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Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Friday, 17 December 2010
'Santa Claus' goes on the run for charity
Mark Allison
Mark has preciously run all the way from John O'Groats to Landsend

BBC Newcastle heard reports that a man had been spotted running along the A696 wearing a Santa suit.

The first conclusion one might come to is that this man must be mad to not only run in snow and ice along a main road, but to do so in a Santa suit!

But in reality this could not be further from the truth. The man in question is well-known local fundraiser Mark Allison from Shotley Bridge.

He is currently in training for his next challenge - to run across the US.

Three thousand miles

Mark, a huge Newcastle United fan, explained exactly what he'll be doing: "This is me running from coast to coast solo, with a small support team.

"It's 3,100 miles in 100 days.

"Start the first of May, finish August the 8th, back in time for the new season hopefully."

Mark Allison

You might still be wondering what running along the A696 has to do with it.

Mark is currently completing a mini-challenge, although to many of us it might seem like a huge one.

He is currently running from Newcastle to Edinburgh, having completed the same journey in the opposite direction in November.

Fat or fit?

So surely he must be feeling fit?

"I think fat more than fit at the moment," he said modestly.

I'm hoping to raise at least £50,000...all I need to now is run across the states next year and bring home a bit more sponsorship.
Mark Allison

But if he's not feeling quite up to scratch just now, he still has five months to prepare for his American challenge.

Bigger target

But Mark is no stranger to such tests, having previously ran 874 miles from John O'Groats to Landsend in 2007.

He raised a staggering £34,000 for St. Benedict's Hospice in Sunderland back then, but he's given himself an even bigger target for his American adventure.

He said: "I'm hoping to raise at least £50,000, so it's going well so far, the training's going well, the fundraising's going well, all I need to now is run across the states next year and bring home a bit more sponsorship."

The money will be split between The Children's Foundation in Newcastle and St. Benedict's Hospice in Sunderland.

If you would like to sponsor Mark, you can do so by visiting his website.

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