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.
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.
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.
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.
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.