More fantastic people this week, hosting, organising, feeding, running and generally supporting me. I ran with a great team of people in Guatemala, had my first family host stay in the Honduras, followed by a super-chilled run, learnt some more Spanish in Nicaragua, and survived the traffic in Costa Rica – I’m loving it.
Day 43 – Guatemala, Marathon 19
The kindness and enthusiasm of the human species knows no bounds. Along with my extreme tiredness I feel quite emotional tonight. It’s about 11.30pm as I’m writing this, the evening after my 19th marathon in just 43 days in 19 different countries. Today is in three parts.
ONE: A 4am start to visit the factory of Ecofiltro. Before leaving for this trip I wanted to ensure that the carbon footprint of all my flights, transfers, hotels, food, that everything was completely offset. A very long story short, and I did it. With the help of Natural Capital PartnersI have sponsored four projects around the world to offset all 45 tonnes of carbon equivalent.
My first project was here, in the mountains of Guatemala. Ecofiltro provides ingenious water filtration systems and economical stoves to improve health and save around 70% of fuel costs. PLEASE check out the upcoming podcast – you can hear from the main man himself, Philip Wilson, who is one hell of a guy. I’ll let you do the Googling – search for Ecofiltro Guatemala. Over 300,000 people positively impacted by a simple method.
TWO: After returning from the early morning visit to the factory I was greeted by Fernando at the hotel. Fernando is a friend of Juan. Juan was one of the runners I ran with in El Salvador just two days ago. Juan sent a few messages and boom, Fernando turns up bright and early with water and food, ready to take me on an amazing route. He did just that.
The saying ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is spot on. We were leaving a little later than expected when we were joined by five more runners, including three Brits. A running group of nine in total, we all bonded. Abi and James, the Brits, were supporting Nick (great name), who is heading up the Impact Marathon Serieshere in Guatemala – marathons that make an impact. Aptly named, I thought. These folk I will be seeing again. Lovely people, the same values and attitude. Awesome.
THREE: Dinner. Philip kindly hosted all nine runners at his house. His house, like his hosting, was spot on.
Day 44 – Guatemala to Honduras
Another plane day. Today I leave #Guatemalaand move on to my 20th country where I will surpass the 500-mile mark. My journey has already flown me over 11,000 air miles. Remember that all 100% carbon will be offset thanks to @ecofiltro and Natural Capital Partners. Google them.
Thanks to George and Dilcia for opening up their home to me today, my first host family of the trip. They have three great kids and a beautiful home. George picked me up from the airport, Dilcia cooked wonderful chicken pasta, and I played some table tennis with the kids. They beat me. Tomorrow we run.
Making new friends every few days is very special. You know how dating sites match people based on their likes and dislikes (or that’s the idea), well, I feel like through the magic of the world I have been matched with the best, most kind-hearted and similarly-valued people on the planet. In reality I think I’m starting to realise the world is even more special and precious than I could have ever imagined. Perhaps the world has so much good in it that there’s simply too much to see. I feel like I’m getting a little closer, though. Like other countries I’ve visited so far, I can really see good relationships blossoming, whether it’s through charity, music, sport, business or social change projects. Once again, it’s sad to leave such a lovely bunch of people. Thank you to everyone for making Guatemala special.
Something I haven’t yet announced to the world in detail is that I have a couple of charities I’m beginning to grow. They need global reach and there’s much work to be done. If you would like to get involved and learn more about these upcoming projects, please comment below. If there’s someone you think would be interested in some global and social change projects, please tag them too.
Day 45 – Honduras, Marathon 20
Hit my first 1,000,000 steps running today. Whoop! Today was such a great run. Last night’s dinner with the family and today’s run was so chilled. I really needed a little break. Their home was peaceful and quiet, even with three kids. Magic.
We ran as a tight pack of four. Big thank you to Veronica, Dilcia and George for organising a car to follow with water, snacks and coconut water – quickly becoming my fave drink of all time. And fresh stuff too! Because we had a car as support we could run through the mountains on long, straight, and fairly flat roads. We ran past so many friendly people working hard on their watermelon farms, sugar cane fields and so much more. We chatted to some locals, felt completely safe and ran gently and really relaxed.
A great chilled run. We saw mud bricks being made by a family business ready for sale, vultures swooping above, and many huge sugar cane trucks, which were more like trains than trucks. The sweet smell of the cane hit us every time a truck passed.
We had a great run, but it was over so quickly. Not fast, but the time flew by. We finished with some snacks from the car – fruit, energy beans (really), coconut water – and chatted on the 20 minutes’ journey home. Quick stop for some fast food, which turned out to be quite slow, and then home for a shower. Dilcia did some washing for me, made great food, and I watched a film with the kids before bed. It was so nice to be in a home. CALL TO ACTION! If you have contacts who can host me, please tag or comment below. Thank you.
A special thank you to Veronica and Dilcia for teaching me Spanish on the run. I have actually learnt quite a lot now. Don’t test me though.
Thanks to George and Dilcia and their lovely family. An honour to spend time with you.
Day 46 – Honduras to Nicaragua
Another airport, another goodbye, and another hello. I’m counting the amount of times the immigration officer looks up over their glasses to me with raised eyebrows, as if to say, ‘Who on earth spends only two days in a country that is thousands of miles from home?’ The questions in perfect Spanish are fired at me, I then reply in my perfect Spanish. Which is very close to fluent English!
It was so peaceful to stay in a home, a home that was nothing like a hotel. And I mean that in a really great way. With a bedroom, that is, an actual bedroom, a lived-in room. Thank you guys.
If anyone has family or friends who may be able to host me, I’d be very grateful. Please tag or leave a comment.
I was met from the airport by Carlos and Maria. There is no mistaking they are father and daughter. Huge friendly smiles. These two have effectively sponsored my whole Nicaragua stay. They not only collected me from the airport, but also sorted my hotel, my food, an interview with the country’s biggest TV station, took me to see the only lake in the world with fresh water sharks, and organised the entire marathon, complete with publicity, runners and aid station – all thanks to their family business 10K Running Centre.
Apparently there are only about 100 people in the whole country who have ever run a marathon. Running long distance just hasn’t hit Nicaragua yet. I was excited to sleep and wake early for the 4.45am start to see what was to come. Let’s see what Nicaragua has to offer. Come on runners, let’s go.
Day 47 – Nicaragua, Marathon 21
Up and out. Wiping the sleep from my eyes and grumpily tapping my phone in an effort to snooze the alarm. Shuffle to the bathroom, sit on the toilet while brushing teeth, eyes still half-closed, splash water on face, turn on the light and gear myself up for another 26.2 miles of unknown roads. What was today going to bring me?
Still very dark and humid, but with a breeze, I met a small group of runners just around the corner from the hotel. The start line featured a Hammer Nutritionaid station with water, bananas, oranges and some electrolyte drink. It was about 200 metres from the hotel door. Perfect.
Carlos and Maria had arranged about 15 runners. And they all turned up! Thanks, guys. The course was to be 14 laps, 200 feet of up per lap. We ran past trees full of screaming birds, an incredible sound – the tree was more bird than tree. It was hot, about 31°C even by 8am, but I didn’t feel it. I felt great, legs were managing the quickest miles all trip. Heart rate only in the low 100s. Am I getting into my rhythm after 500 miles?
I ran with Santos, a local coach in his 60s, and the only person to run every lap with me. Each time we completed the 1.9 miles and returned to the aid station we topped up on water, and off we went. Different runners joining me for different laps. I really really enjoyed the long, gentle downhills, being able to open the legs and feel the breeze in my hair (now getting scruffily long).
Marathon done, loads of photos and attempts to learn more Spanish, Carlos and Maria took me for steak. This steak was bigger than my arm, and was so tender. Incredible. We then queued for several hours in Managua traffic to reach the site of a volcano. The 4-hour round trip was well worth it.
Gazing into the earth’s core from the spout of an active volcano is pretty damn cool (or very hot), watching the larva swirl and groan, as plumes of smoke periodically puff like a dragon sighing.
Today was once again full, happy, and full of smiles.
Day 48 – Nicaragua to Costa Rica
Bye bye fresh water sharks and bubbling volcanoes. On to country number 22, for Marathon 22. Today was a good day because I had time to catch up on expedition admin and rest. Although I really don’t feel like it sometimes, it’s been good to back up photos, speak to the team at home, get some washing done, have a little more sleep, stretch, and get my head around the coming weeks. Most of the time I have no idea where I’ll be in the next few days. Although it’s all very carefully planned, I can’t keep up, so it’s nice to flick through the calendar.
Carols and Maria picked me up from the hotel for a mid-afternoon flight. I practised some more of Spanish, and off we went. The news from today, though, made me smile a lot. Unbeknown to me, while I was napping and catching up on admin, Carlos was hatching a plan. He announced to me with a big grin on his face that, with help from many of his contacts and myself, he was going to start a drop-in prostate cancer clinic in their city – the first and likely only one in the country. Designed to support those who can’t afford the conventional routes, the idea is to utilise their business networks, along with my will to make this happen, and produce a free service where men can get tested. This is such a great idea and will no doubt save lives and, importantly, get people talking about prostate cancer. Thank you Carlos. I’ll be able to update you all in the fullness of time.
What can you do in your community? Even if it’s a small step, saving men from dying from prostate cancer is about getting tested early and spreading awareness. So the simple answer is to talk to everyone about it, even if you feel a little uncomfortable doing so.
I arrived in Costa Rica in the evening and transferred to the hotel. I had slept on the plane, in the taxi, and then as soon as my head hit the pillow. Thanks to the Marriott for putting me up again – a beautiful hotel, pool and view of the mountains.
Day 49 – Costa Rica, Marathon 22
San Jose would be my host city for my 22nd marathon. Not the beautiful coast, and by far not the prettiest of routes, but a warm, breezy day. I use maps.mefor my routes. If you haven’t come across it, it’s an offline map app. I just download each country ahead of time, so when I get lost I can check the app and find my way home. Getting lost is something that happens often when I run on my own. I hardly know what day it is, or which country I’m in, so it’s no surprise. Today was no exception.
I was recommended to run around the city centre, La Sabana – basically a big park, with playgrounds, restaurants, green fields and some little lakes. Due to the busy highways the route that took me to the Sabana loop wasn’t easy, though. The roads were too busy and there are even signs banning runners from attempting to run where it was unsafe; 12 miles later, I had risked death by crossing over some roads I really shouldn’t have been on, balancing precariously on central reservations, and darting across when I had a chance. Stupid, stupid thing to do.
La Sabana was a 2.01 mile loop, so I only needed 7 laps. This flew by, a quick stop for ice cream, a few photos in the city stadium, and about 5 litres of water later, I was done. Legs felt fresh, mind was chilled, and I was even singing along to randomly made-up lyrics with a grin on my face. No idea how people don’t like running. It’s so free (though not when you’re cramping, bloated, lost or stuck in the centre of a busy six-lane highway). A dip in the pool when I got back, chicken Caesar salad, more water, and early to sleep. I had 12 hours in bed. Bliss.
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | AdventurerContact Details: 07754328355 | firstname.lastname@example.org| www.nickbutter.comSocial Media: www.runningtheworld196.com| Twitter @nickbutterrun | Instagram@nickbutterrunSign up to the Virtual Challenge: https://etchrock.com/challenge/buy-ticket/running-the-world-196 Donate:www.gofundme.com/runningtheworld JustGiving:www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runningtheworld