Endurance athlete dashes through Lux on 196-country marathon mission

After being mugged in Nigeria, and picking up a handful of bugs, Nick Butter was looking forward to a less hazardous marathon when he set out in Luxembourg on Friday.

Luxembourg marked the halfway point of the endurance athlete’s incredible journey which will see him run marathons in 196 countries around the world. Having arrived from Switzerland the day before and heading for Denmark after the Luxembourg leg, Butter said he was “very tired” and desperately in need of a good lie-in.

“I completely underestimated the amount of rest I would need. I do endurance events. My distance is marathon. You can do two weeks, tops. 90 weeks is a whole different ball game,” he told Delano before setting out from St George’s International School on a chilly Friday morning.

Butter began the challenge in January 2018 in a bid to raise awareness about prostate cancer to reduce deaths and also funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

The athlete did his first marathon aged 11, but said it wasn’t until he was older that he really took up running for fitness and then competitions, competing in endurance races for Red Bull. Beyond the competitive side of the sport, Butter said he appreciates “the peace and the therapy you get with running”.

“Other than the dangers, I’m mostly thinking about food, whether I’m warm enough. The times I run alone, which has been half the time on this trip, so far, it’s been incredibly enriching because you get to mentally file stuff away, if you’re tired or stressed,” Butter explained.

Usually, for the first half of each marathon, Butter is accompanied by local runners. So far support has included elite runners, a Ghanaian Paralympian running with crutches and, in El Salvador, 1,000 school children. “The people are the entire trip. If it wasn’t for the people, I don’t think I’d still be doing it,” he said.

Butter’s journey has inspired people around the world and it was no different in Luxembourg where a handful of followers gathered to support him logistically or run with him along a pre-planned route around the capital. Among them was US national Christie, who lives in France and works as a massage therapist in Luxembourg. She explained she had been following Butter’s journey since he first announced it.

“When he said he was doing it for prostate cancer, my father was diagnosed about 6 years ago with prostate cancer, so it really hit home,” she told Delano, adding: “I was interested in his journey and contacted and reached out to him. We made friends through Instagram, tried to meet in multiple places. We’ve been in the same place multiple times in different countries but have not been able to meet face to face until Luxembourg.”

Butter was also joined by the British ambassador to Luxembourg John Marshall, a keen runner who is halfway through his own project to run the length of the Moselle river.

Click here to find out more about Nick Butter and his mission to run the world.

Click here to donate to the cause.