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Day 233 – Great Dorset Steam Fair, UK, and it’s my birthday!

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It’s my birthday – presents please! If anyone wants to give my JustGiving page a boost, I’d really appreciate some birthday donations. Just Google ‘Nick Butter JustGiving’ and please donate anything you can. I really want to reach my target of £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK.

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For the last 28 years I’ve spent every 26th of August either on the beach or at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. I love it. Family, friends, and as it’s the height of summer and a Bank Holiday, it usually rains. Today didn’t disappoint.

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My brilliant mum and dad have been slogging away raising funds for Prostate Cancer by holding various raffles and shaking some buckets at the 50th Anniversary of the completely nuts Dorset Fair. Growing up in the country, I’m naturally a country boy at heart. Give me mud under my fingernails, wet feet in welly boots, a pint of cider and a local folk band singing anything badly, and I’m happy. Although I’m still teetotal and have been for a while now, I still managed to find some very strong apple juice. By ‘strong’ I mean apple juice with added bits of grass and dirt.

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It rained heavily. I squelched around the fair from tractor to tractor and beer tent to beer tent with my uncle, cousin, friends and family.

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I collected my few parcels of Pulsin bars, GoPro kit and bits and pieces like extra socks, and made my way back to my parents’ house in a small, sleepy village. Wellies off, dog dried and the fire lit, we sat around the living room and scoffed down a tasty Chinese takeaway. This is another birthday ritual.

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My mum’s cuppa tea, some chats about logistics and finances, and before we knew it, my birthday was over. It’s now 1 in the morning. Behind me is a huge 8 by 5 feet map of the world with little stickers for every country completed so far. I’m going to sleep well. What a year it’s been.

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A big thank you to everyone who has got me here – from my brilliant family and friends to everyone who believes in me and has supported the trip in various ways.

Here’s to the next year. I’ll be spending my 30th birthday completing a marathon in country 140.

Day 234 – Emirates Air Line Royal Docks Terminal, UK, rest day

Today was spent primarily on the Tube or head down catching up on admin. I did get to see my good friend Gen, though. Gen, it was awesome to see you.

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Later in the day I sat down with my dad to go through the next phase of the trip and properly get my head around the quick turnaround of marathons and countries. Europe is to be visited mostly by train. I have my great friend Dani with me who will be filming for the documentary. So lots of spreadsheets and pointing at the laptop screen, looking confused.

I had a few moments on the Tube today when I just smiled and appreciated what I was doing.

Slicked-back hair, bamboo-framed glasses and clunky black thinkpad laptops. Oh, and don’t forget the over-the-top tie pin. Coming from such extreme poverty and disadvantaged communities in Africa it was almost laughable and sad to be back in a land of idiots punching in numbers, forgetting how fortunate they are. I was one of those idiots once, so I feel I can say with some certainty that most of this train carriage will have no idea how lucky they are.

Picture this: laptop out, glasses on, brightly coloured socks, waistcoat, standard pin-striped shirt and a Bluetooth phone device stuck to his ear – this wonderfully cringe-worthy guy was speaking loudly about his upcoming car purchase of a second-hand Mercedes. On the Tube it’s impossible to talk because it’s underground, but the DLR gives full access to these rather obnoxious conversations. Every now and then this man looks up and around to see if anyone is enjoying his conversation.

I washed some clothes, collected my new phone screen, had a shave and a shower and went to bed. I need an early night. It’s 9pm and I’m about to sleep. Night.

Day 235 – British Library, UK

Last day to relax, working in the British Library and looking ahead to Phase 5.

Please, please, please, get involved and help. I have another 36 marathons to run this year. I have some catching up to do with other countries, but overall it’s been great. Here’s what the rest of the year looks like:

30 Aug SPAIN, Barcelona

1 or 2 Sept ANDORRA, Andorra

3 Sept FRANCE, Nice

6 Sept MONACO, Monte Carlo

7 Sept ITALY, Rome

9 Sept VATICAN CITY, Vatican City

12 Sept SAN MARINO, San Marino

13 Sept GERMANY, Berlin

18 Sept CZECH REPUBLIC, Prague

20 Sept AUSTRIA, Vienna

22 Sept SLOVAKIA, Bratislava

24 Sept HUNGARY, Budapest

30 Sept ICELAND, Reykjavik

4 Oct USA, Chicago

9 Oct USA, San Francisco

16 Oct IRELAND, Dublin

19 Oct CROATIA, Zagreb

22 Oct ROMANIA, Bucharest

25 Oct NETHERLANDS, Amsterdam

28 Oct BELGIUM, Brussels

31 Oct USA, New York

11 Nov SWITZERLAND, Buchs

14 Nov LIECHTENSTEIN, Vaduz

15 Nov LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg

17 Nov DENMARK, Copenhagen

20 Nov NORWAY, Oslo

23 Nov SWEDEN, Stockholm

26 Nov FINLAND, Helsinki

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29 Nov RUSSIA, St Petersburg

2 Dec ESTONIA, Tallinn

5 Dec LATVIA, Riga

8 Dec LITHUANIA, Vilnius

11 Dec BELARUS, Minsk

14 Dec UKRAINE, Kiev

17 Dec MOLDOVA, Chișinău

20 Dec POLAND, Warsaw

If you can join me in any of these countries, please let me know. To support please donate, or simply share this with anyone and everyone you know. Please tag.

Day 236 – Bristol, UK, one night at home

With over 200 items travelling with me for the next three months, I spent several hours, and far too long, sorting everything I needed and stripping things out. My geeky side loves all the gear; I just don’t have the muscles to carry all of it.

I have two bags I’ll be travelling with, both Farpoint 40 @ospreypacks @ospreyeurope legends! These bags are the bomb (my bags contain no bombs). A big thanks to Osprey for supplying me with virtually anything I need. My previous bag has retired due to over-use, RIP.

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Today was my first night’s sleep back in my own bed, only the eighth night this year.

It has been a day for packing, charging and prepping for tomorrow. I leave with Dani, my good friend and cameraman. He will join me throughout Europe and help capture everything we get up to. Europe will be very different from the rest of the journey so far – not only is it closer to home, but it’s also the first and only stretch of my journey that I’ll be travelling almost entirely on the Interrail route. For the next 30 days I’ll be travelling on trains, with only one flight. Woohoo – a whole different set-up.

I’ve spent the last hour sorting out everything to put on charge before the next leg:

Sky Roam Wi-Fi worldwide

GoPro

SPOT Gen satellite messenger

Power pack

Laptop power pack

Headphones

11 GoPro batteries

5 Camera batteries

Suunto watch

Drone remote

2 drone batteries

Sat phone

Dictaphone

JBL speaker

iPhone one

iPhone two

iPad

I have over 200 items of clothing, gadgets, shoes, essentials and various things to cram into my two bags. I hope I’ll be asleep soon. Tomorrow is travel day.

Day 237 – UK to Barcelona, Spain

Phase 5 of 13 begins! Europe, here I come! I’m now lying in a gorgeous house, high in the mountains around Barcelona. Today has been full and exhausting, and I have five hours until I run Marathon 67 of the expedition. Spain, please be nice to me – I’m a little fragile, I have a cold, and my body is saying ‘no’.

Today started early with more frantic logistics conversations and then doing all the things I always forget to do, like cutting my toe nails (not glamorous, but very necessary when you’re a runner).

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Packing complete, Dani arrived, and we made it to the airport for the usual lounge nibbles and pre-phase excitement. Don’t get me wrong; these next few months are going to be hard, really hard, but I always look forward to new places.

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It’s great to have my good mate and honorary cameraman with me to take care of the filming. It’s one less thing I need to do, but it’s also so nice to travel with someone. It means I can bounce ideas off him and generally no longer just rely on my own brain, which doesn’t always make the right choices.

Europe for me feels homely and safe, and we have so many great people putting us up and helping along the way. Today was even better than expected.

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Arriving into Barcelona at 6pm Dani and I were met by a lovely lady called Rowena. We drove the 30 minutes from the airport to her stunning home in the mountains. The view was jaw dropping. We quickly changed and went down the road to a lovely restaurant. Mauri, the maître d’ and a big-time runner, not only served us some of the tastiest food I’ve ever eaten, but is also accompanying me tomorrow on the next 26.2 miles around the hills of Barcelona.

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It’s now 12.25am and I have the duvet pulled up to my chin, the light of the city in the distance, and my eyes are heavy. I run at 6am.

Thank you to Carla and Chrissy for organising Ro to help me. Ro has been even more kind and has now offered to drive us to the next two countries. Amazing. Spain tomorrow, Andorra in two days’ time, and then Nice two days after that.

Shout out to Sophie and Gerrard – I’m checking in with you soon!

Day 238 – Marathon 67 of 196, Barcelona, Spain, Woohoo, here we go again

Lightning hit the house and we all jumped. Dark, gloomy and sleepy-eyed, we counted the claps of thunder as they got closer.

Europe has hit me hard today. Uh oh, here we go! The rain in Spain falls mainly… in bloody Spain.

Today’s run featured very heavy rain and four lots of nice long winding hills – 8km up, 8km down, 8km up, 8km down, and then a few km around the city, finishing up at the famous Gaudi work of art, the Sagrada Família.

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I’ve run in the freezing temperatures of Toronto in winter, the hills of the Caribbean islands, the blazing heat of the Sahara, the high altitude of South America and the chaotic roads of Western Africa…

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…and now I’ve run in a thunderstorm in Spain.

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Today was hard because I’d had a little rest in London for a few days. My legs were springy, though, and with my mood not dampened I donned my rain jacket at just past 7am and was eager to get going, though the huge electrical storm with rain drops the size of my head put me off a little.

Dani gave me a look of ‘Are you really running in this?’ and I gave him a look of ‘Guess so…’ Ro then drove us down the road to meet Mauri and his son Pau. Pau is 16 and spent the entire morning cycling with us in the rain to supply us with food and water.

Ro and Dani held fort in the car while they leap-frogged us up and down two stretches of 8km hills… Photos, videos, water, and most of all, patience. Thanks both – you are brilliant.

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I’m now just about to hit the hay early! I’m knackered and I have a 7am alarm ready for our drive to country 68, Andorra. And something tells me there’s going to be more hills…

Please keep donating via JustGiving. Prostate Cancer UK really needs your help to save men’s lives.

Day 239 – Barcelona, Spain to Andorra

Travel day! The glorious mountains of the Pyrenees welcomed us into the tiny principality of Andorra.

In the comfort and luxury of Ro’s kitchen we made fluffy scrambled eggs on seeded toast. With a piping hot cuppa tea we sleepily munched our food down overlooking the early morning haze of Barcelona.

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Bags packed, sleep wiped away and a quick shower, we said goodbye to our palace in the sky and meandered down the mountain, and began our three-hour drive to country number 68, Andorra.

Podcasts in the car, a stop for classic European service station snacks and before we knew it we had arrived in the tiny duty free haven of Andorra. Somehow we didn’t even need to show our passports at the border. Ro, thanks again for driving.

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My next brilliant person to thank is Angel. Angel has been following on Instagram and online since my journey began; he’s a great runner, his father has cancer, and he’s generally a lovable chap. Angel has organised everything from food, accommodation, a running route and press.

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We checked into our rooms at the Centric Atiram Hotel. Dani downed our bottle of complimentary champagne and had a bath. Later we went down for a press conference and then headed out to a tasty lunch at a local Japanese noodle bar. After a little wander around the city we unpacked our bags before heading to Angel’s house for a delicious home-cooked dinner.

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Thanks to Mariajose, Angel’s wife, for the scrummy pasta and brilliant conversation, not to mention the brownies, which I’m still craving now.

 

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It’s now 11pm and I’m just getting into bed. The alarm sounds in six hours ready for Marathon 68 in the hills of Andorra.

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Nick Butter

British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer

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

Social Media: http://www.runningtheworld196.com | Twitter @nickbutterrun | Instagram@nickbutterrun

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