*196 quoted by the United Nations, Nick actually ran 211 to future proof the record
Sacking off your nine to five to travel the world is the kind of mindless thought that has probably crossed your mind at some point or other, especially in the bleak months of winter. You’ve probably though, even in your most mindless office moments, not considered running a marathon in every country before have you? For Nick Butter, it took a conversation in the depths of the Sahara, while participating in the infamous Marathon des Sables, to tip him over the edge.
Running alongside Kevin Webber – who’d been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and had been given two years to live – Nick couldn’t compute the man’s broad smile and positive mentality. Rather than blaming his ‘run a marathon in every single country on earth’ lightbulb moment of madness on severe dehydration, Kevin was to be Nick’s inspiration to live with more conviction. He made him realise just how precious life is.
“Nothing about this trip was neat and tidy, had I realised how long, difficult, terrifying at times and costly it would be, I honestly don’t think I would’ve started”
If you’re a Londoner, or any city-dweller for that matter, you’ve probably experienced itchy feet while contemplating your sedentary life spent behind a screen. Nick knows, as well as anyone, that it’s the ‘releases’ that get us through it all. “Running is a kind a of therapy,” he says. “I began running shorter distances for fitness, then I discovered how great it is for mental health and escaping the office.”
“My endurance was in my body from a young age, I was involved in sports growing up and I’d run or cycle to friends’ houses and school. I ran my first marathon when I was 11,” he tells me. “Eight years ago I started running more seriously and I had to turn down free race entries and sponsors. It just didn’t seem right. Meeting Kev gave me the impetus to do something amazing, which is when I found out that no-one had run a marathon in every country and thought it had to be done.
“I was a bit naive at the time because I had no idea how difficult would be. Nothing about this trip was neat and tidy, had I realised how long, difficult, terrifying at times and costly it would be, I honestly don’t think I would’ve started. Over 20 or 30 years it’s doable but squeezing it into two years was so difficult.”