Mark said he is totally motivated
Toon fan plans trans-USA run
Mark Allison has started training for the challenge of a lifetime - to run 3,100 miles across America in 100 days in 2011 to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
Mark Allison said he was first inspired to run by the film Forrest Gump in which the character played by Tom Hanks ran everywhere.
It led to him running 874 miles in 37 days from John O'Groats to Lands End in 2007, which was close to a marathon a day.
But that will be totally eclipsed by his next challenge to run from the west to the east coast of America in 2011.
He aims to complete the 3,100 miles in about 100 days which means running an average of 31 miles a day.
Mark is building up his running
The 37-year-old from Shotley Bridge, County Durham, said he was overwhelmed by the wave of support, particularly from fellow Toon fans, for his 2007 challenge and it had inspired him to step things up.
He said: "I have got no difficulty at all in getting motivated because of last year's experience. It's the experience that's driving me on."
Mark describes himself as "not an athlete, just an ordinary person" and he believes it is this which has helped capture people's imagination.
Despite the run not being until 2011, Mark began his training at the start of November 2008 and will build it up over the next couple of years.
And there is no question he is taking it seriously - out have gone the beer and takeaways to be replaced by healthy eating.
And running is just part of his training regime so far. It also includes spinning, gym sessions, cycling and the tough-sounding Beach Bootcamp on a Saturday morning at Tynemouth.
Mark did a lap of honour at St James' Park in 2007
Mark said: "Every run I don't do or don't go to the gym is going to have a knock-on effect."
By summer 2009 he aims to be running 110 miles a week and he has the support of a team of people who are helping and advising him, including mentors which he describes as "like having a conscience" about his training.
Running in people's memories
The thought of running more than 3,000 miles is incredibly daunting and so Mark says he is not thinking about the whole picture but is breaking it down into little chunks.
His route will be from Huntington Beach, California, to New York and he will pass through 14 states. Among the landmarks will be the Rocky Mountains and the famous Route 66.
He will pay for the entire challenge himself and estimates he needs to raise somewhere between £10,000 and £15,000. He has already started saving and that includes sometimes cycling to work in Newcastle from County Durham to save money on petrol.
He aims to raise £50,000 from the run which he will split between St Benedict's Hospice, in Sunderland, and The Children's Foundation.
By completing the John O'Groats to Lands End run he raised more than £34,000 for St Benedict's Hospice, which cared for his mum Margery and the run was in her memory and that of his dad Terry, who also died from cancer, and his brother David, who died from a brain haemorrhage.
Mark at Lands End in 2007
This time round as well as running for them, Mark will set up the 3,000 scheme through which he will run a mile in someone's memory. The idea is that people will pledge a nominal amount and he will run that mile in the name of the person they choose.
He said: "Initially it was part of the grieving process and repaying a debt of gratitude but now it's turned into something else.
"I think people find their niche in life and I think this is mine."
Mark hopes the run will be a good advert for the north-east of England and is conscious of how supportive people in the region are and so the America challenge is under the banner of Run Geordie Run.
He keeps a regular blog with updates on his training and there is also a group on Facebook which already has nearly 600 members.
Read more on Mark's blog:
last updated: 20/11/2008 at 16:24