A SUPER-FIT fundraiser nicknamed Run Geordie Run will embark on the latest stage of his round-the-world trip next week when he will pull his 18 stone support unit across 2,900 miles.

Mark Allison, from Bedlington, Northumberland, will set off on the fifth stage of his Run Around The World Challenge on Monday (June 4), towing the specially designed support unit named Chappie from Belgrade, Serbia through Romania, Ukraine and Russia to Astana, in Kazakhstan.

Mark, 46, started his world challenge – a circumnavigation of the planet covering 20,000 miles in 657 days – 11 years ago to raise funds for charities, including St Benedict’s Hospice in Ryhope, Sunderland.

Joining Mark on the trip will be Chappie, the carbon fibre buggy which will provide his shelter, storage and accommodation. Mark will drag it behind him as he pounds the roads on his 100-day challenge covering 31 miles per day and losing up to half a stone a week.

He said: “The bed is actually really comfortable – as comfortable as mine at home, so I’m not worried about sleeping in it. This time I’m also building in a couple of rest days as that’s really important.

“This will be without doubt the most difficult stage so far, running solo and pulling an 18 stone buggy. I always say I’m a fundraiser first and a runner second. The support and generosity of people will keep me going. I never take that for granted.”

Mark first started fundraising in 1994 following the death of his mother, Margery Allison, from cancer. The team at St Benedict’s Hospice cared for her and Mark said he was inspired by the treatment she received.

“They gave her as dignified and pain-free an end to her life as possible. I feel a debt of gratitude to the hospice for looking after my mam,” he said.

Mark has previously run the Great North Run and both the London and New York Marathons in aid of the hospice. Over the years, Mark has raised £107,000 for the hospice and £301,000 overall for various local charities. This year, he has set himself the target of raising £30,000 for the hospice.

The round-the-world challenge, which is divided into eight stages, will benefit a range of good causes – with stage five earmarked for the hospice. Mark embarked on it in 2007 and hopes to finish in 2024. He has already completed 9,000 miles, with 11,000 still to run and has been given money for his causes in the remotest of places.

“I’ve had some leaflets printed out in Russian so people can understand why I’m doing what I’m doing,” he said. “It’s quite strange. You can be in the middle of the Rocky Mountains or in the outback of Australia and people just stop and hand over money. I’m always so grateful.”

Mark is once again being supported by his headline sponsors, digital office services company, SOS Group, who have helped enable his transport, training and other necessary equipment.

Andrew Skelton, director at SOS Group, says: “We know how much running for St Benedict’s Hospice means to Mark and we’re very proud to sponsor his efforts.

“There’s no doubt about it, this will be an extremely tough challenge. Previously Mark has had a support team with him, so to run solo is a step into the unknown and a step up in terms of difficulty.

“We hope he can complete his challenge safely and successfully and that he raises a lot of money for this fantastic cause.”

Mark added that other sponsors have also been keen to get on board, including the British Army which has supplied him with ration packs and special 21 day underpants.

“I’m told that you don’t need to change them for 21 days so I’ll only need five pairs,” he laughed.

Catrina Flynn, head of fundraising operations at the hospice, said: “We’re all in awe of what Mark has already achieved and we know that when he puts his mind to something he excels. We’ll be following his progress online and cheering him on every step of the way.”