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Day 149 – Ghana to the UK, pit stop, with great accommodation provided by @staymerino

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My flight wasn’t until 11.55pm so more food, a great live spoken word poetry thing in the hotel and another lazy start. I really needed it.

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Ugh, the joys of TAP Air Portugal! I wouldn’t usually name and shame as a matter of habit, but these guys annoyed me to boiling point. Their lack of common sense is all I will say. Deep breath, and let it go. FYI, a five-hour flight with no leg room plus a nice hard bash to the knee from the dinner lady trolley thing also increased my levels of grumpiness. A simple case of overtired irritation.

It’s now just after midnight and I’m on the plane to my first stop to Lisbon before flying on to London. Time to get my head down.

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I want to say a big thank you to Merino Hospitality. With help from my great PA Carla, they have given me a place to stay while in London seeing sponsors etc. I can’t wait to get into that bed. Chancery Lane, food in the fridge, around the corner from my meetings in Fleet Street and super-friendly staff who run these five short-term let apartments. Thank you. Aren’t I lucky! I need a rest. The next few days are busy.

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Day 150 – Overnight flight complete, landing in the UK

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Back to the UK to pick up yet another passport. A few people have asked me about the need for more than one passport. Let me try and explain:

  1. There are simply not enough pages in one passport to cover all the stamps. Even with a 49-page passport I am visiting 196 countries. With two stamps for each country, one in and one out, that’s a lot of stamps. Plus don’t forget that visas take up a page, and I need 90 of them.
  2. This brings me to the second point and the need for more than one passport at the same time. Although this is all legal, it’s complete nuts. With 90 visas (every possible visa in the world, for a Brit) they often only last for a period of up to three months. This means that the visa company that is supporting the trip, Universal Visas, uses one passport to collect all the visas for the next phase while I use the other passport for the countries I’m visiting. We then swap when I’ve run out. Universal Visas and specially Maz manage this for me, but it’s quite some juggling act. They do a great job.
  3. Lastly, there are sometimes restrictions for political reasons. If I have a stamp from one country that doesn’t like the other, I have to be careful to have the correct passport…

Other than the visas, I get to check up on my health, pick up new supplies like trainers (@prodirectrunning) and vitamins from @juiceplus_uk and nutrition from @pulsinandbeond

It’s nice to be back, and while I really wish I could press on, it is lovely to see all those who support and care about me. Thanks everyone.

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Day 151 – UK, day of meetings

What a day – full of back-to-back meetings with sponsors, supporters, publishers, the bank and my agent. I haven’t even had time to see my family yet.

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First stop was to see Prostate Cancer UK, my official partner in this expedition. With your help we hope to reach the £250,000 target to help stop men dying. Angela, the CEO, Mike, Ellie, Seren, Phillip and I discussed the latest research, news about upcoming events, and more ways in which to share the journey with a bigger audience. If you have any ideas, let me know.

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The next stop was Universal Visas and my bank. This was a rushed affair. Meeting at the home of the biometric centre for passports, I had my fingerprints and photo done for Nigeria in a few weeks, I provided bank statements for the application and then swapped back to passport no 1 from passport no 2, as explained yesterday.

I then had lunch with Duncan from @hydraquip who is financially supporting the cause, and is one of the nicest guys I’ve met for a long time. We spoke about running and future plans over a nice salmon and new potatoes pub grub. Ahhh, being home. Later I also caught up with the team at @rehband (based in Sweden) who provide my compression and injury prevention gear. Thanks guys for the catch-up.

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After lunch I caught up with Henry and Stan. We discussed everything to do with the book. Very exciting. I just need to hurry up and get some typing done. I’m a little busy though. It was seriously great to chat about plans for the tour of the book and dates for speaking gigs. If you’re interested to hear me speak or interested in the book, please send me an email or comment.

After an earlier catch-up with Sam from @weareredmonkey, my personal agent, I finished the day with a medical check-up. I’m waiting for the results. I’ve lost too much weight and I’m tired, but I hope all is well. It is possible I have some form of tropical disease, but fingers crossed the results say otherwise.

So now I’m on a train back to Bristol before wading through 4,000 emails. Blooming love this life though.

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Day 152 – UK, passport swap and doctors

Going home for the scheduled passport swap is supposed to be a built-in rest time. I’m learning that that’s never going to happen. I vowed I’d have some extra sleep in my own bed, and so far I’ve not even got back to my own city. It was very bizarre landing in London yesterday and repeating what I do in every other country: grab my bag, get through immigration and then hunt for my accommodation. I had a large welcome party of exactly zero people to meet me off the plane. This was planned, so don’t feel sorry for me. Lots of meetings for two days and then rest, that’s the plan. Family and friends catch-up comes when I finish the expedition.

It was another whirlwind day of meetings today, although with more of a health focus. I met with Nomad Travel Clinic for a top-up of drugs and malaria meds for keeping me as well as possible. I’ve decided to swap my Malarone for Doxycycline so I benefit from the antibiotic properties too – as I’m being battered by bugs, I thought this was a good idea.

The doctor also gave me the all-clear on various fronts, including the fact that I don’t have malaria, but a nasty African-related bug instead. I also have some form of mouth infection, which is being sorted. I really feel like I need a nice long sleep. I guess I’ll do that when I’m dead.

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Taking the decision to live my life full and outrageously busy is an active choice, and so this isn’t a complaint at all. It’s a good thing. I love being busy and tired. Even so, a nice nap is certainly on the cards tomorrow.

I’m also considering getting my silly long hair cut – should I cut it or keep growing it? The suffer-fest of long hot hair. Tomorrow we battle with passports and visas. Fingers crossed everything is done in time.

Day 153 – UK, the almighty admin day. PLEASE EMAIL IF…

You know when you’re in the zone tidying up or getting loads of jobs done really efficiently? Well, I don’t! Well, I didn’t. For months since I’ve left I’ve been on the back foot with managing all sorts of trip admin and also life admin, for that matter. Be it getting through emails, backing up photos, responding to lovely messages, checking in with my brilliant team, or just managing to send a postcard to the many people I have to thank and am grateful for. Today I made a good dent in the ‘to do’ list. I feel like I now only have 99% left to do.

The best thing about an admin day is reading all the lovely messages, and feeling some progress. I’m the kind of person who loves to be on top of all my jobs, but my life just isn’t geared to ever achieve this. I kind of like it, though; I’m a fan of endurance challenges after all. This is just a life-long one.

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Please email me or comment if you want to have anything to do with the following:

  1. Want to run with me sometime between now and when I finish.
  2. Would like a copy of the book or photography journal.
  3. Want to watch the documentary (when I finally finish).
  4. Have sponsored me already.

Everyone who has helped or even just sent a kind word will be listed in my final round of the trip in about 500 days’ time. I am so grateful for the support; it’s like I have a big family supporting me every step of the way.

So although I dream of the days I can rest and not have loads of jobs to do, let’s face it, it’s not going to happen any time soon.

Day 154 – UK, visa nightmares, packing, and bye bye home for another three months

What an impressive mess of visa complications and mishaps! We always knew it wasn’t going to be easy to run a marathon in every country in the world in under two years, but actually just juggling multiple passports, securing 90 visas and ultimately relying on airlines to not screw things up is blooming impossible. Not to mention dogs having a munch on my leg.

As you may have already read, the reason I have to return to the UK every once in a while is because I have to collect visas and passports. I’ll get through about six in total, maybe more.

While I’m away @universalvisas is sorting out the next phase of documents and passports I’ll need for the upcoming countries. We have split the trip into 13 phases for exactly this reason. Run, run, run, then pop home, pick up a new passport with visas in and run, run, run again. Simple, right! Ha. Hell no. #UniversalVisas do a brilliant job, but it’s obviously not easy and things happen.

Today I got the news that Angola and now Chad’s visas have either been refused or will take too long to organise. As of right now we are still waiting to hear if Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea have been issued. It’s all a matter of timing and silly things like an Embassy staff member clocking off on a Friday 10 minutes early that could make all the difference. It’s actually really interesting and I’m learning a lot. I’ll have more news on these as the days role by.

I missed Mali and Niger because I was bitten by a dog, and so these are being wedged into the calendar later (expensive, but not the end of the world); Chad and Angola, I may have to simply wait at the airport. Who knows – I’ll find out soon enough.

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Oh crap, it’s 11.15pm, the night before I leave for a 6.45am flight. I think it’s time to pack … ahhh, mad rush time! See ya.

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Day 155 – UK to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

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Phase 4 of the expedition begins with the second leg of Africa:

Phase 1: North America and the Caribbean: done

Phase 2: Central America and South America: done

Phase 3: Africa phase 1/3 (North West): nearly done

Phase 4: Africa phase 2/3 (West and Southern and South East): begun

Let me break this day down. Today was full to say the least. Just another travel day:

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12am – Sleep

1am – Sleep

2am – Sleep

3am – Leave home for airport

4am – Drive to Heathrow

5am – Still driving

6am – Arrive at Heathrow

7am – Queue and check in

8am – Breakfast

9am – Flight to Instanbul ✈

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10am – Try to sleep

11am – Decide to watch film

12pm – Fall asleep

1pm – Arrive in Istanbul

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2pm – Lunch in lounge

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3pm – Admin and final emails

4pm – Research countries

5pm – Sleep in rest zone

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6pm – Sleep in rest zone

7pm – Flight to Burkina Faso ✈

8pm – Take off late and sleep

9pm – Dinner service, yuk

10pm – Sleep

11pm – Sleep

12am – Midnight food service

1am – Arrive in Ouagadougou

2am – Get to hotel and write this

3am – Sleep

4am – Wake up to a power cut

5am – Sleep

6am – Get up and run…

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Nick Butter

British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer

Contact Details: 07754328355 | nick@nickbutter.co.uk| http://www.nickbutter.com

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