Day 325 – Stockholm, Sweden to Helsinki, Finland
Touching down in frozen Finland, we landed with two hard thuds. The flight was bumpy throughout for some reason, but I always fall asleep better when it’s a bit turbulent, like a baby being rocked to sleep. Looking out of the window it had recently snowed and the captain announced it was –11°C… the luggage carts were icy, the handlers were wrapped up warm. We all gathered our gear and off I went, into the last of my Scandinavian countries. Hello Finland.
Every now and then we make changes to the trip… Basically the whole of the rest of this year is supposed to be Interrail or ferries. Today I was due to get a train and then a boat to Helsinki. Happily for me, the team changed this to a flight – I was not feeling up to 14 hours’ travelling with my stomach still not happy. I’m improving, though.
I landed in Helsinki without hassle – and credit to the airport staff, for the first time in a long time, I had no problems with anything. That moment, when you’re not sure if the check-in lady is gonna charge you for your extra weight in your bag or not… I breathed a sigh of relief when she didn’t. Yay… thanks, kind person.
And so now I’ve just checked into a gorgeous little new apartment owned by Hostel Diana Park. A bedroom, a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom, spacious too. Really nice to have some space for the next couple of days.
I’ve been here before, to Helsinki I mean, and so for tomorrow’s run I’ll be on my own and on familiar ground. I haven’t had much time lately to let running be the ‘cleanse and therapy’ it usually is for me. Be it being sick or having lots of people to chat to, tomorrow I hope I can chill, let my stomach finally settle down and enjoy a chilled run in the city. I might even try and find the island forest. Time to eat – I’ve lost about 4kg in the last three days. Not ideal, and I didn’t have it to lose.
Please keep donating people. Can’t do this without you. Text ‘NRTW89 £5’ to 70070. Your money goes into the JustGiving pot and will end up with Prostate Cancer UK.
Day 326 – Helsinki, Finland, Marathon 91
Only 9 marathons until I reach 100 this year! My dream is slowly becoming a reality – taking my all-time marathon total to 437…
It seems like a lifetime ago that I set out from Gatwick on the 6th January 2018 to begin this official Guinness World Record attempt. Thank you all for the support and kind words so far.
I’m scared of next year, if I’m honest – I’ve done the fun, easy-ish places, and have some terrifying places still to come.
After today I travel to:
29 Nov RUSSIA St Petersburg
2 Dec ESTONIA Tallinn
5 Dec LATVIA Riga
8 Dec LITHUANIA Vilnius
11 Dec BELARUS Minsk
13 Dec UKRAINE Kiev
15 Dec MOLDOVA Chisinau
17 Dec ROMANIA Bucharest
20 Dec POLAND Warsaw
Today’s run was cold, and my legs and body were ready to stop. This food poisoning thing has really knocked me for six. I feel great after finishing, and it reminds me what the struggles will be like next year. Tough, and then tougher still.
I have spent my life savings and two years planning this trip, and am embarking on this expedition for four main reasons:
- To raise £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK to support my great friend and hero Kev. I hope this money will help stop other men like Kev with prostate cancer from dying.
- ‘To not wait for a diagnosis’ – my friend Kev has inspired me to live life to the full and with intent – not just assuming that I will live to be an old man… the dreams I have now need to be acted on now. Not tomorrow, because tomorrow may never happen.
- To learn, to meet people, to make the world a better place. As you may have already read, I am launching The 196 Foundation shortly. This will act as a legacy for the trip. I hope we can help so many of the people in need I’ve met along this journey. I’m sure I’ll be seeing many more when I return to Africa next year. Please get in touch if you want to help.
- I love photography, I love travel and I love running… so what better way to combine everything and to travel the world…
Thank you for the support so far.
Day 327 – Helsinki, Finland
Do you keep a running diary or a running journal?
Here’s my set-up:
My daily diary book – this is for me, and I guess for my own sanity. Being alone in my own head for two years isn’t easy or healthy. Besides, keeping a diary is a good way to appreciate the day just before bed. I use an app on my Mac and my phones called Day One. It’s great for adding locations and photos to my notes. I also hand-write a one-sentence diary.
My run journal – I love my run journal. Hand-written, I have several books’ worth. Every time I run, I add a new line, date it and then speak about my experience. Sometimes before this trip my notes were short, but other times the notes would be vast. I capture the distance and who I ran with, but other than that, anything goes really. Mostly I want to have a record of how the run made me feel. Over the years I’ve switched from running for fitness, to running for time, and then to compete, and now I run for the love of running.
Because I’m writing my book about the trip, I keep extra detailed notes on all the funny and moving things I’ve seen and experienced. My running diary has never been so full. One thing I introduced this year was a small USB-size voice recorder which I tuck in my pocket everywhere I go. This way, when I run or when I’m thinking, I can make a note. I’ve seen some funny things, and I need to remember how it made me feel so I can write honestly and accurately in my book.
Today has been a day of sorting stuff out, a bit of washing and trying to eat well. I sat in a cosy cafe for a while, writing and cleaning up emails etc. Not a full-on day, but useful.
Any more questions for me? Just ask. Cheers.
Day 328 – Helsinki, Finland to St Petersburg, Russia
Early this morning, while the city of Helsinki was still tucked up in bed, I rolled out of my slumber at about 4am and said goodbye to the beautiful little apartment at Hostel Diana Park. I was warm, and then very quickly cold, as I lifted my 26kg of accumulated crap to the station. A walk which was only 1km, but with snow and ice on the ground, it made the journey feel like an hour. I must have looked like Bambi. I stayed on my feet though.
With only me and one other Finnish guy in first class I shut my eyes and the four-hour journey whizzed by. I woke up a few times to the grumpy tones of the incredibly rude immigration officer (this lady wasn’t smiling) – she looked at my photo and then down at me a few times over the top of her glasses, and then grunted to show her approval (I think…).
The scenery out of the window was lovely and snowy. Shame the window was slightly scratched and covered in ice. I did see the sunrise though.
So it’s now late and I’m sleepy, and it’s time for bed before Marathon 92, here in bitterly cold St Petersburg. I’m not sure what to expect or if it’s going to be too cold; I also don’t know if I have enough clothes. We will see. Night world.
Day 329 – St Petersburg, Russia, Marathon 92
With all the controversy and stigma attached to the nation, I have been very pleasantly surprised by more or less everything, expecting grumpy people and sour faces, the exception being the other four runners I saw while running. All four waved and smiled; all other humans didn’t. Apparently there is a great bond between smiling runners here. I like that.
Wow, what a day! I saw:
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
Singer House (sadly no fried chicken)
Peter and Paul Fortress
The State Russian Museum
Ships x 3 including the Aurora
Carlo Rossi’s arch
Bridges, lots of bridges
The cold was tough at the beginning, mostly because I didn’t wear enough, and the wind was pretty strong. Even though I had shorts and leggings on, I went back for my trousers too. Extra jacket and hand warmers then followed.
Towards the end of my 26.2 glorious miles in crisp, cold weather I was treated to an exceptional sunset. The deep red and orange sky covered the entire city. The vast rivers that knit the city together were all frozen, with birds hitching a ride on the flowing ice. Grey run-down buildings to the background of a lovely sky made today one of my favourite runs. Mostly, I think, because my stereotypes were for the most part wrong. The city is beautiful, vibrant and full of life. If only the people smiled…
Salmon and mashed potatoes and a hot shower, followed by a very hot and chocolatey hot chocolate and I’m smiling and warm. What a brilliant day – 92 marathons done, 104 to go.
Day 330 – St Petersburg, Russia
A day for exploring.
Snow, road rage, pancakes, rooftops, views, and lots and lots of hot chocolate.
Russia, thank you!
It was bitterly cold today… oddly, a different kind of cold. I’ve skied and run in temperatures that are much colder than today, but somehow, even with all my clothes on, I was freezing. First of the month, and thanks to the cold I am feeling Christmassy here. Apparently Christmas is celebrated on the 7th January, with most celebrations being had over New Year.
The vast empty roads, the black coat-wearing people and the gentle snowfall in the evening was a perfect way to end the day… and I had dinner overlooking the stunning Kazan Cathedral.
I managed to find a piano in a lovely little café and had a play – an old upright with dodgy keys, but still…
I’ve just got into bed after a strange taxi ride home. I ordered an Uber (very cheap here). The driver was rather elderly and really shouldn’t have been driving. He was deaf and his glasses were so thick they nearly touched the windscreen. The battered old Russian car was dented and scratched on every panel. On the 5km drive he took up every lane possible, drove with his hazard warning lights on, never looked in his mirrors and was entirely oblivious to virtually everything. I felt so sorry for him; I’m sure he was just trying to earn some money.
A while later two beefy Russian thugs who had spent the past 5 minutes holding their horn down behind, overtook using the curb and proceeded to park at right angles, blocking our path. They got out and began to yell and shout at the poor man. He was clearly scared.
At 80+ I can’t help but wonder why this guy is working; I’m pretty sure it wasn’t for the love of driving badly. I’ve learnt that no matter where I am in the world, human beings always need help from other human beings.
Day 331 – St Petersburg, Russia to Tallinn, Estonia
Big thank you to my hotel in St Petersburg – beautiful rooms, lovely friendly staff, and at no cost. Thanks again, Alexander Hotel. I want to go back.
Grumpy Russian airport staff. I arrived into St Petersburg by train from Helsinki a few days ago, and so my journey was relatively easy compared to usual. Airports are brilliant and yet utterly rubbish sometimes. At least my last journey I didn’t have to go through the usual crap of checking in, queuing, security faff, and then walking for miles to the gate, only to sit on the floor because NO AIRPORTS EVER HAVE ENOUGH CHAIRS.
Today I was the guy with my bag open, and all my possessions thrown all over the airport floor, attempting to reduce the weight of my bag by 6kg. I usually travel with Osprey backpacks, but for the last few months I’ve used a very fancy Eastpak suitcase. The main reason for this was because I wanted more clothes. It’s cold, you know. Anyway, having a bigger bag just meant I’d fill it. By now, and after a few months of this bag travelling with me, I’ve collected things I don’t need, and made my hand luggage lighter – in turn, though, the bag is bloody heavy. Instead of the check-in lady asking me to remove weight, she simply gestured as if to say ‘go away’; she didn’t make a sound… just a wave of the finger. Even after questioning me, she just said, ‘You can’t check in, go away.’ Charming, eh.
I proceeded to wear virtually everything, and rocked up with my hand luggage now weighing at least double the allowance. I was pleased that I’d finally got my bag checked in, but then furious that after all that hassle there were only about five people on the plane. Not helpful, lady! Grrr, this is what over 150 plane journeys does to ya. Oh well, I win some and I lose some.
So I’m now out of one hotel and into another. It’s about 1 am and I can’t sleep, which is odd. I’m usually a great sleeper. I’ll shut my eyes again and see what happens. In five hours my alarm will go off for Marathon 93, here in sleepy Tallinn. Never been here before, so I’ll have a mooch.
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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
Promotional Video: https://vimeo.com/228583946