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Day 219 – Mauritius, sun’s out, surf’s up, shades are on

Q&A day…

Today meant catching up on some much-needed blog posts, and answering some emails from you lot. If you’ve not read my blog posts, I’ve been writing a blog about my running life for about six years now, highs and lows etc… If you’re interested, go to http://www.nickbutter.com and click the ‘Blog’ button.

Tomorrow I leave this glorious island of Mauritius and fly west to another glorious island, Madagascar. It’s times like this that all the difficult countries, all the days without food, without a shower, getting lost, sleeping at borders in a taxi, getting mugged… it’s times like this that I feel as if the good days are balancing out the bad days. And I know I’m incredibly lucky.

I’ve had hundreds of questions sent in via email, or DM etc… Do you have a question?

Here’s a few:

Q: What’s your favourite running snack?

A: Pulsin bars… I always carry a Pulsin bar with me – vegan, and tasty. To be honest, though, most of my snacking happens after I run. I don’t usually need anything running – my head is enjoying the route, the place I’m seeing and I don’t need energy… but from time to time, when I’m really exhausted… I eat Pulsin bars on planes and when I wake up. They sponsor me, but that’s not the reason I’m mentioning them – they are genuinely really good!

Q: How did you organise all of this?

A: With a lot of help. I now have a team of 19 people supporting. Carla, my PA, manages my diary along with virtually everything else on a day-to-day basis. Chrissy manages all of my accommodation… and does so with ease. Emily manages all my social media and interviews etc. Also blooming brilliant… and then you have the visas, flights and travel, which is a collective effort with my mum and dad and Universal Visas. I need a total of 90 visas and I’ve already been on 120 flights. So they have a tough time. The list goes on… I have my nutritionist, performance manager, psychologist, kit logistics, my agent… I’m very VERY lucky to have such brilliant people making all of this possible.

More Q&As in a few days… Do you have a question?

Day 220 – Mauritius to Madagascar

Waves, surf, kites, beach, sun and sand – country number 64 will be remembered. Thanks @bodytribevoice for sponsoring.

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Arriving in Madagascar today, though, it’s a reminder of the many not so luxurious destinations I have still to run in – which was surprising, because I was expecting something completely different.

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A few of the remaining countries that are on my list as ‘possible problem countries’ are:

Central African Republic

Syria

Yemen

Afghanistan

Iraq

Sudan

South Sudan

Libya

Somalia

Democratic Republic of Congo

As you can imagine, these are not going to be full of beaches, sun, sand and surfing. That’s what this trip is all about, though… and being out of my comfort zone gives me a buzz.

One man every 45 minutes will die in the UK because of prostate cancer. The reason I’ve spent my life savings, will be away from home for two years and am putting myself in harm’s way is to raise money to help stop men dying from #ProstateCancer. Please support and donate if you can.

I have the great days like Mauritius, I will have the tough days like the countries listed above… but at least I have days. Some men all over the world get their life cut short, just like my friend Kev. We all have one life… Do what you love, be good, help others, and completely treasure every single day! Life is short and insignificant in the grand scheme of time and space, but for us little humans we can decide how we live it. IF YOU ARE A MAN AND OVER 40, GO AND GET YOUR PROSTATE CHECKED! It may save your life.

Today went a bit like this:

Get to airport early, scoff food in lounge, get on plane ✈, make video, land in Madagascar, after long traffic delay check into hotel, then check out of hotel ‘cos it was the wrong one, taxi for two hours in more traffic, check into second hotel, have one of the best meals of my life, apply anti-mosquito spray to my entire body, set up mosquito net around bed, jump in, sleep!

Day 221 – Antananarivo, Madagascar, Marathon 65 of 196

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A mixture of poverty, happiness, dust, smiles and busy roads, Madagascar was not what I was expecting, but wow, what a fab run.

I finished today’s marathon with brick dust in my eyes, covered head to toe in dirt. My lungs were full of exhaust fumes and smog from the wood-burning fires that line the streets. Imagine running through bonfire smoke all day dodging countless trucks, lorries, cars and motorbikes while avoiding rubbish and chickens at your feet.

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The faces of the kids in my photos make me smile, and show just how friendly these people are. It was impossible to run fast – the potholes, traffic, cobbles and fumes… but I also just wanted to stop and take photos and chat all day. I took over 500 photos. Thank you to everyone I spoke to today. Us Westerners are lucky beyond belief. This is in contrast to my next marathon destination tomorrow, the Seychelles.

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Don’t count the days – make the days count! This trip is all about adventure, and living life to the max… dream big, work hard, get out of your comfort zone and life will smile with you. This is why I’ve now spent my life savings and sold everything I own to make the trip happen. You may also know I’ve set up a charity called The 196 Foundation and created a super high-quality adventure magazine called WonderFULL Magazine.

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I hope that both of these little ventures will inspire others, act as a legacy for the expedition, and give support to thousands of people all over the world. With your help we can make a huge difference.

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The 196 Foundation: Our mission is to provide aid in various forms to groups, individuals and charities in every country in the world. Watch this space! £1.96 per month will help one specific project around the globe per year. Little donations, lots of people, big change!

WonderFULL Magazine: Wonderful people doing wonderful things. Our first issue is nearly ready. Everything adventure. It will be available in January 2019: www.wonderFULLmagazine.com

Please get involved.

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Day 222 – Antananarivo, Madagascar, lemur day

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Today I saw six different species of lemur, three different types of huge bamboo and the nest of a Hammerkop bird, which was about the size of a small car.

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I only had two days in Madagascar so I was out early this morning to go and see as much as I could. On yesterday’s run I saw so many sights and smells I wasn’t expecting, so today was about ticking off the classic Madagascar I-spy list.

Just a few miles out of the city I found a brilliant guide to teach me about the island, which, of course, led on to a hunt for lemurs.

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There are 115 different types of lemur on this island, yet I still felt spoilt seeing six different species up close. The ring-tailed are the classic lemur featured in the film ‘Madagascar’, but the others were actually more fun. The dancing sifakas were great to watch – they play just like monkeys, and strangely never drink; the only fluids they get are found in leaves. Although these are all incredibly similar animals, they all act and appear so different:

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Coquerel’s sifaka

Crowned sifaka

Black-and-white ruffed

Mongoose

Grey mambo

Ring-tailed

Along with the animals, I walked through thousands of bamboo shoots… I felt like a tiny human walking through the trees of giants. Many of these species of bamboo are only found in Madagascar. The ones I can remember are Japanese, Dendrocalamus and Vietnamese.

I also ventured through the forest along the riverbank, passing the famous baobab trees and the traveller’s palms, named for their helpfulness to travellers due to their ability to store huge amounts of clean water in their trunks.

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High in the canopy we saw two stupidly large nests of the Hammerkop bird. Their nests are surrounded by twigs and leaves from every angle, so no predators can see them.

On the way back we passed a big radiated tortoise. These are my spirit animal, for sure. Slow and steady wins the race.

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After a long traffic jam on the way back, I picked up a few little souvenirs at the market and then jumped into bed.

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Day 223 – Madagascar to Seychelles, via Kenya, Nairobi

I love this photo – I’ve been trying to get a snap of my bag as it goes through the security scanners… CAN YOU SPOT ANYTHING? If you can name five, you win a pat on the back!

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The journey to my last African country, the Seychelles, signifies the end of phase 4 of the trip. Only another nine phases and 130 marathons to go… Once I run here tomorrow I’ll then make my way back to the UK to pick up a new bag, new gear and my fourth passport of the trip. In this next phase I’ll move through Europe for a month with my friend and cameraman Dani. He’ll be filming the first 30 days of Europe before I move on to the Middle East and eventually back to Africa for the last time.

Today went like this:

Step 1: Alarm set for midnight.

Step 2: Shower and jump into a taxi at 12.45am.

Step 3: Get to the airport and go through the usual ‘laptops out, shoes off’ dance with security.

Step 4: Walk about a million miles round and round in circles to find the lounge. Why are airports designed so badly?

Step 5: Walk from the lounge in the middle of nowhere to board my 135th flight to Kenya, Nairobi.

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Step 6: Free seating on the plane – I was told I could sit anywhere; apparently that doesn’t mean first class. I was moved back to the exit row. I’ve come to learn that the worst seats on the plane are the exit rows… you can’t recline them at all.

Step 7: Don’t sleep or sit comfortably for three hours.

Step 8: Arrive in Kenya, Nairobi and wait for five hours. Surprisingly tasty satay chicken in the lounge.

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Step 9: Board my 136th flight to the Seychelles.

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Step 10: Try to sleep for four hours. Actually sleep for one.

Step 11: Land in the Seychelles.

Step 12: 40-minute taxi across the island to the hotel.

Step 13: Check in and spend an hour faffing with the wrong room.

Step 14: Finally sit on the beach with a curry and watch the sun go down.

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Step 15: The best step of all… sleep time!

I have four days of white sandy beaches, forests, mountains, over-priced food and, of course, the best bit, my 66th marathon.

Day 224 – Seychelles, Pre-race day

The day I became friends with the bathroom.

I’ve always tried to be sensible with what I eat or drink on the trip, as it’s too easy to pick up a bug and feel crappy for the next marathon. On top of the travel and running, being sick sucks. Today I was careful not to stray too far from the bathroom. I must have eaten something my body wasn’t too happy with.

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Coming from Madagascar, where there is supposedly a plague, I was initially a little worried. Tonight I’m going to bed and I’m not sure how tomorrow will fare.

 

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Thanks to the brilliant work of my team and the help of the British Embassy, I have an organised run tomorrow – the Minister of Sport and the locals here have gathered some people for me to run with. I’ll have a couple of support cars, water on tap, new friends no doubt, and a route all worked out for me. I love it when a plan comes together.

I just hope my stomach sorts itself out. I won’t go into much more detail, but you get the idea – toilet, get into bed, toilet, repeat.

I did manage to have a pizza on the beach and some water: this was my last-ditch attempt at testing my body to see if it would still reject food or not. Running on empty tomorrow without being ill wouldn’t be very enjoyable, so I figured trying some food was the best option I had.

As I close my eyes with my alarm set for 4.30am, and a 5am start, I’m a little worried I’ll have to let people down. This is another reason why it’s hard to organise too many big events much into the future. Fingers crossed for the morning. I hope I sleep.

Day 225 – Glacis, Seychelles, Marathon 66

Hills, heat, beaches, media, new friends and my last marathon in Africa for several months.

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So today I was greeted at 6am in Reception. A bunch of about 10 of us met up for a few minutes before walking around the corner to the starting line. It was warm, the sun only just peeping its head over the horizon. Dawn is such a peaceful time to run, especially when the ocean is making its soothing sounds.

Today I ran with three very different people, and all equally great to chat with. Running really does bring people together from different walks of life.

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Caron takes the crown as being the first British diplomat to run with me. I’ve run with a few, but never for more than a few hundred metres. A big thanks to Caron and her team for organising everything today. And Caron, you said you’d run 10km, but you actually ran 10 miles. Brilliant effort, and great to learn more about the islands as we ran.

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I ran most of the distance with Geno and Ana. Geno is 22 and a Seychelles athlete, with a PB of 03:01, having only run three marathons, all of which have been hilly. Ana is 36, a running coach, and is heavily involved with the Olympic committee and the sporting authorities here on the main island of Mahé. She’s also a very good athlete in her own right too. It was so enjoyable to chat about anything and everything as we ran through the winding roads of the island.

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Beautiful beaches with strong crashing waves was our road map. Keep the sea on our left and we couldn’t go wrong. We eventually reached the capital city of Victoria and then doubled back.

The sun got hotter and hotter as the day went on. Not even lunchtime, and we finished back where we started. I did a couple of interviews and then headed over to the High Commissioner’s residence.

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I met a few of the Seychelles swim team. These guys are far better athletes than me. Impressive training plans, and really lovely people. Thanks to Dean, Therese and their coach for dropping me back at the hotel.

Once again I’m blessed with meeting a bunch of amazing people. Massive thank you to Caron.

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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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