Setting the World Record for Running The Marathon in every country in the world, helping to raise £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK.
I found empty beaches in Mexico, had a fantastically comfortable overnight bus trip to Belize, Some sightseeing after Marathon 17. The most incredibly well supported run in El Salvador followed by the beginnings of a cold in Guatemala. And breath….
Firstly let me say – I LOVED GUATEMALA. Now I can begin.
Day 36 – Cancun, Mexico, Marathon 16
I was lazy this morning. I snoozed my alarm for about an hour more than was needed. A quick stretch, light on, compression socks, hat, Runderwearon, short and vest plus my ARCh MAXbelt for keeping my phones, some cash and two emergency painkillers. Had my Juice Plustablets, my nutlike vitamin, omega 3, and probiotic, and out the door. Darkness was giving way to the day with a lovely sunrise.
At about mile 4 I was treated to a beautiful empty beach with huge, blue crashing waves for miles. I stopped and took some photos. Still can’t beat a good sunset, though. 20 miles later and I was hot, very sweaty and hadn’t drunk enough water. I went for a loop this time, not an out-and-back; passed lots of ‘Beware of crocodile’ signs and then boom, 26.2 miles came around after some busy roads and plenty of dust in my eyes.
Marathon 16 was done and I could now catch up on all the expedition admin, which has been somewhat neglected over the past few days due to lack of internet, and having a great time.
A quick massage and some press for the hotel with some photos and I was ready for bed. But not before an all-inclusive buffet – time to make my empty belly smile. Oh, and a 40-minute taxi to the bus station to buy tomorrow evening’s bus ticket to my next country. Belize is only a £40 8-hour bus journey away, overnight, so I’ll spend tomorrow in the sun.
Day 37 – Mexico to Belize
The good news today? I wasn’t getting on another plane. The bad news? The alternative is an 8-hour bus from Mexico over the border to Belize City, made a little worse by the bus being overnight… or so I thought. I spent the day mostly sleeping and doing the usual admin – things like uploading files to a back-up, sending Patch audio sound bites for the podcast, stretching and eating.
I had to check out of the hotel by 2pm, so that meant unnecessary hassle when needing to get to my bag to change or something, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I went on a little kayak jolly around the coast and then showered in the spa and jumped in a taxi to the bus station.
This overnight bus could have gone one of two ways. Horrendously cramped, very hot or very cold, and no opportunity for sleeping, or plenty of room, two seats to myself, 8 hours of sleep and just the right temperature. I am pleased to report it was the later – the best bus journey of my life. This takes into account the stop at the border and the stop at customs – somehow oddly miles apart. I arrived at 7am into Belize City and made my way to the hotel.
I’d like to dedicate these few days of the trip to my friend Mark. I was told yesterday that he had a completely out of the blue heart attack and had died while out running. On the one hand, I was shocked and sad, but on the other, this reinvigorates my philosophy for life – don’t count the days, make the days count. Mark did, and that makes me smile… but it reminds me of what I constantly preach about. Life is short, and sometimes shorter than you think. Kev’s whole message to me was not to wait for something terrible to happen before I live my life the way I want to live it, and so here I am, 16 countries and 16 marathons completed in just 37 days. Mark and his family have been in my thoughts all day.
Are you living life the way you want to live it?
Day 38 – Belize, Marathon 17
My day started while on the overnight bus from Mexico. I had the best sleep considering I was on a bus. It was touch and go if I’d arrive in Belize in time to run today. I didn’t want to start too late because I was afraid the sun would punish me for daring to run under her midday rays. Arriving at the hotel after a quick taxi from the quirky bus station, it was only 7.40am.
Although I couldn’t check in, I stripped down to my Runderwear in the lobby and changed into my smelly, dirty running gear from two days prior. Shortly after 8am I ventured into the dusty world of Belize City. Within 10 minutes my vest was dripping wet, my eyes stinging from the copious sun cream dripping down my face. The vest came off, the bottles of water added up, and I was well on my way to about 4 miles. Today was tough; I wasn’t hating it, though. There were plenty of new sights and smells to take in.
Mostly the fresh smell of tarmac and concrete being put down onto a new, overly long and straight stretch of road. I got the impression this project had been going on for a long time. At mile 10 I turned back, not wanting to get myself too far out of the city. I twisted and turned my way around the bright, white, dusty roads and then found another highway to finish my last out-and-back effort. The last few miles were hotter, more humid, and I was tired. I was yawning almost every step. I perhaps needed more sleep, but was pleased to ‘tick off’ Belize so I could enjoy the sights tomorrow… or the back of my eyelids. I got through about 8 litres of water. Alas, my urine was still fluorescent.
My thoughts on Belize are really positive, despite the tough run. But a note of caution. If you’re coming to Belize for a nice break, don’t stay in the Ramada Belize City Princess Hotel. It has walls and a bed, but the luxuries stop there.
Tomorrow I rest.
Day 39 – Belize, rest and explore
Today was a good day, although no matter how much sleep I have, I seem to wake up with the feeling that another 24 hours in bed would be the minimum requirement for my legs not to crumble underneath me. I dragged myself out of bed and went on a little boat over to the beautiful island of Caye Caulker. Dozens of pelicans, golf carts for taxis and coconuts on tap. Did some exploring, and found a little food shack for a bite to eat. The vanilla ice cream was amazing. I chatted to a few locals and managed to find a quiet spot to nap. I leave tomorrow for El Salvador – something that was once a daunting prospect, due to safety, is now pretty exciting. Thanks to the authorities, Embassy, Institute of Sport and some locals I think it’ll be memorable. We will see.
I want to say a big thank you to three of my sponsors today: Juice Plus,for providing me with great fruit and veg tablets. These include about 20 different types of fruit and vegetable ground up into two tablets – I take these every day. On top of this I have actual healthy snacks, thanks to Pulsin. These guys know how to make both healthy and tasty. Plus a big thanks to Lloyd’s Banking Groupfor providing some of the funding for the initial flights. We are 39 days in, but have a long way to go.
Doing some number crunching recently you’ll not be surprised to know we are still in need of some funding. I’m conscious not to detract from fundraising efforts for Prostate Cancer UK, because that is the whole reason this trip is happening and if you have met me… you will know I’m super passionate about hitting my £250,000 target… but, at the same time, I really need a few companies or individuals to support me, even in a small way. Get in touch if you can help. It goes without saying I’m spending every penny I have.
Finally, one big thank you to those who have donated. I was reflecting today on what a good start we’ve made. Already over £11,000 in the pot to help stop men dying from prostate cancer… If we are to hit £250,000 by July 2019 I need your help. Even if it’s just sharing it on Facebook or Twitter with friends and family.
Day 40 – Belize to El Salvador
Having left the hotel in Belize at 2pm, this was followed by a long wait at the airport, and then I was off to El Salvador. The Avianca flight didn’t take too long, but I could feel my body, mind and legs were tired. All this #runningwas catching up on me. I was grumpy before I had even left the hotel,and then a taxi driver tried to rip me off before I even got into the taxi. Don’t worry, I put him in my place like any good Englishman would. Rather than swearing and being rude about the US$40 fare (which should have cost about US$20), I simply declined in such a way that was far too polite, which left me feeling frustrated with myself. Note to self: don’t be so polite when people try to rip me off (unless I’m in a dangerous situation, in which case I’ll revert to my Hugh Grant mannerisms).
Anyway, touch down. I was met by two lovely ladies from the hotel VIP lounge and greeted by Bernhard from the British Embassy. Once again, another great chap with fantastic stories, all of which you can hear on my podcast soon or check out the videos soon to be uploaded to Vimeo.
I hit the pillow in the far plusher (possibly/definitely not a word) hotel in San Salvador. I was knackered. It felt like 5 minutes later when my 5am alarm went off to chuck my running gear on and head for Marathon 18 in just 41 days. Man, I was tired.
Day 41 – El Salvador, Marathon 18
400 kids, 40 runners, police, Embassy, Tourism Board, Minister of Tourism, water sponsors, medals, trophies, media, and the most friendly and kind people. Oh what a difference a day makes! I woke up tired and sluggish, but intrigued to see what had been arranged. My team back home, along with Bernhard from the Embassy, had explained briefly what was going to happen. Lots of bits and pieces, but I’d learnt not to get my hopes up. Oh how wrong I was. Today was special. El Salvador and everyone I met today far exceeded my expectations.
My PA Carla and Bernhard from the British Embassy had made contact just two weeks ago and explained about my visit. Two weeks later, and I am speechless.
This morning started with a bunch of about 50 folk from the police, Red Cross, runners, electrolyte brands and more meeting me at the start line. Yes, a proper start line. Bernhard had contacted the Minister of Tourism and it had snowballed from there. They really did pull out all the stops today. I was blown away by their kindness. 40 of us ran the course, an out-and-back route.
I was met by 400 screaming school kids at miles 8 and 16ish, all the time being followed by media, a police escort and water companies to keep me and everyone else topped up. We had water stations, photo ops, food – the works.
The highlight, however, was being met at the finish by loads more screaming kids, and then being presented with an awesome trophy, hand-made by a local, famous artist.
Medals for everyone, followed by some media. I have been seriously spoilt. Thank you doesn’t quite cut it. I owe a lot to this place. Amazing people, fantastic chats, and I was even taught a little Spanish on route. My vocabulary has now doubled to eight words. Impressive, eh?
So lastly, thank you to everyone who has helped to make today a great day. I even had an opportunity to promote Prostate Cancer UKand its work on TV and radio after the race.
Kev, as you know, you’re the whole reason this is happening. But wow, you were in my thoughts a lot today. You would have loved it.
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Day 42– El Salvador to Guatemala
I was treated last night after the marathon to the premier of the film ‘The Darkest Hour’. A great film, and nice to do something fairly normal, although I was substantially under-dressed for a red carpet event. Trainers, travel pants and a creased (unwashed) top. Classy. I went to bed far later than usual. I tend to go to bed at about 8pm, earlier if I can, so a midnight bedtime was probably a bad move. I was up this morning at 5am for an early interview with a national radio show before flying to country 19, Guatemala.
We had some time for questions from the Salvadorian public and once again, I was shocked at the level of their kindness and support. With the help of a translator the show was great fun. My Spanish is improving, but very much not out of basics. I now know about 10 words or phrases, so I have more than quadrupled my vocabulary. Embarrassing really. I was presented with gifts, and big hugs, before spending a few hours with the ambassador for a quick interview. Then I was off to the airport.
I arrived at a lovely hotel in Antigua about an hour out of the busy Guatemala City. Silvana, a supporter through Instagram, arranged a pick-up and transfer. I’m now lying knackered in yet another beautiful place.
Thank you, a million times thank you, to Bernhard and all who helped make El Salvador special.
Other news, I’m getting a cold. Maybe I’m ‘running’ my body into the ground. I’m in good spirits and certainly on a high from El Salvador, but my body is running on empty. Going to sleep now. Marathon 19 in a few hours.
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
Social Media: http://www.runningtheworld196.com| Twitter @nickbutterrun | Instagram@nickbutterrun
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