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Nick Butter (Runner)

Who is Nick Butter? Ultrarunner Nick Butter recently set a world record, becoming the first person in history to run a marathon in every single country globally – 196 marathons in all 196 nations. On Today’s podcast, we talk about this unbelievable achievement. This episode has it all, from running in Iran to being used as a drug mule getting into the Yemen.

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Transcript of our Conversation

Nick Butter

[00:00:00] Nick Butter: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the modern adventurer podcast coming up. You’ve been, I think, got a little bit hairy in sense. I got I was marked at knife point in a gunpoint in Lagos in Nigeria. I had some big cat incidents were very, very close to some big animals in the wild by accident.

I also was hit by a car. I was shocked. I was put in a cell. I had a minor heart attack. I was attacked by dogs. You name it basically. But we two, nearly two years around the world. That’s what you get. On today’s show. We have Nick busser, an ultra marathon runner. She ran a marathon in every country around the world. On today’s show. We talk [00:01:00] about his experience and the sort of logistical nightmare that goes in to an 18 month expedition like this, I’m doing this. We talk about some of the crazy trips from Turkmenistan to his insane story about being used.

It’s a drug meal getting through to the Yemen without knowing, but we have him. And I am delighted to introduce Nick butter to the show. Oh, thank you so much for having me looking forward to chatting things, all things, adventure and there. Yeah. Thank you. Well, you’ve had quite the adventure. I mean a marathon and all 196 countries over 18 months.

I mean, that just sounds. Unbelievable from probably Petraeus mountains to war zones. I mean, there’s, there’s quite a lot to cover, but I suppose probably the best place to start is with you and how you got into running and this sort of lust for adventure. Yeah, of course. So I guess, I guess running you, everybody does it by accident.

Sometimes whether you’re running for a bus [00:02:00] or running to the fridge or whatever it may be, but I guess you just take it that next step further. Everybody goes through the cycles of running for fitness and running for them, for enjoyment and then to compete. And then it goes a step further. And I obviously ran and make it made in my job, I suppose.

But running for me is. It’s about the endorphins, the peace, the calm, the serenity of moving through a country slowly at it, effectively walking pace just a little bit quicker. And so there’s a little bit more efficient and you get to see things, you know, I think it’s quite different from cycling or whether you’re going in a car because you do see stuff that otherwise you’d miss.

As you know, so running is very special. I guess I got into it properly. When I started to do normal races, just the new marathon here and there. And then I thought I’m not bad at this. Maybe do do a bit of a longer race. And so I did a big, it did an ultra and then I went and did, did pretty well, then won a few and won a few more and then race and race and race, and then kind of almost exhausted [00:03:00] racing to the point that at that point brands were saying to me, would you like to come and do this race or do this way?

So, and I had to actually turn lots down because I was working. I had a real job. I was in finance. And so. I had to give up my banking job to be a runner. And that’s not what a lot of people do. And so I understood though that on one hand I was filling the bank. And on the other hand, I was kind of degrading the, the soul, the soul bank, if you like.

So it was just a matter of balancing it and for running, it was, it was such an escape through the stresses of work. And I think everybody does that. Anybody that enjoys running, and I think you have to get to that stage where you enjoy running, then it’s complete escapism and you can want it. You can be listening to a fiction book about something you, you completely mystical and it can be off in your own head.

And then the other, you can be focused on your run and. It’s it’s absolutely brilliant. And then I gave up my job and started running and and eventually we came to this point where I wanted to run a marathon in every country in the world. [00:04:00] And amazingly we did it. The people close to a trip we’ll, we’ll say, and we’ll know quite how bad it was to get to the finish.

I was the only life traveled on my own, but most of the time but the people that were planning it, we honestly, for months we really didn’t think we were going to finish. So yeah, so I suppose that’s the, that’s the story of me. Runner, and then you just kind of keep on running. So what was the kick that sort of, because I can’t imagine, sort of comes to everyone to do this sort of trip.

What really propelled you to do this hundred and 96 marathons? Was there something that sort of triggered it? Cause I, I usually find. There is always a trigger that sort of says, I need to do this. I do. I think there is one trigger. I think this particular example was the, the last final trigger. You know, it was almost like a series of pushes towards the edge of the cliff.

And this one push [00:05:00] was the one that popped me over the edge. And that was meeting this guy called Kevin. I ran the marathon sub race out in the, in the Moroccans are a desert obviously grueling race tents of I think it was about how many times is a thousand people that take part tens of eight.

And and one of these guys was Kevin. Kevin was 49 at the time. Happy, generally normal looking bloke, quite tall, massive smile, just a jolly bloke. And we got chatting about running and stuff. And then he told me that he had terminal prostate cancer, and I said, I don’t know what you, and he said, yeah. Apparently, apparently only got two years to live and it was completely out of the blue.

And he was almost saying like, he was just going to buy a new car or something. And well, and, and then I realized over many hours of SIM speaking and then weeks afterwards of finishing that race and going back and kind of dwelling on what he was talking about. You know, during that conversation, he said, don’t wait for a diagnosis.

Don’t wait for something to happen for [00:06:00] you to completely follow your dreams. And he said, even then even there’s lots of people out there that believe they’re following their dreams or living their life to the full, when they’re actually making excuses of why they don’t do lots of stuff. And so he said just, you know, try and start again.

Like I have a nice blank canvas and write down what you want to do. And obviously wanted to raise some money for prostate cancer after meeting him. And then I thought, well, what better way than to listen to his advice? And I was already running, I already had a decent beginnings of a running career. But he kind of opened up the opportunity for me to combine all of my passions, photography, running meeting people, traveling the world, you know, and this was, this was all of a sudden, a way to incorporate raising some money for prostate cancer, prostate cancer, UK And so I dreamt the idea up after Googling.

It realized nobody had done it and thought, right, we have to do that. And at the time I didn’t even know how many countries there were. And it took a long time to get to the start line to two years. And then those two years there was [00:07:00] lots of, you know, finding the finances, understanding the logistical challenges.

Wasn’t an intentional two years. I thought it would maybe take a month. It just took lots of time to get right. And then eventually we’re ready to go on January the sixth, 2018 and 674 days after that. So 23 months after I started, we crossed the finish line eventually. Well, yeah, it sounds like a complete logistical nightmare with it.

You know, you’ve got to have 196 countries, so many visas to so many countries, which would probably, you know, reject your visa just because they want to, whether it’s a war zone or whether it’s political reasons. So to get 196, must’ve just been. Incredible. But at the same time, very stressful. How did you do it?

How do we do it? People, I think people are at the heart of everything that any, any [00:08:00] adventure or a traveler will tell you that, that it is all about the people. And I think, I believe that when people said, Oh, are you going to meet so many people, it will change your life. And I thought, yeah, yeah, yeah.

But now I realize I get it. Like the people of the world human beings. Are just fundamentally so special, like unbelievably unfathomably special. And I got to see that every every, every walk of life basically. And they propelled me around the world. So the answer is how we did it with a lot of help from my friends, I guess.

And. Talk about Visa’s particular company called universal visas, worked all of my visas for me. We thought we’d need about 220 flights. We ended up needing 455 flights. We thought we need about two or three passports. We ended up needing nine. And it was just this massive mess of, Oh yeah. I’ve climbed this well too.

I have done a really bad job at planning there. So this is hard now. [00:09:00] And we ran out of money after the first few months and I wrote it in a book, you know, the spiral of just the stresses of making sure we we’re being able to continue because, you know, once you start, you can’t just stop and start again because there’s a hell of a lot to do.

And we were running what, three marathons in three different countries every week for 96 weeks giving, you know, averagely And with that pace, you don’t have any time to anybody that has done some decent traveling. You’ll know, you rely on like airports as your, like your home. Basically airports feel the most familiar.

They have wifi, they have food and everything else in between. It’s just up to you to get by and make it, make sure it happened, happens. And so and even airports sometimes let you down. So yeah, it was, it was a struggle to get the planning done. But it was a, it was a great, a great combination of like blissfully blissfully, ignorant and completely innocently naive.

When we went into the planning and have that little bit in the case, [00:10:00] then I think it would have been the too afraid because it was just so complicated. But we, we eventually got there. So 196 countries, let’s start with number one. No, I’m joking. We’ll be here all night. But I say, when I read the book, I literally did that.

I was, I was going to go, I’m going to get a detailed account of everything. I’ll see how long it pays me to do. And the book that is now ours, 400 odd pages nearly 500, I think. But when over the original manuscript was three times bigger it was like 300 and something thousand words. And we ended up having to cover color a lot of my rubbish bits out and put all of the, the essential bits in, because there’s just so much that happened.

Every single country has a story. It’s it’s one of those things. Every country has their own unique sort of special specialty. And you know, where. Where you traveling or different. There’s just [00:11:00] so much that you appreciate about each one. And it’s just that little individuality. And the heart sort of distinct, they’re easy to distinguish, but you know, 196 sorta talk about, yeah, it’s feeling people actually say to me, well, how, how can you get to experience a country when you’re only there for a couple of days and you’re running a marathon?

My answer to that is. Yeah, I’m not experiencing the entire country, but I am very quickly arriving a stranger and then turning into somebody that knows how the customs and the culture operates. So whether that is about religion and whether that is about when prayer time happens. Or what the customs are like about covering up or what side of the road the traffic drives on, or if they have traffic lights or not, or if they are a country that beats their horn all the time, or if they’re a country, it could be neat and tidy and, and have no cars on the roads at all.

And there’s literally is, is sort of like a, an a writer’s dream because everything is so, so, so different and [00:12:00] comprehensively intricate. It’s, it’s magical. Well let’s I suppose a couple of years ago, I was out in central Asia and the middle East Turkmenistan, which was a slightly bizarre country.

I found what happened there because visas are, can be quite difficult to get into that country. And it’s the most bizarre place that I think I’ve ever been to. For all the weird reasons that no one could really comprehend. Well, the weird reasons I love Terminus Stan is, is crazy. And it’s got its downside as well.

Obviously the rich poor divide in Terminus, not as very, very obvious the Capitol is Ashgabat obviously where, where you experienced and the city it is imagined. A child has been given a Lego sets made of only white bricks and the bricks. You have to make towers of massive [00:13:00] structures. So basically 10 minutes, Don is a.

It’s a model village, but on a real scale made of marble, the entire city is made of marble and anybody that doesn’t know Turkmenistan’s laws and the, the leader of their country is frankly nuts. And they have renamed all of the days of the week. After the leaders, children, I believe correct me if I’m wrong.

And I think that was right. Yeah. I think it was the old leader, not the current leader. That’s very true. That’s very true. The old leader, the old leader, they’re still the names of the days of the week is still the same. Yeah. But the current dictators, like he was his old dentist. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

That’s right. He loves, he loves horses and there’s always, they would leader the statue has been everywhere, but. It’s an unbelievable place because it’s utterly clean and it’s also completely, completely empty. You have highways, [00:14:00] it’s like a city for the future, right? When the world is full, will spill over into this beautiful country that is ready to ready to live in.

You’ve got like a, it’s almost like a going back to the Lego analogy like this magical. Building maze of white marble. And then on the outskirts, you’ve got all of the bricks that were kind of discarded and, and that’s where the poor divide begins. And it’s quite shocking. And I run in both of those debts absolutely amazing place.

I don’t want to say it’s the weirdest place I’ve been along to one of the weirdest North Korea is obviously up there. But that Scott actually seems incredibly similar in the sense of cleanliness and scale and emptiness and the only you, I suppose, North Korea feels a little bit more.

Dark, I suppose as the answer, like kind of not dirty, but I guess it’s the, the, the preconceptions that you bring onto it, you make it, make it what that is, but [00:15:00] yeah, no, actually about so many Stan was an experience. I was very hot when I was running as well, actually, because over that hundred and 96 countries, you must to run a marathon, you know, sometimes where you sort of run along the roads where you on the beaches while you.

Cause each one must have been so different. I, I sort of heard you had quite a, sort of an experience in Syria and Damascus. Could you tell everyone about that? Yeah, Sarah. Yeah, you’re right. So I ran everything from beaches to like love of fields to tar, to grass, to sand lit everything or monsoon mud in Nepal actually.

But yeah, Syria was a great experience. I So the full story is this series. It was nearly the end. So I was about 190 countries in 200 and 196. And Syria was obviously has its own preconceptions and dangerous. [00:16:00] And I was going over Overland into Syria from the root, I believe. Am I getting that right?

Yes. From Beirut into Syria to Damascus spirits, Damascus And a few days before my, my dad called me and said that the organization that we had support that had supported us in order to get in, get this done, it was about 24 different people that managed to link up the safe access into Syria. It was so difficult because we were going over land and we needed to make sure it wasn’t going to be canceled.

And I got a call from my dad saying really sorry, but. Your driver who we’d organize months ago to take me into Syria from Beirut has been shot and killed on that same drive, literally the day before you were a two days before you arrive. And obviously that’s incredibly sad and shocking, but also we were then stuck in Beirut without our own we’re travel.

Cause we were obviously hopscotching from one to the next. And so we were. A [00:17:00] write up the spout. And I also had a bad feeling about it cause it was loads of protests in Beirut at the time it was the last 20, was it 2019, October, November. And and there was flaming roadblocks everywhere. It’s a very hostile experience.

And I really thought we were getting into something, you know, it was gonna go wrong. But anyway, long story short, we found another driver. We went into Syria, went into Damascus and I was expecting. To feel afraid because of everything. Yeah. You see in the news. And actually I had completely the opposite experience.

I was hosted by this brilliant chap who helped me find the hotel they stayed in, which was a beautiful hotel, absolutely stunning. In the middle of the old town, it wasn’t just out somewhere in a nice, neat compound. This was real. A hotel in the central Damascus and an amazingly late to that day, when I ran, I was, I ran with the under nineteens female national faculty who have just happened to be [00:18:00] training in the stadium where I was going to be starting my run.

And we ran around the stadium together. And then the other football team, the other, the, the boys’ national team came on a regional teams or he came on and we did a bit of running together and just talk about people and community and the amazing feeling. They made that so unbelievably special.

Cause they didn’t know I was this Nutter from England. There’s going to be running around the stadium and they’re SETI. And yet they open, welcomed me with open arms and I had the most amazing feeling of being such a small piece of such a brilliant world. And Is again, when it catches you. I tried to, as the trip went on, I tried to learn to not let my preconceptions kind of, yeah, give me the experiences.

And yeah, I went into Syria expecting to be afraid because of war. And I should have known, I should have known there’s something was going to happen because every country I went to that was the same thing all of my preconceptions wrong. But [00:19:00] now we have the most amazing time in Syria and I will never, I will never forget that day because.

It was, as you can imagine them going to every country, there’s a handful of countries that you would pull out of the air of that might be tough. And Syria was one of them and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable. Yeah, I think a lot of what I love about travel is that it does break down preconceptions.

So of different countries, you, you see these countries portrayed so badly in Western media sometimes. And you know, I, when I did my trip where it was in Iran, but. You suddenly go there and you suddenly find that the locals are just so welcoming and hospitable and they could not be nicer. And what you see in the media and what you experienced are two very different things.

Yeah, that’s so true. And I’ve always like, I almost feel like I want to campaign for like a good news channel where there’s only the good stuff that goes on. Cause I’m amazed that there’s literally thousands of [00:20:00] news channels. And all they want to hear about is the bad stuff when my experience and most people that travel a lot.

Is the experiences there’s so much good in the world that goes on everywhere from every walk of life, every religion, every race, every

there is so much more good than bad. And what you see on the news is bad stuff. And I understand because that’s dumb and that’s what we, human beings, you know, expecting to see on the news. I just wish we could mix it up a bit. And I guess your, your, your platform like this job is one of those, honestly, and that’s why I love doing these kinds of things because it’s it’s the, it’s the only voice of good in the world.

Isn’t it? I sort of agree. I mean, Throughout that, I mean, you must have had so many countries where it was like that you went there with that sort of fear that something bad was going to happen. And then when you got there, it’s sort of. I know, it’s just like you get there and you’re just like, wow, [00:21:00] why was I even fearful?

Why did I even build this up in my head to be terrified when actually the reality is just so different from what I was thinking? Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. And there’s also the other side of the coin where I think preconceptions generally are a bad idea because you immediately put yourself in a, an expectation box of, of that.

And it’s then very difficult to come out of it even like, I don’t know The Bahamas or Cuba or those kind of places that don’t just me as somewhere that I might be fearful of you. I have preconceptions, let’s say The Bahamas lovely white beaches, Lucy. Bright blue sky and sun. And I was running in The Bahamas and it was torrential rain and floods in overcast and cloudy and windy and horrible.

And so once again, my preconceptions that I thought can’t win. I can’t be wrong this time. I was wrong again. And say, whether it’s the weather, whether it’s the culture, whether it’s the political volatility, whether it’s Wars, whether it’s a random protest in a place there’s so many things And [00:22:00] yeah, he’s just, it just shows you the wonders of the world, I guess.

And I quite like that, even though I desperately tried to not. Let my preconceptions determine what I was expecting. They did up until the final day where I still do now. So I don’t know whether I’m going to ever get out of that. Did what was the sort of, was there a particular moment on your 18 month expedition where you sort of look back and you’re, you can pinpoint one moment where you were like, wow, what an amazing moment?

Gosh, there’s so many like that. I had a, a couple of very moving when I was in a, so one was in El Salvador. When I ran with a thousand kids in San Salvador, in the city, I always kind of planning that, you know, maybe running on my own or maybe the embassy would come out and put few people out, but the embassy had a we’d contacted them.

They then organized with the ministry of support of sport and the elite athletes in schools, in the international schools. Loads of kids coming out, waving [00:23:00] union, Jack flags and sharing, they’re sharing their story and running with people. I just have those overwhelming feeling of just overslept inferior to the moment because it was so, so wonderful.

And then other moments where one was in I’m in Panama. When I went to see we didn’t, we visited loads of schools and organizations and running clubs and hospitals and children’s hospitals and orphanages. And basically tried to see as much of the real world as occurred. And one of these was in Panama.

And in Panama I went to CA cancer rehabilitation center in a rehab center, a a chemotherapy ward, sorry. In Panama. And there was these old leather chairs with people that were looking. Quite solid in their chairs when I walked in and it was an air conditioned room, obviously Panama’s very hot.

And I was sweating buckets and they will all in there. What wrapped in jackets with the drips in their arms and, and something most amazing thing where [00:24:00] when they finished the chemotherapy session, they go and ring the bell. And it’s like a sign of. I am still alive and kicking and we are going to beat this.

And obviously cancer is so universal. I was doing it for a cancer cause and sat down and had a few chats with these people. It was the most. Just special moment to experience. And there’s lots of tears when we went back, cause that was mid runs. We then had to carry on running and think about this and that was very special.

And then there’s plenty of other opportunities. One, one in which my last example, cause there’s lots of them is I was running in the Caribbean somewhere. And I was running, I ran out of money, run out of water and I really desperately needed some water. And I came across a lady who at a tiny little store with a few bottles of things like some fuel and fuels and some plastic, what was on some water.

And I said, Oh, can I can I, can I have a sip of water? Can I have a cup of water? I’ll bring you money back another time. I’ll [00:25:00] bring money back when I finished. And she just said the most simplest things you just gave me the bottle of water and said, water is life. And just looked at me as like, you need it.

And this is somebody that has absolutely nothing in comparison to material things that I would or jobs or opportunities or freedoms. And she’s just willingly going. Yeah, there you go. That was such a strong correlation wherever I went, the less people had, the more they wanted to give. And I’m sure you’ve experienced that too.

It’s the most weird paradox of travel and the world and I think those moments will sum up why I have so much admiration for the diversity of the planet. Well, there are any sort of hairy moments you’ve had because you’ve must, you’ve crossed quite a few borders. You’ve quite a few customs. You must have had quite a bit of difficulty here and there.

Lots of different groups. I’ve had quite a few moments where I’ve forgotten which country I’m flying in from and which country I’m in. [00:26:00] A number of times, I’d say at least four specific times where I’ve been questioned by immigration staff of wherever you come from and where are you staying? And I had no idea.

I don’t know. And I was just so tired. And I was really stumped, you know, when you’re in that moment where, you know, you have the answer, but you just think. I don’t know. I don’t know. So that was quite embarrassing, but now things got a little bit hairy in the sense I got I was marked at knife point and a gunpoint in Lagos in Nigeria.

I had some big cat incidents where were very, very close to some big animals in the wild by accident. I also was hit by a car. I was shocked. I was put in a cell. I had a minor heart attack. I was attacked by dogs. You name it basically. But it two, nearly two years around the world. That’s what you get.

Yeah. And they were moments, which I still look back with a fond memory. Cause you, as everybody knows the whole point of this kind of endurance and life, I [00:27:00] suppose, in general, as you overcome them and then you enjoy overcoming them as well. So no scary moments, but moments that I can look back with fond memories of, I think, yeah.

I th I think it all happens to us. You have to experience the bad to appreciate the good. Yeah, absolutely. It’s so it’s so easy as well to just assume that I w I know I have 22 different bouts of food poisoning in two, in 20 hours. And I come on that’s I thought I might get food poisoning once or twice, and it be horrible, but I got food poisoning a lot.

And that was just because I was so run down. My body was depleted. I was also hungry, so I was eating anything. And yeah, that, that made the the running a little bit more hard. Yeah. I’m running marathons zones. An empty stomach and food poisoning. It’s just brutal. It’s not a nice feeling. Running on empty, running on empty energy wise, let alone when you’re vomiting every mile or where I have kidney infections, I was pig blood a lot of the [00:28:00] time.

Like my body was just wrecked. And all it was, it was a case of just having that tiny little bit of rest between countries where I was on a plane, like my safe places. And if I was lucky, I’d be able to get to the airport and they’d have never air conditioning or they’d have somewhere I could sleep on the floor.

So yeah, the it’s amazing though. And like you say, you’ve got to have the rough of the smooth. The logistics of food I found it’s really difficult because you sort of plan it. And in these countries you might sort of see in on Google maps that this is a little town which you’ll run through or something.

Then when you get there, it’s absolutely nothing. And so you sort of plan to maybe have your snack or have your lunch there and suddenly. There’s nothing. And so you then running on empty for the rest of the day, did you sort of carry a massive backpack with stuff in it or were you just like hotel drop it off run, come back.

Yeah, [00:29:00] that’s right. Yeah. Most of my equipment was like camera gear and filming stuff. And obviously just a few items of clothing and like books and pens and things like that, but nothing major. So I run without anything and I got very good at just finding places and got quite good at learning that.

I need to turn around and run somewhere else. That’s just the benefit of not doing point to points of the benefit of dress running the distance in the country is means. I know if I’m, you know, if I run three miles in one direction and I don’t find anything. It’s probably safer to run this back three miles and drink and then go in a different direction.

Because yeah, I got out, I got into a few sticky. Everyone was a good example where I ran in Keisha Island and it was very hot, very early in the morning. And I only had about 12 hours in the country. And. The guy that was my driver, lovely chat, very friendly, but didn’t really understand what I was doing.

That’s another thing I learned is that the rest of the world doesn’t all know what running is [00:30:00] a sport or what marathons are as I’m sure you experienced. And so I, I said to him, no, I need, need to get water before we go. And he was going to follow me in the car. So this happened quite a few times in countries where I’d have people with water if it was unsafe there.

You’re all very hot, which was both in the East in this case. And he followed me and he said, I will get walked around the corner around the corner, so, okay. We’ve got round the corner. And there’s nothing I said. Is there a water soon? Cause I’m like, it’s an eight miles now. Like I need some water and then more and more miles went by in the same conversation.

I was getting quite grumpy with them cause I really need water now. And I did 24 miles without any water in like 30 or degrees. At like two o’clock in the morning having only just landed. It was horrendous. Unfortunately I managed to there was a little classic travel, I suppose it was a little was there a construction site near a petrol station in the middle of nowhere in cash.

And it had [00:31:00] nothing in it apart from a few cables and like some scaffolding and a water cooler. And it had water in it. And I was like, I don’t know how long this has been here, but I am having that water. And that was the only way I drank. Yeah. And that was, that was through the whole mountain. Good.

And with the sort of escorts, I mean, I find it slightly embarrassing when you have someone driving behind it sort of four miles an hour, creepy and behind you. I mean, it makes you run faster, but you just sort of, they’re running, being like, Oh God, the poor person in the back. Some people don’t know what they’re getting into either because I don’t think some people you, Oh, no, you just need to follow the for a few hours and he’s running a marathon.

Like if my team had organized it for me, they really realized that I’m running at running pace or slower and it’s very hot. Then I have air-con or it might be Ramadan that happened many times where they’re seeing me knacking water and eating on my runs and they can’t drink or eat. [00:32:00] And that’s, that’s brutal.

It’s also having cars. Cars driving behind you is really not very peaceful. So I got used to asking them to either drive ahead or, or wait or something, but it was incredibly, I absolutely needed them because there was many opportunities that I, you know, I could have been mugged or lost or all sorts of things.

Had they not been there now, mainly for water really, and will happen in the Yemen. Yeah, man. Huh? Yeah. But you haven’t was another Overland journey right near the end. Might think marathon number 191, maybe I’m right in that new. I remember the order, let’s say it was close to the end, running in Yemen. I was going over land from Amman.

And it was a few hours over the morning mountains, gorgeous mountains, dead of night. So kind of sunsetting as we got to the border. And the driver that I [00:33:00] has, well, just be very good English, but was very friendly. Picked me up. A little, you know, classic travel things, pick me up from the airport.

And then he said, Oh, I just have to go over to this garish. Cause I need to pick up a new windscreen. You know, it didn’t have a windscreen in his car. And so pick up a new windscreen, put that in and then he would take me. And so that was already a bit odd, but then We got to the border and it was one of the most, if not the most scary, I’m going to say the most scary moment of my life.

When I realized we were in this dead of night, lots of military or people with guns and officials with their uniforms and their dogs and stuff surrounding the car. And we’re in the middle of their money, does it on the, on the border. And if you look at it on the map, it’s just barren, absolutely barren.

And and then. We had dawned on me that the guy that was driving us, he was trying to smuggle in drugs and counterfeit goods into the country. And he was using me practically as an excuse, as a mule to get these into the [00:34:00] country. And I was there in the passenger seat and hearing these conversations in Arabic, which I couldn’t understand, but I got the gist that we were in trouble.

Unfortunately, fortunately he managed to give give everything that he had to these guards in order to let us go. But it, it took a long time and I really didn’t know if we were going to get in or if we were ever going to see anybody ever again, they could’ve just put me in a cell. As you know, there’s some countries that don’t let you, you know, the British government don’t have any responsibilities to come and save you because you’re a bit of an idiot to go there.

And so I, I went and I was genuinely fearful that I was never going to see my family or friends or loved ones again, because. They were angry and then everything passed and let it subsided. And he, the driver was annoyed, but we got into the country. And I realized, ah, I mean, Yemen now. And we don’t have anything to Bart with on the way out.

And it’s going to be the same chops. Like, are we actually going to leave? [00:35:00] Like, are they just, what, what are they trying to pull there? And unfortunately we didn’t have any trouble. Well, let’s say we just had to have a lot of patients. I’m sure you’ve had it. You just have to have. Like a bucket of patients.

And then you have to have a loan of like the thousands of buckets of patients in order to be able to get through these borders, because it’s just so slow and just, you feel like they’re just trying to put every blocker in your way, especially when you’re tired as well. So you just have to be patient and stand there very, very quietly.

And eventually they let you go. But it was that was scary. That was, that was scary. After using you as a drug meal, did you tip him? You kept him. If I could, if I could tip him, I would not have tipped him as it happened. They took all of our money. So there was no opportunity to tip. There was, you know, their, their story goes on because he there’s little, we’re supposed to be staying in a hotel before we go at, went over the border.

And I’m as dubious about where this hotel was going to be, as we were driving through the mountains, because there was [00:36:00] nothing. Like camels and mountains and road and a few cars, very few cars. And that’s it. No buildings, no nothing. And we drove past the only kind of building we could see, and it was effectively a concrete shell that looked like it has just been bombarded with bullets.

And that was where we were staying. It was literally nothing other than concrete. And a few broken down walls. And and he then proceeded to invite people that he knew in the area to come and have a party. And they played music in the next room at like crazy o’clock in the morning and I’m like, what’s going on?

And he was chewing the cuts. They’re the, the, the, the grass, you know, like these called cuts that they eat and chew the cat. Yeah. Cats. And they they, and he was kind of the little bit. Yeah, of course face a little bit. And I was like this, guy’s going to have to drive behind me in about five hours time in the morning.

I’ve rarely as it’s going to happen. [00:37:00] Unfortunately, it worked out okay. And we had a different driver but there was lots of military and big tanks and things that went past us. And I, at one point I said, I just need to do another mile or so up here before we can finish. And he said, no, you can’t do it there.

There’s already been people that have been driving past and looking at you as if to say like, we can, we can get him, we can mug him. And so when that happened, you just want to leave. You just want to go. So there was lots of lots of tensions in that one, but That was, I was already, you know, nearly two years into the, experiencing the world.

So I was ready for that stuff, but I’m not quite ready for Yemen. And so to finish off, where, where was your final marathon? Was it in the UK or was an, did Kevin, was Kevin still alive? Yeah. So amazingly Kevin was diagnosed and given two years to live, it took me two years to plan the trip. And so technically by science, they were saying that he probably [00:38:00] wouldn’t be alive by the time I started.

Not only was he alive when we started. But it was also alive when I finished and we crossed the finish line together, hand in hand with him running American with me in Athens, the famous marathon Terrapin is marathon, the marathon of marathons. And so that was our finish line. I’ve never lived 10 and amazingly Kevin is not only, still alive, but doing very, very well.

The sad reality though, with terminal prostate cancer is, is terminally will kill him. And he is still on a, on a clock cause they’re on his website. He has years since he was diagnosed. And I think he’s on six years now. And just phenomenal and that’s, that’s science that has done that. But it’s still very sad that one day we will know that those drugs will stop working and the next set of drugs will stop working.

And then that will be it, unfortunately. But having them there at the finish line in Athens, not just him, but loads of people that had run with me. I’ve got a great friend who used to work with good Andy who came out individually across those [00:39:00] two 23 months and did 19 marathons with me just whenever he could an odd weekend, he’d come out and run.

Which was amazing. He was there, those people to planned it. My parents, girlfriend loads of people from all over the world that had helped host me. And they came to Athens to see me, see me run and celebrate and It was probably one of the greatest days of my life for loads of different reasons.

And it was also quite weird to have the feeling of sadness to finish all that time. I’d wanted to finish because I wanted to get the mission done and achieve the goal. And then it’s done. And like, I’ve literally run out of countries. I can’t, I can’t go and run in another country cause there isn’t any more and yet then you also have the understanding that the world is so much bigger, more, so large, that you could never run everywhere.

Even if you had a thousand years, you know, it’s just so big. And so I’m now hence going after all of these other journeys and running across countries that I want to go and see more of yeah, the old cliche term. [00:40:00] It’s not the destination. It’s the journey. It’s so true though. It’s cliche, but it’s so true.

We even said that girlfriend and I, Nikki, we were saying that was, we were driving back from the Alps and we were talking about, you know, the first year we’ve had in the van and experiencing it. And we had an nightmare getting back over on the tunnel, by the way. And we got back and really, you know what, that was a great journey.

We will, we will always remember that journey. So that’s the same with running the world and everything else we’ve done. So there’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week with the first being. What’s the one that gadget on your trip that you always take with you.

That’s actually quite an easy one. It is an international extension lead with very boring, but incredibly practical. Anybody there stayed in dorms or hostels or basically rubbish hotels. You need an extension cable because you’ve got a lot to charge, especially for [00:41:00] running. You need your watch. You need just sacrificing, you need you your own phone.

You need everything to work. And so an extension cable, as sad as it is, what is your favorite adventure or travel book? Ooh, there’s a fantastic book called Jupiter travels. It is a chap who wrote around the world on his motorbike. This was in the sixties. And it’s, he wrote it as he went and he released it recently.

And I was recommended it through penguin who I published through and they said, just read this because this is a great book. And I, it’s just fantastic, incredibly raw and real experiences of traveling the world when we’re in a time when very few people did. Why are adventures important to you?

They teach you perspective, context, enhance your empathy. They make you value you and everything you have around you. And they [00:42:00] realize you realize how big and how small the world is all in one go. It’s, it’s amazing. How did you think this trip did change you? It gave me. Temper really gave me patience during the trip.

And then you can very quickly become inpatient. But it also, it also gave me the. A second wind of like the lust for life. If you like. I think, you know, in a Western civilization, we all get very, very bogged down with, Oh, I haven’t, I dunno my friend’s going on holiday there or not in a job. That’s earning this much money or haven’t got this car.

I haven’t got this TV. I can’t afford that phone or, Oh, she’s prettier than me or those are these things. And when you see the world just in its raw fantastic form. You go, you know what? I am so lucky, so, so lucky. So I think it’s just appreciating my own privilege. [00:43:00] What is your favorite quote or motivational quote?

I like don’t count the days, make the days count because it doesn’t really matter how long we live for it matters. We’ll be doing in that time. Oh, that’s very nice. People listening are always keen to travel and go on these sort of grand adventures. What’s the one thing that you would recommend them to get started?

Oh, Abel an op an object or an item or a method. Well w anything like yeah, yeah, yeah. I think to have true adventure you’ve got to kind of embody the misadventures. So try and plan something that you want to do. Let’s say you usually go on holiday to the South of France or Spain. Why don’t you pick a place that you’ve never heard of and go there?

I think it’s about going and getting out of your comfort zone in the travel. Cause a lot of people say to me, Oh yeah, I’ve traveled quite a lot. And they [00:44:00] mean they gone to the same four or five places a lot. But I have learned much more from anything in any part of my life, by going to the places that I’d never heard of.

You know, like the pistons of the Pacific islands or some of the central African countries, or literally anywhere, you know, Mongolia. Right. Yeah. People know of Mongolia, Mongolia, but the cultures and the way of life there is just, and the beauty of the country is phenomenal. So just go out and see as much as you can.

Yeah. What are you doing now and how can people follow you in your future ventures? Yeah. So what am I doing now? I am planning to, we literally, I’m not told many people this actually 12th of April, we are about to. Start running my next challenge which is to run Britain and the very essence of adventure.

I realize it’s rather foolish of me to have seen every country and I’ve not actually went around my own country. [00:45:00] And so in the celebration of kind of coming out of lockdown life we start on the 12th of April and we finished on the 24th of July. And. It is all about me pushing myself harder than I have.

We are raising money for the one nine six foundation, which is the foundation I set up from running the world. And that’s going to help people all over the world for, we asked for small donors, patients of one pound 96 per month from individuals everywhere. And that money goes into a pot and we’ve developed this process called the democratic donorship where people that vote, that, that donate to get to vote on who we help once a year.

And so that could be buying a wheelchair for a neighbor that needs it, or whether it be building a school in Uganda, for example. So there’s like the whole spectrum of, of courses that we support. So whatever we’re doing, Britain running Britain trying to break the world record the current people run around the country and about 300 days a walk or, or run it.

I’m trying to run around the country in a hundred days, which means [00:46:00] doing two marathons a day for a hundred days. So that’s going to be. Tough. But we will celebrate with everybody. We’re going to raise the money for the charity. And that’s, that’s coming soon. So that’s, what’s happening very soon.

I’ve got loads of plans. We’re doing Japan, New Zealand, Himalayas, Malawi, et cetera, et cetera, over, over the next couple of years. And then we’ve got a big thing in 2023 in terms of getting involved. I mean, I’ve got a, an increasing band of brilliant people that volunteer their time. We have a team of about 13 or 15 of us now which helped with all our nonprofit stuff.

We focus on three main causes within our. What kind of Nick butter clan, if you like, which is adventure community and environment. So if you’re interested in all that sort of stuff, combined, then get in touch. We have a free or footprint campaign, which is all about the environment. And so I’m learning more about that over the next few years and getting more people involved.

So getting in touch with me there’s this way is to go into the website. Nick butter.com, Nick [00:47:00] potter.com and just email me, which is Nick, Nick butter.co.uk. Or get me on WhatsApp, which is Nick butter run sorry, on, on Instagram, which is Nick butter run and on WhatsApp number is on there as well.

You can WhatsApp me come and run with me, get involved in the projects. If you need any coaching or training, we help with that as well. Basically anything that’s running and fun and doing some good then we’re trying to do it. Oh, absolutely amazing. So how much did you raise at the end of it then?

We raised, so we’re still raising. It’s kind of, it’s never, I’m purposely not closing it. Cause the more and more people hear about it, like shows through like yourself trying to raise more and more. We’ve got to just over 220,000 that we know is happened. So many of that actually is offline donations that haven’t gone through the just giving page and frustratingly, but we’ve had lots of people say, Oh yeah, we’ve given this money.

And it’s kind of all accumulated to about 220, which is great. But I think by the end of this year, we’ll probably be up at two 50 which was our [00:48:00] original target. I think we did pretty well considering that. Many of the countries I was going through, obviously nobody from those places can afford to donate.

And so therefore most of the donations came from people watching my journey from afar, which I’m very grateful for. And to show that that, that grass judo spoke for everybody’s name, that donated in the back of the book to say, thank you. So there’s some things about four or 5,000 names in there that people have people that donate and say, thank you to everybody that did it.

So. We managed to do it. We completed our mission. And now it’s time to get onto the next one. Well, your book is on, on the website. So you can buy it at my website if I’m for anyone who wants to read it and yeah. Go check them out on Instagram. Thank you so much, man. That’s I I’m really grateful for that.

And I think again, a lot of people may assume and take it for granted that you are. Enabling people or me to have a platform and a [00:49:00] voice to share what we’re doing. So, so thank you to you as well. No worries. Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I sort of feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface of your trip.

I think there’s a hundred more stories to get through. I mean, we didn’t even touch on Africa already or South America or America or anywhere. There’s a lot to it. thank you, mate. Absolute pleasure to chat. Please do get in touch with me yourself directly and we’ll get some running done another time or get you involved in some of the trips you’ve got coming up.

Yeah, well that sounds great. Well, Nick, thank you so much for everything and coming on the show. No, thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Well, that is it for today. Thank you so much for watching and I hope you got something out of it. If you did hit that like button and subscribe, if you haven’t already, and I will see you in the next video.

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