Butter on Edge in Africa
Butter had been forced back to the UK from Rwanda to sort out some remaining visa and travel headaches for his remaining African marathons. He did not go into details but the trip seems to have served its purpose. Butter was able to fly to Bujumbura, Burundi on May 23.
The Burundi marathon took place on day 500 of Butter's quest and he described it as “hot and horrible.” He could not find anywhere to pick up water except for his hotel, so he ran the same dusty stretch of road multiple times, popping back into his hotel lobby to hydrate.
From Burundi, he flew on to Maputo, Mozambique. Here he enjoyed staying in a fancy coastal hotel and had a much more enjoyable run too. He experienced the elusive “runner's high” as he ran along the coast, even stopping for an ice-cream and to haggle for some knock-off sunglasses.
Next up was a series of flights to Africa's western coast. Arriving in Luanda, Angola, Butter again spoke about his problems with Africa. Butter described the huge continent as a place that is not “with” but “without”, listing “money, cleanliness, haste, advanced education, perspective, and so on.” His latest trigger point seems to have been a taxi driver who drove him round and round the city while insisting he knew the way. The run didn't improve his mood, on the last leg of his route he passed by a dead body washing up along the coast.
Butter flew on to Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo. Here he hoped to run a quick marathon and then take a boat over to the much larger Democratic Republic of the Congo to run a second.
Butter was clearly on edge, describing dogs and men with automatic weapons patrolling the streets. However, the first marathon went well. Butter was cheered on by locals as he ran and described everyone as very friendly. Despite the warm welcome, he remained nervous: “The feeling of running in Africa is something I’ll have with me forever. I’m always on guard, always conscious to take my phone out for a photo, always gauging the response from my thumbs up towards passers-by.”
The second half of the Congo proved more difficult. The boat journey to Kinshasa was only short, but the whole border process took around six hours to complete. Once finished, Butter was joined by a hodgepodge of international ex-pats for his run. Later that day he was shocked to join some prestigious company at the funeral for the head of state. Butter was in the same room as four African presidents for lunch!