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Day 403 – Tbilisi, Georgia 🇬🇪 Marathon 115

My favourite market…

Thanks to the wonders of jet lag, my body was extra less keen to fall out of bed this morning.

The city of Tbilisi is small, mountainous and bustling. As with most great cities, a river runs through the centre, providing both trade and beauty. One of my favourite bridges in the world is here, a footbridge over a short stretch of river. In contrast to the tatty old buildings of the downtown area, this bridge is modern and clean. As I ran east on the right of the river I passed fishermen lining the stretch of walkway. With their identical, simple fishing rods, they stood with grim faces, de-tangling fishing wire, attaching bait, or simply doing anything other than fishing. Or perhaps this is fishing.

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The pavement ran out at the same time I happened to spot a bunch of stray dogs on the river bridge ahead. Like in some film where dogs speak, this old, seemingly struggling pack were trotting along in single file, as if on a mission. Heads down, they knew what they were doing. I’m sure they were friendly, but with my history, I didn’t want to take any chances. So I doubled back.

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A few miles downstream and about 8 miles into my 115th marathon I was happily into my stride. It was cold, but sunny. I enjoyed listening to an audio book before turning the corner to cross over another bridge to continue my journey to 26.2 miles. A huge open-air market appeared. It was one of those times where you look up and see a huge sea of unexpected delights. I love a good market. To get an idea, think old men who’ve been doing this their entire lives, with their old damaged belongings, and you get a sense of the scale and feel of the place.

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A quick stop in a service station to buy some fuel and I was on my way @redbull Before I knew it, I was done. Tick. I even ran further than I had to. I stopped my watch at the 26.4-mile mark but then continued to run back to the hotel. It felt easy today. Weird.

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Day 404 – Tbilisi, Georgia 🇬🇪

A trip to Mtshekta, a parrot, a monkey in a hoodie, that amazing market, and a barbershop.

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Today I couldn’t help myself – I found some souvenirs. The highlight of my day was geeking out on trinkets in the open-air market. Mostly elderly, I will never forget the friendly yet battered faces of the market stallholders. Huddled around their carefully laid out belongings, these folk were lifers. The market is open 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it’s more of a family than a market. I strolled around with my eyes wide – war medals, massive swords, a grammar phone, tapestries, watches, vintage cameras and huge collections of virtually everything. I had planned on a 45-minute stroll; I was there for 4 hours. I came away with a few albums, an old camera and a big grin on my face. I’d asked many of the stallholders for a chat and a photo. I wanted to try and capture the atmosphere. Hopefully you’ll see what I mean in my Photography book, due to be published next year. Want one?

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My driver then took me to a quirky old village, a 25-minute drive away – small single-floor stone and beam buildings set next to a large lake with a castle atop a hill. The sun was out, but it was crisp and chilly. I noticed a guy with a parrot and a monkey. Strange, right. Although cruel, this monkey was cute, and so well behaved. He was also fond of my camera.

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A few hours after returning to #Tbilisi I stumbled across a small and very photo-friendly barbershop. I love to photograph the real life of each country I visit. I pushed back the once-translucent heavy glass door, which was now a dirty grey. I asked the owners if I could sit for a while and take some photos. The clientele were interested; we got chatting and exchanged emails. The people of #Georgia are lovely. Thank you.

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Tonight I spent about 2 hours scoffing my face and I’m now gathering enough steam to pack ahead of a very early start. It’s 11pm and in 5 hours I’m up for a taxi to the airport. I am full of brilliant food – bread, cheese, eggs, meat and broccoli. Needless to say I am feeling heavy and bloated. Another adventure tomorrow.

Day 405 – Tbilisi, Georgia 🇬🇪 to Yerevan, Armenia 🇦🇲 and Marathon 116

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3 countries, 2 flights, 1 marathon, and 1 change of plan.

Everyone has the occasional day here and there where your alarm wakes you up but then somehow you fall into a deeper sleep. On waking for the second time, you’re confused and wondering where you are and what happened. Today was a weird start. At 3am I woke up to catch a super-early flight from Tbilisi to Yerevan. This was to be country 116. I was dropped at the airport in plenty of time, went about my usual routine of visiting the lounge and then sleepily waited to board the plane. I arrived in Armenia at about 7am, and my hotel was a short taxi away.

I pushed open the door to my new hotel room and immediately stripped down and went to sleep. At 10.00am my alarm went off. This is where my brain was confused. I thought I was still in Tbilisi. Panic. I wasn’t, and quickly realised all was well. So here I am, in another country, on the same day, waking up a second time. As I was here so early, over the course of an hour I persuaded myself to run today and have a bonus rest day tomorrow.

Needless to say I was exhausted. After today I was due to rest for two days before flying back to the UK to collect more visas. I called my parents and checked messages from some of the team. There were a lot of plans to confirm for my brief return home. As I pulled my socks on, ready to run, I realised I could potentially just go home after today’s run. I would have an extra two bonus days at home, which meant I wouldn’t be rushing around as much as usual.

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That was that, my mind was made up. So I’m not writing this after returning from my marathon, pre-shower and pre-packing. I have found a flight home at 11pm. I arrive in the early hours of tomorrow, 8 hours from here in Armenia to Poland, Warsaw to London Heathrow. Ahh, the motherland, and two days of time to myself. No running, no media, no writing and no commitments. Bliss. But as you can imagine, I have about 4 hours until I’m due to fly, and so I’m going to be super-extra-tired these next few days. Oh well, I’m used to it.

Day 406 – Yerevan, Armenia 🇦🇲 to home, UK 🇬🇧 via Warsaw, Poland 🇵🇱

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Following on from yesterday’s full day and my 11pm flight last night to London via Poland, I am now safe and sound and back in England. It’s grey and dull. Ahh, home, so nice to have an extra couple of bonus days.

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I was planning to sleep on both these flights and come back refreshed; instead I happened to bump into Katy, a geologist and engineer, also originally from Dorset. Small world. We chatted a lot, and before I knew it, we were home and having a bite to eat before our onward travels. Flights are now very much second nature.

My mum and dad kindly met me at the airport and I offloaded various souvenirs and bits and pieces on to them. A quick hello to the dog, and a hug, and I was off to crack on with my ‘to do’ list. I’m back to country 117 in five days.

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I have five days to catch up on the following:

Meeting sponsors

Attending a few interviews

Meeting with the brilliant team at Prostate Cancer UK

Catching up with Kev (likely over the phone, sadly)

Catching up with friends and family

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Collecting my new batch of visas for Asia and the remainder for the Middle East

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Eating as much as possible

Meeting a new corporate client

Putting together training plans

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Pre-recording a talk for a new event

Speaking with a new brand, Thriva, that I’ll be working with. These guys are going to help me understand nutritional values and what my body’s doing to cling on to any body fat I have

Dentist appointment

Doctor’s check-up

Massage my tired limbs

Hopefully some time to relax

Discuss finances and logistics with the team

Catch up with my editor Dawn (legend)

Get my head around the next phase of the journey

Find some time to write some more of the book

Discuss the upcoming speaking tour for next year

Progress The 196 Foundation (it will launch officially soon, I promise) – you can read more about this online soon

Back up and charge all my electronics

Pack my new bag

Wash my clothes

Sleep a lot

Clear some emails and finally get back to some of you who have sent me lovely messages – thank you.

Please continue to donate to @prostatecanceruk Link in my bio.

Day 407 – UK 🇬🇧 rest day

Thank you all for the support over the last 58 weeks 👌🏼 Just another 38 weeks and 80 marathons remaining. 🙏

I have now completed 6 phases of the 13 of the trip. Before planning this journey, the team and I broke the expedition down into 13 phases. These signified a completed continent or specific return home for the next passport or new batch of visas. My next phase, phase 7, starts my Asia leg in earnest – bring on the heat, the rain and the humidity.

I’ve completed:

59% World 🌎

100% North America 🇺🇸

100% Central America ⭐️

100% Caribbean Islands 🌴

100% South America ⛰

95% Europe 🌆

54% Africa 🗺

5% Asia ⛩

0% Oceania ⛱

0% South Pacific Islands 🌿

The next 20 countries with marathon dates – come and run with me:

23/02/19 – Singapore 🇸🇬

26/02/19 – Brunei 🇧🇳

28/02/19 – Philippines 🇵🇭

02/03/19 – Japan 🇯🇵

06/03/19 – China 🇨🇳

09/03/19 – Malaysia 🇲🇾

12/03/19 – Vietnam 🇻🇳

16/03/19 – Cambodia 🇰🇭

20/03/19 – Thailand 🇹🇭

24/03/19 – Myanmar 🇲🇲

27/03/19 – Laos 🇱🇦

30/03/19 – Taiwan 🇹🇼

02/04/19 – South Korea 🇰🇷

04/04/19 – Mongolia 🇲🇳

07/04/19 – Kyrgyzstan 🇰🇬

10/04/19 – Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

13/04/19 – Tajikistan 🇹🇯

17/04/19 – Uzbekistan 🇺🇿

19/04/19 – Azerbaijan 🇦🇿

22/04/19 – Afghanistan 🇦🇫

What’s this trip all about? If you didn’t know by now, this expedition is all to support my dear friend Kev. Kev has prostate cancer and was given as little as two years to live. I think about him every day without fail. This trip is to raise £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK.

I’ve spoken about Kev’s determination, his attitude and how he’s inspired me. Thousands of people all over the world now know of your greatness, Kev. By the time this 675 days is completed I will be the first person to run a full marathon distance in every country in the world – one marathon in every one of the 196 countries in the world. Please donate. Link in my bio.

Day 408 – UK 🇬🇧 passport and visa collection @universalvisas

Let’s applaud the brands that have helped make this trip happen:

Energizer Mobile

Lloyds Banking Group

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Do Sport Live

Pro Direct Running

Athletic Tea Co

Red Bull

Juice Plus

Runderwear

Go Pro

Touch Note

British Embassy

Universal Visas

DS48

Koryo Tours

Osprey

Suunto

Adidas

Rehband

National Running Show

Pulsin and Beyond

A special thanks to Maz, Fisal and the team at Universal Visas. These guys are responsible for getting me in and out of every country. Passports and visas. Imagine a circus clown juggling hundreds of forms, passports, various numbers and protocols, timelines and visa applications, and you generally get the picture of what magic they do – just take away the clown shoes and red nose. I’m so lucky to have this lot helping me, and for free. Unbelievable support. If you ever need a visa, go and see them. London-based, not far from the Barbican. Thank you.

What is #RunningTheWorld196?

Running The World 196 is my expedition to be the first person to run a marathon in every country in the world. Over 674 days I will run a full marathon distance in each of the 196 official countries on the planet. A new world first, and a new world record. Plus I hope to gain a few extra world records along the way too. I fly to a new country, and run a marathon every two or three days. I’ll need 90 visas, up to eight passports, take over 300 flights, and hopefully run with thousands of people.

Why #RunningTheWorld196?

I met a man called Kev, and this man changed my outlook on life. Kev has terminal prostate cancer and was given as little as two years to live. Thankfully he is still alive today, but ultimately this cancer will take him from us. I left my old life behind and began my journey to plan this expedition to raise some money and to help stop other men like Kev dying. It took me two years to plan, and it will take me 23 months to execute. My objective is three-fold: (1) to raise £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK; (2) to be the first person to run a full marathon distance in every country in the world; and (3) to live by Kev’s teachings.

Day 409 – UK – Talk Sport

A manic but efficient day in London – oh, admin…

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Such a pleasure to meet and chat with the gang at Talk Sport today. Prostate Cancer UK is trying to launch a nationwide screening programme. This would mean men over the age of 50 can get tested easily and quickly. It’s a no-brainer and so it was a good opportunity to shout about this on the radio this afternoon. Thank you Talk Sport.

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As well as running around London like a madman, I also managed to see my agent and team at Red Monkey Collective. They are supporting the journey in various ways, but sadly I don’t often get a chance to see them. I found an hour in the diary today, before meeting up with my friend Gen for dinner. A quick but busy train back home, I put my head down and squirrelled away with various emails and admin bits and pieces.

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It’s time to rest now. I only have a couple of days before I’m back on the road, and so my priority now is sleep, food and more sleep. It’s nice to see my family for a while, but this often involves planning meetings huddled around the computer in the study – spreadsheets, scratching heads and worried faces. This journey is far more than we first thought. It’s possibly the biggest underestimate I’ve ever made. It’s hard in more or less every way – but then, that’s the point. And I hope Kev and all those affected by prostate cancer will know that I’m not stopping until the mission is complete.

I have 40 weeks, 80 marathons, 80 countries and a whole lot of sweating still to be done. This trip is magical, insanely tough, and some days I don’t know if I want to laugh or cry. Emotionally and physically I am on the edge most days. It’s a journey of realisation, reflection and keeping one eye firmly on the finish line. I am enjoying writing my book – it’s slow progress (I’m a little busy), but wow, the memories so far. If you’d like to hear me speak about the journey, we have a nationwide speaking tour coming up in 2020. If you’re interested, pop me a note and I can tell you roughly when we’ll be in your area.

Please DONATE. Use the link in my bio to give a few £, € or $ via JustGiving. Alternatively, just search ‘Nick Butter JustGiving’.

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Nick Butter

British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer

FOR SPEAKING ENQUIRES – EMAIL: speakerbookings@nickbutter.com

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

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

Sign up to the Virtual Challenge: https://etchrock.com/challenge/buy-ticket/running-the-world-196

JustGiving: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runningtheworld

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