gasq2979

Day 247 – Vatican City, Italy, finally, a rest day

I couldn’t run in Vatican City today due to the Pope speaking in the square, so my time is tomorrow.

img_5875

Which meant today was a day of admin, emails, interviews and sleep. Every now and then I should do some work, I suppose.

img_5876

For those of you who don’t know, there are numerous bits and pieces going on behind the scenes. Not only is my fab team propping up all the logistics and generally keeping me sane, but I also have some other irons in the fire: the book, the closing event and The 196 Foundation.

The book: I am writing a book about this world record, the prep, the build-up, the highs, the lows – you name it. I am really enjoying writing it, but I’ve been a bit slack… I managed to put hand to keyboard and bash out a few more words today. It’s so great to write in chunks, but I’m always writing about six months behind. With the help of an old-school Dictaphone and my notes app on my phone, I have all the details I need, not to mention photos.

The closing event: You may or may not know but in March 2020 I am opening the doors to everyone to attend a knees-up event to celebrate the success of the trip. I just hope I get there – fingers crossed. Where there’s a will, there’s a way… It will be a sit-down dinner, followed by an auction, a preview of the documentary, my book will be on sale (we hope), and there’ll be loads of music. Oh, and obviously a talk from me – all the juicy bits not shared online.

The 196 Foundation: Very close to launching. Thanks to all of you who have expressed an interest in supporting it. Please tag and share as far and as wide as you can. The Foundation will act as a legacy for this journey and I hope that in years to come it will thrive. I need your help. The concept is simple. Donate £1.96 a month or £24 a year and you will help one big project around the world each year. You vote on who we help: it could be an organisation or even just a small group or community that needs help. A small donation, lots of like-minded people, and big change – want to help?

img_5995

Another full and more productive day, but no running. Vatican City tomorrow.

img_5984

Day 248 – Vatican City, Marathon 72

img_5947

Nearly arrested and two new friends in the form of two lush nuns. What a day…

Vatican City is the smallest official country in the world. There was virtually no knowing if I’d be allowed to run, where I’d run, or if the tourists or police would make it impossible for me.

6am alarm: Dani and I went prepared for anything. Most of the Vatican can only be visited through proper entrance fees and bag drops through security scanners etc… And these were all places I was guaranteed not to be able to run.

A few people have run a marathon around the perimeter of Vatican City on the outside of the wall, but this is technically not in the country. The Guinness World Record guidelines are strict, so today was a make or break marathon.

My route was to be 80ish laps of St Peter’s Square. This is tourist central, and even 30 minutes in, more and more people had swarmed in.

5 miles and 15 laps in and I was starting to believe that the police wouldn’t be a problem. 8 miles in, I was wrong. Two police called me over, and very politely asked what I was doing. They promptly informed me that I must have permission to run. They said that if I continued to run they had the authority to detain me for up to 12 hours. I was starting to feel all was lost – 8 wasted miles.

img_5177 1

After a conversation with a nice chap called Daniel (a police officer who spoke good English), things still weren’t looking promising. Dani was told not to film, and we agreed the only way forward was for me to walk the entire marathon. I was worried this wouldn’t count for the official record, and frankly I didn’t like the prospect of walking 18 miles in circles, in 30°C heat.

The permissions we needed we did not have – the Vatican must approve everything in a specific and unique way. After some further conversation and showing the police the website and explaining the cause… finally Daniel agreed that he (the Italian police, acting on behalf of the Vatican) would overrule the usual protocol and let me run. The conditions: I had to be careful of people, not throw rubbish, and not film. This was a result, to say the least.

img_5913

60 more laps later and I was done – Vatican City completed.

img_e5900

Day 249 – Rome, Italy, Rest and reward

Looking ahead, relief after Vatican City, and some well-earned sleep.

However much planning or effort you put in, sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t. I do find, though, that the more effort you put in, the more ‘luck’ you seem to get. I had to really persevere yesterday. Facing the possibility of not being able to compete my 72nd marathon due to the police and unauthorised access issues, it was ultimately down to some polite conversation in English. The wonders of language, eh.

A few thank you’s to all those who helped in Italy and the Vatican. First of all, to the police, and especially to Daniel. A big shout out to Quido at Hearth Hotel for organising free accommodation and generally being a great bloke, to both brilliant receptionists, to Sarah for some encouragement on the side lines, along with my new nun friends, and all those who applauded as I repeatedly ran past them.

Dani and I rewarded our efforts with a great meal hosted by a lovely Italian family over the road from the hotel! The photo below features the overly extrovert and quintessentially Italian chef. Thank you. Obviously we all know by now that Dani is taking advantage of his time in Europe and drinking anything he comes across.

img_6052

img_6050

Let’s talk about donations. We need more, basically! Please. If I’m to reach my £250,000 target by the end of 2019, I need your help. Just text NRTW89 £10 to 70070 to donate.

Tomorrow we travel from Rome to Bologna and then on to Rimini, our seventh and eighth train trip in Europe. The easiest way to reach San Marino, one of the smallest countries in the world, is by bus, so tomorrow night we stay in Rimini and just bus in to San Marino for the day.

Day 250 – Rome to Rimini, Italy, Travel day

Stupidly long hair! I’m sooo tempted to get rid of it.

img_4293

Another four hours on a train, a sleepy seaside town and on top of everything, I lost a bet to Dani. Never trust a drunk! (Dani would like everyone to know that he is not a drunk, but that’s what all drunks say, right?)

img_e6025

Today we made the four-hour journey to Rimini from Rome, which was the easiest option to run marathon 73 in San Marino tomorrow.

The plan tomorrow morning is to get up early and grab an 8am bus through the mountains to the small, hilly country of San Marino, the fifth smallest country in the world, and I’ve heard it’s beyond hilly. I have tired legs, so it’s going to be a tough one.

We arrived about five hours ago, and it’s not what I was expecting – no disrespect to Rimini, but it’s basically the same as many coastal resorts – a bit run-down, pretty empty, and full of arcade stands and drab-looking hotels.

Once again, though, thanks to my team and the hospitality of the Hotel Estate for putting us up. Small, quaint and super-friendly staff. We certainly lucked out.

img_6108

I lost a bet to Dani playing table tennis – the first to three games won, and I didn’t even make it to one. I paid for dinner, and blamed the loss on the wind.

We made friends with some locals, had a few drinks in a huge outdoor bar on the beach and listened to some quirky but chilled music. Time for bed.

img_6102

Needless to say I will sleep like a baby tonight, though I’m a little apprehensive for tomorrow. Fingers crossed it’s not too hilly for my tired body – I’m still full of cold. Right, I’m all showered, some stretching done, belly full, and now it’s time for sleep. Ahhh, sleep.

img_e6145 1

Anyone running Berlin soon?

Day 251 – Marathon 73, San Marino

Wow, today was pretty cool! I’ve never travelled to a country, run a marathon and left, all within six hours. Back in time for lunch, basically.

img_6147

What an amazing place! Approaching San Marino from the east coast of Italy, this place looked like the set from Game of Thrones, with castles high in the sky, mist lingering in the valley, and an amazing climb through the winding roads to reach the top.

img_6213

I was lacking sugar and energy today and still not feeling like my legs would turn over, but after a little pep talk I was ready. I packed a bag with all my running essentials, changed at the top of the city and spent the first 6 miles running down. And I mean, seriously down. Imagine tight hairpin bends with vertical drops one side and the other a large, never-ending wall of rocks. I could hear the air brakes of the buses all the way down.

img_6189

Once again I found myself checking the map constantly to make sure I wasn’t leaving the country by accident. I turned around at the 10km point and began the climb back up and around the mountainous landscape – busy roads, lush green fields full of crops, and all to the backdrop of three beautiful castles at the top of the city.

img_6229

img_e6231

After a mile of climbing, my heart was beating hard, but my legs felt surprisingly fine. To my amazement, the few hours running flew by, and I ran up and down 2.5 times. I even made friends with the bus drivers ferrying people to and from the city. They had noticed my repeated attempts climbing up and down the hill.

Dani was waiting for me in a cafe after taking in the sights. We filmed some bits for the documentary and then headed back to the bus. I was sweaty, lacking water and knackered, but once again, another marathon done.

img_6110

It’s now 8pm and I’ve scoffed down a pizza and emptied the mini bar of all non-booze items, and now I’m ready to sleep. What a day – a beautiful country, lovely people and lots of hills. Perfect for a testing run before Berlin marathon in two days’ time.

Day 252 – Italy to Austria to Germany

New friends, brilliant chats, many trains, currywurst, and lots of time scratching my head wondering if I’m in the right place.

This morning we left Rimini on our ninth train of the month to Berlin, and 14 hours and 15 minutes later, we arrived… and then bumbled around Berlin train station trying to find the exit. Sleepy brains. Here’s how our day had gone:

04:30 – Alarm

05:00 – Pack bag

05:30 – Breakfast

05:45 – Wait for taxi

06:00 – Realise taxi isn’t coming

06:15 – Call for new taxi

06:30 – Arrive at train station

06:45 – Realise we left GoPro in taxi

06:46 – Panic

07:00 – Call taxi company

07:05 – Taxi returns with GoPro

07:06 – Run for train

07:10 – Train leaves for Bologna

08:00 – Sleep

08:10 – Funny photos of Dani sleeping

08:14 – Arrive in Bologna

08:15 – Find platform for next train

img_6263

img_6287

08:40 – Drink hot chocolate

08:45 – Board train to Bolzano

09:00 – Edit footage for video update

11:17 – Arrive in Bolzano

img_6346img_6353

11:30 – Lunch in nearby McDonalds

12:00 – Nap on platform with nice view

bpal1111

12:15 – Push-ups on platform (weird looks)

12:34 – Board train to Munich

13:00 – Fall asleep

14:00 – Remain completely asleep

16:00 – Meet Johanna, a train friend

img_6368

16:25 – Arrive in Munich

17:00 – Currywurst with Johanna

img_6373

img_6372

17:45 – Go for a wee

17:54 – Board final train to Berlin

18:00 – Very busy train, standing

18:45 – Chat to Johanna

20:00 – Still chatting

21:00 – Still chatting, very sleepy

21:30 – Meet new bunch of friends

22:29 – Arrive in Berlin

23:00 – Still not escaped huge station

23:15 – Taxi to hotel

23:45 – Arrive at hotel

24:00 – Get into bed

00:15 – Need more food

01:00 – Finally sleep

So that’s that. Thanks to Johanna and everyone we met on the various trains. It’s quite a day when you go through three countries, sleep in multiple places without meaning to, and generally not really know where you are. Finally in bed and ready to turn off the light. Tomorrow I pick up my bib for the official Berlin Marathon.

Day 253 – Berlin, Germany, Bib collection

img_6428

Any running expo is fascinating. Here’s my top 10 of ‘What to expect at a running expo’. There’s always:

  1. Oversized blow-up objects not related to running (beer, cars, footballs).
  2. Poorly organised everything, especially queues.
  3. A huge selection of different nationalities, shapes and sizes. Fab!
  4. A whole array of different personalities (you know what I’m talking about – the boasters, the newbies etc).
  5. Strange people who wear their running kit to the expo (no offence, but come on guys, why do you do that?).
  6. Everyone wearing fluorescent clothing.
  7. Over-complicated one-way systems.
  8. About 20% of the toilet facilities required for the clean sanitary use of thousands of people.
  9. Everyone queuing for things they wouldn’t usually want, let alone queue for.
  10. And obviously the most important thing – everyone must leave the expo with lots of flyers for races they have no intention of attending.

img_6434

I had a lie-in today. After yesterday’s long journey and going to bed without really washing or brushing my teeth, I treated myself to some body admin – a long shower, some decent breakfast, a double mouth wash and teeth brush combo, and then a stroll to the official Berlin Marathon expo. Woohoo…

It’s so nice to be in a city full of runners. The bling of runner drips off them like sparkly gold. Some try to disguise their natural runner look, and some simply don’t bother. I love it – whether it’s people wearing causal outfits with obviously new trainers, or the oversized running watches latched on to small runners’ arms.

img_e6494

The running community is great. Walking around the expo for a few hours I collected my bib, perused the stands full of more gear and gadgets I most definitely don’t need, and walked away with a big Berlin poster, lots of safety pins (for Dani), and several selfies of people who recognised me and wanted to chat about the trip. So nice! Thanks guys.

img_6472

I’m really grateful for the support from everyone online and in person. Please keep sharing the journey; it’s going to get tougher. Tomorrow is Marathon 74, Germany! Another major. Woohoo!

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

Sign 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

Promotional Video: https://vimeo.com/228583946