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British runner completes marathons in all 196 countries

Nick Butter's quest, which wrapped up at the Athens Marathon last weekend, took 674 days and has raised more than £75,000 for prostate cancer

How many countries are there in the world? One hundred and ninety-six–just ask Nick Butter of Dorset, UK, who recently became the first person ever to complete a marathon in every single one, in the process raising more than £75,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. Butter’s quest ended at the Athens Marathon (his 196th in as many countries) on Sunday.

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Day 675 – THE FINISH LINE 🏁 🌍🇬🇷🙏🙈🏃‍♂️ — How it feels to cross the line – the speaking tour next year – and how it nearly didn’t happen. — I don’t mind admitting I had a cry today 😢 – just quietly but a cry none the less. I looked out over the ancient city here in Athens and pondered all the stories, the people, the fear, the pain, the suffering, and the sacrifice over these last 675 days – I guess the tears were for the overwhelming feeling of relief more than anything, but also elation for actually making this happen, sadness that it’s over and pride in myself and the team. “I’ve done it” I said to myself. I’ve bloody done it. — There have been countless times when we thought it might not happen. Just 4 weeks ago I had a terrible call from my dad explaining the reality that lay ahead. My dad has been responsible for booking every flight and ensuring the overall plan to reach every country in time. This is a task I can’t even imagine taking on. Dad you’re a legend. — Dad called me and said “we have bad news I’m afraid – Iran have refused your visa, it’s now 95% likely that we won’t hit our finish date, if at all. I’m sorry”… he went on to say “Yemen have also refused the visa, someone has been shot and killed on the road you’ll be driving down in the next few days to gain access to Syria, and we have just 9 hours of wriggle room to make this work. You have 16 countries to go, 4 a week for 4 weeks, and even if we had this access to these countries sorted, the chances of something going wrong are high. I’m sorry son, I don’t know what to say, it really isn’t looking great.”. — The full story of how this was resolved and my finish date made possible is HUGE – No more space on this post. The book is out in April / May 2020 – If you want a copy early please email nick@nickbutter.co.uk — Similarly, if you’d like to hear all the tales of this epic adventure please contact nick@nickbutter.co.uk 🌍 I’ll be visiting 100+ schools around the UK and Europe and 100+ other venues. Book your school, place of work or venue now. — #runningtheworld196 #runningtheworld #runtheworld #nickbutter #running #run #runner #travel #adventure #marathonguy #prostatecanceruk

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The quest, which started in Toronto in January 2018 and took 22 months, was inspired by Kevin Webber, whom Butter met when they both ran the 2016 Marathon des Sables in the Moroccan Sahara. Webber had received a terminal diagnosis five years ago, but was able to run the Athens Marathon with his friend to mark the journey’s completion. You can check it out on Strava, here.

RELATED: Ultrarunner begins trip to complete a marathon in every country

Butter and his team spent two years planning the quest, which included 455 flights, four marathons a week at times, multiple cancelled flights, dangerous crossings of the Congolese river, being attacked by a dog and hit by a car, a tooth infection, a kidney infection, a broken elbow, multiple bouts of food poisoning and endless routing and re-routing to deal with political instability and ensure that he and his supporters would be as safe as possible. Butter ran all six World Marathon Majors as part of the quest, but many of his marathons were not sanctioned events.

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Day 627 – Kiribati 🇰🇮 Tarawa Marathon 180 — Great company and an unexpected brilliant marathon — I must admit that sometimes i really don’t want to get out of bed and run another bloody marathon… but then i think about Kev, the purpose of this mission, the thousands of men dying from prostate cancer, and most of all, i think about how lucky i am to be in a position to be able to do this at all. — Not just the fitness, the team, and the family behind me, but the fact i have so much more than most. (And so do you). The world is beautiful and unfathomably precious but so many people around the world never get the opportunities we have. An education, a chance to explore, the freedom to leave my country… honestly, the list of countless fortunes we (the privileged) have is mind boggling and often taken for granted. These thoughts often bounce around my tired mind as I’m laying in bed urging my body from horizontal to vertical. A word of advice if i may – you’re luckier than you can every possibly imagine. Don’t waste today. You get one shot at this weird and wonderful thing we call life. Stop making excuses and embrace the privileges we have – do what you love – you owe it to all the people that can’t. — Today it was slightly easier to get out of bed. I had Fraser to run with. Fraser, who was a complete stranger 12 hours ago when i landed, is now a friend. Fraser originally from Sheffield, and his daughter Francesca are here on a mini holiday. They live in the Solomon Islands. This pair are not your average father daughter combo though. Fraser left the UK 21 years ago, and has since lived and worked in 10 far flung countries. You can imagine his stories. Francesca is even more impressive – she’s 12, and has visited 31 countries already. She is by far the most knowledgable and mature 12 year old i know. — Fraser and I chatted away the miles, running to the end of the island and back! Bliss. — #runnerguy #nickbutter #runningtheworld196 #runningtheworld #traveller #inspiration #running #run #runner #travel #adventure #pacificocean #guy #globertrotter #hot #worldtravel #whoruntheworld #runtheworld #marathonman #worldrecord #guinnessworldrecord #marathonguy

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With only 16 countries left, Butter ran up against a seemingly insurmountable setback: his father, who was arranging all his travel, called to say that neither Iran nor Yemen would approve his visa. But somehow all the obstacles were overcome, and the journey completed, though it took four months longer than the originally planned 18 months. Butter is about to embark on a speaking tour, has a book deal with Penguin, and there’s a documentary in the works.

RELATED: 16-year-old Marathon des Sables finisher wants to do it again

Butter, 30,  is a former competitive runner and banker.

Prostate Cancer UK raises funds and awareness for prostate cancer, which, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, is expected to kill 4,100 men in Canada this year. The goal is to raise £250,000. Donations may be made by clicking here.