Day 205 – Botswana, Looking ahead

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UPCOMING COUNTRIES!

The rest of my year looks like this. Get involved – come and jog some miles with me. I blooming love running! But this is intense. When I get to December 2018, I’ll be halfway through. Here’s what’s coming up:

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SPAIN Barcelona 30 Aug 2018

ANDORRA Andorra 2 Sept 2018

FRANCE Nice 3 Sept 2018

MONACO Monte Carlo 6 Sept 2018

ITALY Rome 7 Sept 2018

VATICAN CITY Vatican City 9 Sept 2018

SAN MARINO San Marino 12 Sept 2018

GERMANY Berlin 13 Sept 2018

CZECH REPUBLIC Prague 18 Sept 2018

AUSTRIA Vienna 20 Sept 2018

SLOVAKIA Bratislava 22 Sept 2018

HUNGARY Budapest 24 Sept 2018

(UK 26 Sept 2018)

ICELAND Reykjavik 30 Sept 2018

USA Chicago 4 Oct 2018

USA San Francisco 9 Oct 2018

IRELAND Dublin 16 Oct 2018

CROATIA Zagreb 19 Oct 2018

ROMANIA Bucharest 22 Oct 2018

NETHERLANDS Amsterdam 25 Oct 2018

BELGIUM Brussels 28 Oct 2018

USA New York 31 Oct 2018

(UK 5-10 Nov 2018)

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SWITZERLAND Buchs 11 Nov 2018

LIECHTENSTEIN Vaduz 14 Nov 2018

LUXEMBOURG Luxembourg 15 Nov 2018

DENMARK Copenhagen 17 Nov 2018

NORWAY Oslo 20 Nov 2018

SWEDEN Stockholm 23 Nov 2018

FINLAND Helsinki 26 Nov 2018

RUSSIA St Petersburg 29 Nov 2018

ESTONIA Tallinn 2 Dec 2018

LATVIA Riga 5 Dec 2018

LITHUANIA Vilnius 8 Dec 2018

BELARUS Minsk 11 Dec 2018

UKRAINE Kiev 14 Dec 2018

MOLDOVA Chișinău 17 Dec 2018

POLAND Warsaw 20 Dec 2018

(UK 23 Dec 2018-1 Jan 2019)

Come help me raise a load of awareness and cash for Prostate Cancer UK! In case you’ve missed the story, I’m running a marathon in every country in the world in support for my mate who sadly has terminal prostate cancer. He was given as little as two years to live. Kev, this is for you man! In the process I’ll hopefully set and break a number of world records, and build a community of super-friendly runners around the world.

Day 206 – Gaborone, Botswana, back to South Africa (layover)

Getting on my 115th flight of the year plus my sexy bum bag.

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You can’t go anywhere around here without flying in and out of Johannesburg, so it’s a night kipping here.

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The BUM BAG!! No traveller can cope without one; well, I can’t anyway. I hate things in my pockets; when it’s hot and you’re sitting with bulky pockets, it’s so uncomfortable (especially when the people sitting either side of you don’t understand the concept of personal space). Likewise when it’s cold, you have to go through multiple layers to get to anything – stupid pockets.

Despite the obvious bulk now dangling from my stomach area, thus giving me the look of a rather large belly, it is now an essential item of this trip – and I have no shame wearing it. In fact, I wear it bursting with pride. Think Alan and his man bag in The Hangover.

These are the wonders I hold in my Mary Poppins’ pouch.

Phone 1 – My life phone (iPhone7 Plus) holds my life data. Phone numbers, 50,000+ photos as well as my calendar, so I know where I am (or where I should be).

Phone 2 – My trip phone, bought especially for photos and videos while running. No data, no numbers; just a map, audio books and my photo library.

iPad – I primarily use this for editing photos and videos, plus watching the occasional Netflix documentary. I also use an app called ExpressVPN. If you travel a lot, this can change your life; it enables you to use things like WhatsApp and other social media in places like China that have restricted access. @vpnexpressofficiel

Skyroam – Wi-Fi, this little orange box gives me unlimited Wi-Fi at a really decent speed in at least 120 countries. @myskyroam

Money – Changing counties every few days results in surplus and unusable currency. I often attempt to pay in the wrong currency by mistake.

Passports – I travel with 2 passports and have to return to the UK to get new ones. I’ll get through eight by the time I finish. I’m on number 4 now.

The remaining items will be listed tomorrow! Can you guess what they are?

Day 207 – South Africa to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

 

So after my short and uncomfortable stopover in Joburg last night, I left early today and jumped on a very bumpy plane to meet up with my friend and client, Susan. A fellow runner, I’ve coached Susan for a while. She has also lived here in Zim for several years. She not only made the trip but also very kindly arranged sponsorship, and a lovely hotel. Special thanks to ZTE for supporting.

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Today was a very full-on day. I am now falling asleep watching the monkeys and baboons play on the balcony with the sound of the crashing water of Victoria Falls in the distance. The alarm is set for 5am for an early marathon.

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Here’s part 2 of 3 of my bum bag contents: did you guess right?

Hand sanitiser – This is a must and certainly in my top 10 items. I can go weeks without having clean hands – gross, but true… but on a big trip, you don’t wanna get sick. My good friend Jeff who recently summited Everest gave me the best advice… if you’re sick, you can’t complete your goal! So I do all I can to not get a silly germ.

Tissues – Snotty noses aren’t ideal when you’re running.

Pen – Probably one of my best items. Everyone needs a pen to enter a county, to fill out those stupid, pointless forms. You can also lend it to others and make friends… or lose it forever.

American Express – Another must-have travel item. Credit cards not only allow me to pay for things I can’t afford and get me out of sticky situations, but I can also get access to the lounges in various airports – free food and showers please.

Yellow fever card – Something you don’t need, but that you will end up paying a fortune for if you don’t have.

Earphones – Kinda self-explanatory. I could use them to ignore people, which I hardly do, as I’m too chatty.

Emergency cash – Shhhh – Dollars, Euros and now virtually useless British Pounds for bribes, emergency situations and to give me a sense of reassurance, probably in vain.

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Day 208 – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Marathon 62

He fell over! It turns out that even after running nearly 35,000 miles in my life, and 62 marathons on this trip alone, I still haven’t entirely managed the art of putting one foot in front of the other. What an idiot I was. Mile 2, I went and tripped over a tiny bump in the road. Bruised all over and sore, but just scratches really. We (Susan and I) bandaged me up, and I continued with my bleeding limbs for another 24 miles.

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Susan and I had such a great run with support from Emmanuel our driver. We stopped off in a local shop, filled the car with water and snacks, and headed into the heat of the day. We spent 99% of our run jogging through the National Park alongside Victoria Falls, with the roar of the water falling over the edge of the Falls, the mist overhead, and animals in the bushes. We ran just feet away from elephants, monkeys, impala, kudu and warthogs, plus the famous Victoria Falls – such a treat. It was the elephants that distracted me from running and so I went flat on my face. Fortunately my Ninja reflexes kicked in and I didn’t hurt my knees or my face; I just bashed my hip and right shoulder. No sympathy, please. I was on a flat road. My Ninja skills clearly need to improve.

Susan did a great job running her second ever marathon, and did so making it look super-easy. I’m a proud coach. In reality I’ve been a crap coach recently because I’ve been away, but she’s kept up the training.

We rewarded ourselves with a great meal and met up with some of her friends afterwards. We ate dinner overlooking a gorgeous sunset with hundreds of water buffalo drinking at a watering hole. A brill day!

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Tomorrow I find out if I have the guts to do a bungee jump. I plan to enjoy the rest of the day at the Falls, hopefully taking some great pics.

Day 209 – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia

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I’m now sitting up in bed absolutely knackered from the past couple of days. It’s only 9pm here but my eyes are shutting.

This morning started with an early explore around Victoria Falls. The sun was out, the birds were making their noises and the Falls were a peaceful tune to the day. A double rainbow arched over the gorge with the mist flying high. This is the tallest waterfall in the world. The water crashing down and then up again results in a very rainy spectators’ spot on the cliff edge. I was soaked.

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After staring wide-eyed at the amazing waterfall we headed to the bridge. This is where idiots chuck themselves off with some elastic around their ankles (no offence, Susan). The Zambezi river is at some points sandwiched between the Zambia and Zimbabwe borders. We crossed the border from Zim to Zam in about 20 minutes. Walking on foot and forgetting I needed my passport, I managed to talk my way through border control and over the bridge. I was now in Zambia with my passport and all my belongings in Zimbabwe.

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The next little pit stop of the day started with a loud and startling shout of ‘Get down, get down on the floor!’ Alarming to say the least, especially on a bridge, in Zambia, without a passport. It turned out that a swarm of ‘killer bees’ was hurtling our way. As we all know, if bees swarm, they are trying to find somewhere to land. And if they happen to decide that you are their landing spot, it’s not going to be a great day.

I then chickened out of the bungee jump. My thought process was that I have so many things I want to do, let’s not die now and get eaten by crocodiles. Besides, I was terrified just walking over the bridge. Not a fan of heights. Maybe one day…

I’ve not long returned from a brilliant evening having dinner along the Zambezi, wide, fast-flowing and with hippos and crocs lining the banks. The sun fell below the horizon, the animals packed their trunks and disappeared into the trees. Tomorrow I fly!

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Day 210 – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Embracing fear

HELICOPTER – BUNGEE – LIONS…

Some days on this expedition I have been utterly terrified, really knackered, sore, grumpy and lacking food… some days, though, I’ve been smiling from ear to ear. Today was one of these days. A special thanks once again to ZTE and Susan for sponsoring.

Phase 1: Helicopter

After an early alarm, shower and breakfast I made my way to the helipad about 5 miles down the road. The view above one of the seven natural wonders of the world was… well, wonderful. The land just stops like someone’s taken a knife and chopped a clean line through the landscape. Placing the sound-cancelling headphones over my ears I watched from my little bubble in the sky in silence. I wish I could have hovered there all day. Thanks to Jane for sorting this.

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Phase 2: Bungee

Once I’d come down from my literal high, I was then in an excited yet terrified mood to go and jump off a bridge, obviously with a hefty piece of elastic attached. What most of you may not know is that despite being a pretty good skier and an average climber, I’m really terrified of heights. Walking over a bridge just a few feet from the floor or climbing a ladder, I’m stupidly scared. I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to. (Nothing wrong with a Robbie Williams quote.) In the interest of leading by example and embodying the ‘spend as much time as possible out of my comfort zone attitude’, I decided to give it a go. The view from hanging upside down under the bridge that separates Zambia from Zimbabwe was amazing.

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Phase 3: Lion

The adrenaline eventually subsided and I was making my way to one of my last possibilities of seeing a lion up close. After some snacks and a safety briefing, a small group of us went into the bush. Accompanied with a man with a gun and a few sticks, we went looking for lions. More photos of lions in tomorrow’s post. So great to see young cubs playing up close.

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Tomorrow, country 63, Swaziland.

Day 211 – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, back to South Africa (Johannesburg pit stop, again)

Airport ✈ – bum bag – admin – and new travel pants.

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What’s your favourite airport in the world?

Travelling all the time means lots of airports, and with that in mind, if you have any favourites that I‘ll be passing through, let me know. I feel like airports are my home at the moment. Despite some being totally rubbish, disorganised, poorly managed and dirty, others are a haven for food, aircon and Wi-Fi.

You can’t go anywhere around here without flying into Johannesburg airport. The flight times also mean it often results in a stopover.

I’m quite a fan of the airport, which is handy considering this was the fifth time I had been there in just a few weeks. The airport is strange in one way, though; all the bins are far too high. It’s like someone’s given the construction workers a plan but forgotten to mention that they need be accessible by everyone. Currently, children, anyone using a wheelchair and short people don’t stand a chance. I call them the ‘giraffe bins’.

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Today I said goodbye to Susan and made my way to Swaziland, which has one of my favourite flags.

I sorted out some washing, bought a new snazzy little day bag and managed to finally upload some back-up data to the cloud. Not a day filled with crazy activities but as always on this trip, these days feel great. It’s rest and a time to mentally and literally file things away and prepare for the next stop.

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Here’s the last few items I carry with me in my awesome bum bag.

Dictaphone – Don’t judge me, but this little device is perfect for recording things I see, hear, smell and all the stupid stuff people do, including me. The book won’t write itself – and this is a great and easy diary method – all USB nowadays too.

Various airline club cards – I’ve already got enough reward points to fly around the world twice…

Lip balm – Nobody likes chapped lips.

ID card – This is an out-of-date ID card but acts as emergency info for anyone if I decide to keel over.

Nick Butter

British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer

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

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