Nick Butter

Extreme Challenges
Mental Health
Young People

The First Person to Run a Marathon in Every Country in the World

April 12, 2021

There is this magic number of 29,747 the average amount of time a human being lives for, how many hours in your life are you willing to live without being happy?

I am Nick Butter. I am a runner and I guess I would say I am coming to the final stage of the running cycle. People start to run generally speaking to keep fit and then if you become passionate about running you start to do races and so on. The next step is becoming a long distance runner and then you become an “ultra-runner” and then there is me who is someone that has gone past that, I do independent trips which are designed to run but to help the planet we live on and the people living on this planet. 

Growing up, I was a very shy boy, I was also dyslexic, which meant I really struggled to read and write and that also didn’t help me with my shyness. But then I started to turn a corner and due to the support around me from my family and some teachers who pushed me in the right direction, I began to take sport as my outlet. I could just go and kick a ball around outside, however I wasn’t great at football, but really early in my childhood I got into skiing due to my parents being keen skiers and I was first on the slopes at 16 months old. My first dream was to be in the Olympics as a skier and amazingly a few years later I made it into the GB snow sports team and I became a skier. I thought it was amazing but, I had the voice of my parents on my shoulder, telling me that skiing maybe isn’t the best option for a long term career, as skiing is one of those sports where when you get to around 25 years old and you have already peaked. I had suffered a few injuries and so I listened to that voice which was my parents and decided to pursue getting a “real job”. 

From there, I went into finance and banking, but on one hand it was great and it was providing me with a healthy income, but on the other it was depleting my soul. Running had become my outlet, it was the place to get out of my own head and in all honesty it was my escape. I had started entering races and doing quite well and I was lucky enough to be in the position years later where brands would come to me and ask if I wanted to run in certain races for them and I wanted to say yes, but I had to turn them down because I was working. That is when 10 years ago, I said goodbye to my “normal” career and started to become a runner. I was not satisfied at my job, I had always wanted to be happy doing what I loved, and essentially that was doing sport and helping others along the way. 

6 years ago I met a guy called Kevin when I was out in the desert. I was sharing a tent with him and 8 others and he was a really happy and great guy, but Kevin dropped a bombshell on me that he was terminally ill with prostate cancer and he was going to die in 2 year’s time. This was a huge turning point for me, I guess the wake up call I needed! Kev said something to me that had a real impact with me, he said “ don’t wait for a diagnosis, get out there and do something.” After I met Kevin I decided to run for prostate cancer and to help him and prostate cancer UK. I wanted to do a huge challenge to raise awareness and make a difference. I just googled  ‘has anyone run a marathon in every country in the world’ and to my astonishment the answer was no. Therefore, I said to myself I was going to do that. 

The project turned out to be a huge one that went past all initial expectations. 2 years later after a lot of planning I finally got to the start line on January 6th 2018 and started to run. The running was difficult but the challenges that came alongside it were like I had never imagined. I was held at knife point, I was shot at, I had a minor heart attack, I was put in a prison cell and I was hit by a car, but they don’t compare to the positives that we saw and experienced on this trip, from seeing elephants in Africa or running round volcanoes and raising a lot of money for Prostate Cancer UK. 

Overall it lasted 647 days, I ran 196 marathons in 196 countries around the world, I went on 540 flights, needed 12 passports and raised over £220,000 for prostate cancer UK. I am now the first  person to have run a marathon in every country in the world, but the true value is in me being able to do what I love doing, whilst helping causes that I care so much about.

I now realise how precious time is and I will forever encourage people to take advantage of time and never let it pass me by.

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