In 2017, we chatted with Bristol-based ultra-runner Nick Butter to find out about his challenge to run a marathon in every country in the world.
Two years, 15 pairs of trainers and more than 400 flights later, he has actually done it, running 26.2 miles in each of the 196 countries on the planet—an outstanding achievement.
The number of 196 countries is based on 193 identified as sovereign states by the United Nations plus three others not officially recognised. However, Nick has actually run 211 marathons, in order to “future proof” the record, by visiting places that might be classed as separate countries in the future.
Having started his first marathon in Canada in January 2018, the now 30-year-old crossed the finish line of the Athens marathon on Sunday 10 November.
The epic 22-month challenge has seen Nick run up to four marathons a week, sometimes in 60°C heat. Changing countries three times a week, he has taken over 455 flights, gone through 10 passports and existed on barely any sleep. He’s run through 15 war zones, pushing on through food poisoning and a kidney infection. And, as if that wasn’t enough to contend with, he was mugged twice and has had his luggage stolen.
For Nick, the sleep deprivation and mental fatigue was all worth it to raise money and awareness for Prostate Cancer UK. Two years in the making, project ‘Running The World 196’ was inspired by a fellow ultrarunner, Kevin Webber, who was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in 2014.
“He’s literally changed my life; his idea is that you shouldn’t wait until you have a terminal diagnosis to do what you love,” said Nick.
The pair met during the Marathon des Sables ultramarathon and Kevin joined Nick to run the final marathon in Athens. In the Twitter video above, taken during the marathon, Kevin explains how important the challenge has been to raise awareness, a better test and treatment for prostate cancer.
“The elation of finishing that run with Kevin and everyone else behind me was just so amazing. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to feel like when I finished,” Nick said. “I feel a bit numb, I’m not really sure what’s going to happen next and I am so, so ready to chat with Kev and have a proper conversation about everything that’s happened in the last few years because we haven’t had time to catch up.”
So far, Nick has raised more than £76,000 of his £250,000 goal. If you would like to donate to the campaign, you can do so below.
Next year, Nick is planning to undertake a UK and European speaking tour to further raise awareness about prostate cancer and to inspire others. If you would like Nick to speak at your school or if you can help organise a talk at a venue near you, email [email protected].
Featured image: Nick Butter