IMG_7790

Day 332 – Tallinn, Estonia, Marathon 93

Breathing in the cold air, my nostrils and the back of my throat were icy cold. The sound of the squeak of the white stuff under my feet is like no other. Mmmm, snow! ❄

I looked out into the world and said: ‘Let there be snow…’ and the snow came; I was pleased with my creation. Okay, so obviously I’m not God, and nor did I really want it to snow today, but it did, and after a while the memories of countless ski trips surrounded by snow consumed my thoughts for the rest of the run. I miss the mountains.

I started today late, tired and really not in the mood to run. My experience, though, served me well as I dragged my body out of bed two hours after my expected start time. I knew I’d be in full swing once I got going. My body and legs felt entirely fine, not a single complaint.

After mile 5 the power of running happened and before I even realised it I was singing out loud to a made-up song – something along the lines of ‘I’m running in the snow, and I hope I don’t fall over, blah blah blah’. Does anyone else sing to themselves when they run? Most places I’ve been to understand English, and yet I feel it’s somehow fine to chat or sing to myself out loud while running – I guess it’s me mentally filing away all the stuff that needs to be done and attempting to make sense of the day.

IMG_7818

Today was my first marathon of the trip in a full-on snow day. As I plodded tentatively through the last 16 miles, my mood lifted, and slowly the city that was once grey and black was now crisp and sparkling white, as if mirroring my mood.

IMG_7101 1

Within three hours roughly 3 inches of snow had fallen; the run was initially windy and bitterly cold, but once the snow came, the wind dropped and the thick, full flakes fell to the floor weightlessly. I ran through the forest and up and around a lake just out of the main city of Tallinn.

IMG_7807

IMG_7831IMG_7824

I was reminded to be grateful for all those who have led me down the path of adventure, travel and exploration. All it took was the courage to try!

Day 333 – Tallinn, Estonia

Wi-Fi, snow and another new belt loop. Uh oh…

IMG_7888

My waistband has shrunk dramatically. I started the trip on the far right belt loop and then moved to the middle in June and yesterday I had to make a new hole. My weight is only about 8kg less than at the beginning, but it’s safe to say running lots of marathons makes your body a bit slimmer. My body fat percentage is certainly less. Oh, and eating badly, along with poor sleep and various illnesses also does the trick. #nicksweightlosstips

I did manage to catch up on my diary entries, plus do some exercise and stretching. This mostly consisted of bodyweight core and hip flexor work – fundamental to running, in my opinion. Anyone got any great exercises I should be doing?

Things I didn’t know about Estonia, but that I do now:

  1. For a small Baltic country, their tech is superb! Could you imagine having an internet connection while hiking in the forest? Well, in Estonia it’s possible, and not only that, you could even get 4G in the forest! Estonia has one of the world’s fastest internet speeds, and you’re never far from free public Wi-Fi. ALSO Estonia invented Skype. In 2003, Skype was a small start-up company in Estonia. Even though Microsoft now owns Skype, it still has offices around Tallinn.
  2. Estonia is one of the least religious countries on earth. While it has a great range of historical churches, only over a quarter of the population are affiliated with a particular religion, with Lutheranism being most prevalent among Estonians in particular.
  3. Estonia has 2,000 islands! This place is the only Baltic country with a far-stretching and deep-rooted island culture. Although mostly uninhabited, Estonian islands tend to be rural, with some traces of local Viking and medieval culture.
  4. Bonus item – I really like Estonia. Ha, surprised myself.

I was just having a lazy day today. I got up late, and basically didn’t do much else. I washed my pants, if that counts. Nothing like scrubbing your four-week-old boxers in the sink. #classy #running #runner #marathon #runningtheworld196 #baltic #estonia #run #adventure

Day 334 – Tallinn, Estonia to Riga, Latvia

Bus the Baltics!‼ The best long bus journey of my life.

IMG_7205

IMG_7929

This morning I travelled from one Baltic country to another. My mode of transport? NOT a plane. An ordinary bus from the outside, but a luxury lounge on the inside. Okay, so I exaggerate slightly, but it really was very comfortable. For €24 I paid for the extra comfy recliner seats at the back; included in the price was a small meal and a bottle of water. The seat reclines 20 degrees, and has a fold-out platform for my sleepy legs. I had a screen a little bigger than an iPad in front of me with headphones supplied, and the best bit, I had one of those fancy but entirely unnecessary curtains that separated me in the luxury section with the peasants from cattle class. The difference being virtually none, but still, we had a red velvet curtain to distinguish the substantial €9 per seat divide. It also made no difference that the curtain was stained and ripped in many places.

IMG_7213 1

My compliments go to Lux Express and specifically my driver for the day. Despite the very humorous conversation we had, he knows how to drive a bus without constantly hitting the breaks hard or rally drifting around roundabouts (circles, for you Americans). This was the first bus driver in history who actually drove like he had people on board. Hooray for Henry (possibly not his name).

The conversation I had with ‘Henry’ went like this:

Me: “Hi, could you please turn the heating down at the back of the bus… please; your 1st class passengers are dripping in sweat and panting like dehydrated dogs.”

Driver: “No.”

Me: “Could you please just make it a bit cooler… please?”

Driver: “But it’s only at 29°C.”

Me: “29?????”

The driver looked at me with a vacuous stare, reached over and pushed the blue ‘down’ button on the temperature control; the temperature gauge fell to 28.5°C. He looked up at me and with a shrug and a look of ‘there you go’… he said nothing.

Containing my laughter I went back to my seat and got as close to naked as possible. #bus #naked #PCUK #running #run #travel #runningtheworld196 #adventure

Day 335 – Riga, Latvia, Marathon 94

So, after arriving in the city by bus yesterday, I lugged my luggage to the hotel about 800 metres from the bus stop.

The hotel was cute, cosy and rather homely.

I’m on the 6th floor of an old Latvian terraced building in the centre of Riga. The sloping ceilings in my penthouse suite, were, well, sloping, and therefore I have only hit my head 11 times in the past 12 hours, two of which I was sleeping.

IMG_7990

Today’s marathon was long, cold, rainy and pretty boring. Sometimes I don’t feel like running, and all this cold weather followed by a lack of sleep and not a lot of food made today’s jog not the best.

IMG_7275 1IMG_8001

Don’t get me wrong, I sang to myself as I ran, the sunset was lovely, the buildings were interesting and the snow was pretty… and I was all smiles by the end; it was just cold and my body didn’t really wake up till about mile 19.

Something very prevalent here is the sign of the former Soviet Union and the lack of wealth outside the city. Riga is the capital, but venture just a few miles out of the city either way, and the money and investment tails off substantially. It’s like dropping a handful of coins at your feet. Most of the coins will fall and remain at your toes and the spread will continue out fairly evenly, with a few outlier coins rolling further away. The housing especially is very poor and shabby; the roads are old and the paved walkways are wonky and dilapidated.

I saw many a sullen face, with equally glum everything else… covered with grey and black jackets, hats and gloves, these people don’t seem happy. I guess this may have affected my mood somewhat. The snow was also melting and the brown and black slush of spray from car tyres was hitting me far too frequently. I was dirty, snotty and half asleep. I even ran for about 2 miles along a dual carriageway just to complete the final out-and-back distance. I then got distracted by the sunset and ran the wrong way to a dead end. I reached for my reserve Pulsin bar and downed a hot chocolate from a service station.

Another marathon complete, I peeled the wet muddy layers off me and draped them around the cosy loft room before a long hot shower. #marathon #run

IMG_7297 1

Day 336 – Riga, Latvia

My diary is filling up, and so another quality pad was on the ‘to find’ list. Today was relaxed, slow and chilled in both senses of the word. I wrote some more, and then gorged myself on the free food in the hotel.

IMG_8024IMG_8075IMG_8083

If you go to Riga, you must stay in this hotel, Clarion Collection Hotel Valdemars. This place understands service. The rooms are standard and nothing special, but cute and well kept. The lobby and entrance are small and by no means grand… but like all great hotels, the staff are what make the experience memorable.

For the vast majority of my hotel stays on this trip, staff have missed the mark on many fronts… here, though… spot on. The ethos of the hotel is to serve. And they do. From 6am to 10am a free high-quality breakfast with fresh warm croissants, hot fat sausages, bacon, a range of freshly cooked bread… the list goes on; similar with lunch from 1pm to 3pm, and dinner from 6pm to 9pm. I had several helpings of beef and mushroom stroganoff with herby potatoes and a few slices of bread and butter. I drank water, juice and tea.

IMG_7944

 

There’s no queue or room number signing, no pointless table service; just a fantastic buffet with high-quality food. Options for everyone, while not going over the top –you know what I mean.

The atmosphere in the bar, lobby and restaurant area was great, with TVs, lounge chairs and some small family games. Nothing fancy, but just right, for me at least. Shoes off, feet up, I scribbled some notes in my book, did some emails and went for more food. Thank you Clarion Collection Hotel Valdemars – just what I needed for a snowy, cold, rest day.

Thanks to the restaurant  down the road for lunch. Five courses, with drinks, €30 between us. A treat.

 

So I’m now in bed, and my tummy feels full to bursting. After the food poisoning incident I was pleased to have my appetite back for the first time in weeks. Tomorrow I head to Lithuania. #running #dream

Day 337 – Riga, Latvia to Vilnius, Lithuania

Another Lux coach, meeting friends, more snow, and some eye-opening facts.

IMG_8199IMG_8177

I’ve been introduced to some great stats about society and our species. As you will probably know by now I’m keen on living life to the full, and appreciating the time we have on our planet. This journey so far has been utterly eye-opening and thought-provoking to an alarming degree… and for countless reasons.

I speak in companies and schools about living with intent and leaving the planet better than we found it… I’ll be touring all over the place sharing stories about my trip once I’m done – roughly this time next year… if you’re interested in hearing some stories, let me know.

What I heard today resonated with me, and gives some perspective and context to our daily lives. Let me know what you think.

I watched a translated Russian philosopher give a 2-minute speech. Here’s what I learned. If you were to squeeze all the facts about how the world works into 100 people, while maintaining all the proportions, here’s how it looks:

Of the 100 people…

▪ 57 are Asian

▪ 21 are European

▪ 14 are American (north, central and south)

▪ 8 are African

▪ 52 are women

▪ 48 are men

▪ 30 are white

▪ 70 are not white

▪ 30 are Christian

▪ 70 are not Christian

▪ 89 are straight

▪ 11 are gay

▪ 6 would have 59% of all the money in the world

▪ 80 are really really poor

▪ 70 wouldn’t know how to read

▪ 50 would be starving

▪ 1 would have a computer

▪ 1 would have university education

▪ 1 in 3 billion could pray freely

▪ 8 have some physical cash to spend

I hope this makes you appreciate today.

After my long snowy coach journey I reached my hotel in Vilnius, here in Lithuania, tonight. I met briefly with my buddies Andy and Annabelle and went straight to bed. Tomorrow I believe we have a fair few runners. Big thanks to Andy and Annabelle for making the effort to come see me. #travel #runningtheworld196 #run #graffiti #world #runner

Day 338 – Vilnius, Lithuania, Marathon 95

Today is HALF WAY!

338 days down – only another 338 days to go…

Typical of the trip, the morning of the marathon was hectic. When I run on my own, and without support, it’s easy; I just leave the hotel and find my way through 26.2 miles. The running is never as fun, but there’s less to think about.

Today I ran with friends from home, Andy, Annabelle and Dan. These guys flew out especially to support the cause and to get stuck in. You may remember Andy from five other countries earlier in the year. This is his fourth trip to see me. Legend! Furthermore, Andy will be staying for five more countries up to my penultimate marathon this year, in Poland.

IMG_8202

Today wasn’t ordinary in any way; it was cold, snowy, and once again in a new country, but the extra special arrangements were the icing on the cake. In Copenhagen I met a guy called Mundungous, who is actually Lithuanian. He mentioned in passing that he would organise something, and to my surprise he did, and it was fantastic. We ran with over 100 people, and even had our collection to and from the hotel, all paid for by him. Another example of the way this trip makes everything possible. Thank you my new Lithuanian/Danish friend.

IMG_8227

Thanks to Red Bull for providing the banner, and thanks to the race organisers who also created engraved medals with the Running The World 196 logo plus refreshments. It was a lapped course today: 10 laps, a bit of road, a bit of hill, and mostly slushy, melting ice. It was very sloppy under foot. Lastly, a special thanks to Lina and Olga for making the effort to arrange everything.

IMG_8842

IMG_8207IMG_8220

Annabelle, Andy and I ran together all the way, occasionally stopping for reindeer gingerbread and a Red Bull.

IMG_8276IMG_8263

IMG_8352IMG_8386

Another one done. It was cold, slippery and my feet are now soaked, plus I have a few blisters… but everything’s okay ‘cos we smiled and chatted all the way. Thanks gang.

IMG_8248

IMG_8271IMG_8410

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