A New World Record, Butter Runs Marathon 196
Nick Butter has completed his record-setting quest to run a marathon in every country in the world. Fittingly, he wrapped up his nearly two-year journey in Greece, the birthplace of the marathon.
In our last update, Butter had just completed his marathon in Libya and had 11 more countries to go. Kicking towards the finish line he completed these in just over two weeks! From Libya, he travelled to Iran, a country that had previously refused him entry. Butter’s team had eventually found a workaround, he would fly to the island of Kish to complete his marathon. On his arrival at the airport, Butter witnessed a dramatic gunpoint arrest and deportation; an ominous sign while he waited to clear immigration! He was granted entry but faced more problems soon after. His guide was not prepared at all to support his run and Butter had to run most of the marathon with no water. By the finish, he was badly dehydrated, so much so that he urinated blood. He only spent 11 hours in Iran and was very relieved to fly out soon after the run.
Lusaka, Zambia was his next destination for marathon 187. He ran along one of the city’s busiest roads and was soon coated in a layer of dust and dirt. Still, he was relieved to be well supported here, with readily available water and some enthusiastic hotel staff joining him to begin the run.
Next up was Lilongwe, Malawi. A smaller city allowed Butter to get out into the countryside for this run and he enjoyed the orange dirt trails and pleasant weather. From Malawi, he flew back up north to the horn of Africa, landing in Asmara, Eritrea after a brutal 11-hour layover in Ethiopia. Butter arrived just in time to catch the second half of the rugby world cup final before running his marathon. He was looked after by the British ambassador and a support team who kindly escorted him, providing directions and water for his run around the city.
Sudan was Butter’s last mainland country in Africa and he flew into Khartoum on day 661 of his quest. He wasn’t sold on the city during his brief visit, describing it as “just messy, smelly, and another African city.” The run passed quickly, and it was on to another tricky country, Yemen.
As with Iran, Butter had initially been refused entry to Yemen, necessitating a flight to Oman and a land border crossing. The plan was to cross into Yemen, run his marathon and immediately depart. Butter’s driver/fixer was able to bribe the border patrols to get them in, but the “hotel” they were headed for proved to be a half-finished construction site just 400m from the border itself. Butter didn’t get much sleep and was up early to get the marathon finished and return to the safety of Oman.
It wasn’t going to get easier for Butter; Damascus, Syria would be marathon 192. He flew to Lebanon and was driven across the border into Syria. The journey was nerve-wracking due to recent demonstrations in Lebanon, but fortunately, the drive was uneventful. Butter ran through Damascus and was soon on his way back towards Beirut. He counted a whopping 29 people who had been involved to ensure his Syrian marathon would be possible.
It was back to more familiar ground next. Butter flew to Lisbon, Portugal and met up with friend Andy to run marathon 193. It was a chilly, wet run but a relief to be back in Europe. Together with Andy, he then flew down to Praia, Cape Verde for marathon 194. He was greeted by quite a congregation for this run. Camera crews and media members turned up, as well as around 20 local runners.
His penultimate marathon took him back to the Middle East. He flew to Jerusalem, Israel and seemed smitten by the country. “I have learnt loads about the city, the people, religion, history, you name it. I think the city and of course the entire country are the most mesmerising I’ve seen,” Butter explained.
Finally, Butter flew to Athens, Greece for the final run of his long quest. He was joined by family, friends and supporters, including Kev, the man who inspired Butter to raise awareness of prostate cancer. One last glorious run and Butter was finished, crossing the finish line after 675 days. It’s an incredible physical and logistical feat, and in the process, Butter has raised over $80,000 for charity.