Read the latest article by Nick Butter on his journey to raise awareness and donations for Prostate Cancer UK by running a marathon in every country in the world. Enjoy the reading!
A 19 Seater plane. The Shortest flight of my life. Just 6 minutes. But one of the most beautiful. Here’s the last 31 days recap. If you haven’t come across my journey. I am setting the world record for running a marathon in every country in the world. It will take me just 550 days and I hope to raise over £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. Google them. This cancer is killing more people than breast cancer.
Although everyone says the first bit is always the hardest – and they’d be right – it seems to continue that way too. The first 30 days of my journey have been everything I hoped for, but also a rather steep learning curve on many accounts. Over 50°C of temperature difference, broken cameras, a confiscated drone and a small collection of blisters – but I’m loving it.
I’m writing this overlooking a small private beach on the island of Antigua. The sun is just setting and the gentle waves lapping at the shore are the soundtrack to this blog post. A gentle breeze and the quiet chatter of hotel guests waiting for dinner.
So what’s changed for me since I left my country, my friends and my family to set off on this huge mission to run a marathon in every country in the world? Well, I’m not so pasty white, I’ve learnt the safety announcement for Liat, the Caribbean airline, and I’ve become good friends with Wi-Fi. I’ve also learnt that my patience with those who say to me “Have you got any liquids, laptops, iPads, take your cap off, anything in your pockets?” is wearing thin. They aren’t doing anything wrong, it’s their job – they just don’t know that I hear it every other day. And man, it’s become annoying. I now race to do what I know they will ask before they have time to open their mouths. I’m yet to win…
The running has been fantastic, and every day that goes by I look forward to running more and more. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like getting up at 05:00 and I don’t like putting on slightly soggy, sweaty clothes and socks from the previous marathon just a couple of days before, but once I’m out on the road, no matter how busy the traffic, my feet hit the floor, and after a mile or two, they remember they are no longer in bed. Give it a few hours, and they have propelled me through another marathon – 26.2 miles of sun, heat, pinballing from one water bottle to the next. I’ve had 35°C in Haiti, nearly 4,000 feet of climbing in Saint Vincent, and ran 140 laps of the 300 metre round High Commission compound in Jamaica.
I’ve also realised that listening to anything while running is a whole different experience from running at home. I’m not sure I’ll go back to listening to anything while I run again. Let’s give it a few months and we’ll see… Because I’m in a new place every time I run, I have a massive fear of missing out. I don’t want to run past something, or not hear a car, or miss any cheers of encouragement from the locals.
My legs aren’t too bad. I’ve been fairly disciplined with rest, ice and stretching, and simple things like keeping my feet clean from any grit before I put my socks on, always taking my juice plus tablets, and my Healthspan probiotic, cod liver oil and multivitamins. These keep me feeling like I’m on top of my nutrition. I’ve no idea what’s really happening, but my morning chug of water with a few tablets is that of a 50-year-old, and I’m fine with that.
People. People are what I remember. The two friendly, slightly plump ladies of the Caribbean airline check-in desk who were keen for a photo and a chat in a very stereotypically Caribbean way – big smiles and deep giggles. These ladies made a very long day of airport hopping bearable. Carla, my PA, has been fab – arranging for a driver to follow me for 6 hours while I completed a marathon through the busy streets of Haiti, and multiple conversations and hours of logistical chat from thousands of miles away. So Carla, a huge thank you. There’s also been the random brief airport meets, where the inevitable question arises, “So you are coming from the UK – how long are you staying?” which then descends into a full-blown conversation about what I’m doing, why, and how they can help.
I’ve also had literally thousands of lovely messages through various social media channels. These mean so much to me, really picking me up in my low moments. No matter how much I love running, it’s hard sometimes, painful and exhausting. My body, brain and mind have been over-tired at times, I’ve got lost, and I’ve often woken from a deep sleep to remember that I’m not at home.
This month has gone quickly, but I have a feeling that won’t always be the case. My admin tasks such as backing up photos, uploading stuff online, charging my camera, phones, GoPro, drone, laptop, iPad and watches is a daily ritual. While this is pretty easy in ‘normal’ life, it’s not when you have one socket in your room, only two eyes to keep an eye on everything, and one brain to remember to wake up at 02:00 to swap the chargers over.
I have a month of Central America coming up, and then a further month in South America. I am happy, smiling and enjoying things like taking photos of the locals – which sometimes means building up the courage to ask some slightly dodgy looking folk their stories and for a photo. I’ve had two guys promise to get their prostate checked, and that made me feel like the expedition will be worth it, maybe sooner rather than later. I enjoy telling everyone about Kev. It keeps me focused, proud and humble. Sad at times, but the occasional message from Kev perks me up – thanks mate.
Aside from the day-to-day of living in this expedition bubble I also have to think about its future. I need more funding, and I need to start to plan the closing event in 2019. I’m big into photography and am keen to hold a huge touring exhibition of all the wonderful faces and places I’ve seen and managed to capture on film. I also want to hold a get-together for all my supporters and friends at the London Marathon in April.
I have the North Korean official marathon in April, too, along with a longer break in Peru to rest and recuperate. By the way, you can join me in North Korea if you so wish – just search Nick Butter Koryo Tours and you’ll be able to sign up. It’s one of the best ways to see North Korea, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Checkout the link.
I’m also planning a three-week detour in the US: to the West Coast to visit some cancer research centres and to gather as many people as possible for a fundraising party and, of course, a marathon in the Grand Canyon – literally right through it. As you can imagine there’s a lot to sort out, so my down time consists of lying on a beach, or by a pool, or in bed, and every five minutes reaching for my phone to make some notes or to send a WhatsApp with some ideas. If you have ideas, anything you’d like to see drop me a WhatsApp. +447754328355
I really hope that everyone continues to support me and the ‘why’ behind this trip. I really want to hit the £250,000 target with JustGiving by the time I finish.
If you haven’t already, please listen to the podcast. You get to listen to me and others trying to talk while running, with lots of interviews with people I’ve met. Thanks to Patch for pulling it all together.
Here’s a list of the countries I’ve run in and the routes I’ve taken so far this month. All the stats about each run can be found on Strava. Thanks to Suunto for providing me with all the kit I need to track this trip.
Here’s the routes.
United States of America: Miami
The Bahamas: Nassau
Haiti: Port au Prince
Dominican Republic: Santo Domingo
300 meter loops around the high commission compound. 140 laps ish. Safety first.
Trinidad and Tobago: Port of Spain
Grenada: St George’s
St Vincent and the Grenadines Kingstown
Saint Lucia Micloud
Saint Kitts and Nevis Basseterre
Antigua and Barbuda
A huge thank you to everyone who has helped with my accommodation. I’ve hardly paid for a single night so far. There are so many wonderful people in the world, and I seem to keep bumping into them. Or maybe they’re everywhere and we all just need to say hello more often. I like to try to get a smile from as many people as I can. You should try it – it doesn’t matter if they look like they might hit you, cuddle you or just out right ignore you, it really is worth a shot…
Author: Nick Butter.
Link to Nick’s blog and article.
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