's a closing picture in place of #rgrart created by Carlton who will join the support team in a few weeks time: Run Geordie Run in Lego!

Saturday 26 October 2013

Day 11

Just before lights out news reached Mark that a new milestone had been reached for the charity fund.  The generosity of people is overwhelming and the fund now stands at £18,000 for the two charities; the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation.  This a fantastic sum of money, a massive thanks to everyone has donated so far.  Some of the messages are very humbling and Mark is ever grateful.  If you would like to make a donation then please visit Mark's Virgin Money Giving page.

After yesterday's mileage Mark had to revisit the strategy for the run across Australia:

Here are some of the tweets from day 11:

"Just ran past a very scary abandoned (hopefully) settlement. Didn't smell too good. I thought I saw a small monkey in dungarees!"

"Just been stopped by a guy who heard about the run on the radio last week. Quick photo and some good wishes. Nice one."

"33 done. Looking odds on for 41 again."

"My view.  2 miles left."

"41 miles done today. 411 miles in total in 11 days. 41 miles behind schedule. Planned rest day tomorrow. Don't think I'll be using it."

"1st massage of the run coming up by @JasonStobbs. This is much needed after 411 miles."

"Top work from physio @JasonStobbs. I needed that!Top work from physio @JasonStobbs. I needed that!"

"I should also mention that @cherryactive continues to amaze me as a product. The lack of sore/stiff legs the day after is amazing. #spon"

So as day 11 ended Mark received some much needed treatment from Jason.  The outcome remained that Mark is in a world of pain.  His feet have now been strapped up and it is very likely that his right foot has now become infected.  This will be carefully monitored over the next few days.

Day 11 also ended as a very sad day.  Melanie and John leave the support team tomorrow morning and start their return journey back home to Perth (411 miles!).  These two amazing people have given up their own time and driven hundreds of miles to help a complete stranger.  Such an amazing act of kindness. They have undoubtedly played a huge part in the success of the run to date.  Thank you both!