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Ultra-runner in Jerusalem completes 195th of 196 marathons in two years

From an erupting volcano in Guatemala to the 50°C heat of Djibouti to the mountains of the Himalayas in Nepal, ultra-runner Nick Butter has run marathons the length and breadth of the planet over the last two years.

On Thursday, Israel became the 195th out of the world’s 196 countries he has run in, after completing a marathon around the sights and vistas of Jerusalem.

Butter plans to complete his titanic feat in Greece, naturally, running from the town of Marathon to Athens as did Philippides in 490 BCE, according to legend, to announce the Greek victory over the Persians.

It has taken Butter 674 days to run his 195 marathons, which has cost him some £1 million ($1.28 m) of his own money and money he has received from friends and family, besides receiving £200,000 ($256,000) in sponsorship money from 48 sponsors.

Over the 22 months Butter has gone through 15 pairs of running shoes; paid £140,000 ($180,000) in fees on visas and passports; £5,000 ($6,400) on vaccinations and medicine; bribed 60 people to get through various checkpoints; and listened to over 80 audio books on his runs.

Butter has been shot at while crossing from Guinea-Bissau into the Gambia, been mugged at knife point after a run in Nigeria, faced various perils crossing the Yemeni border, and ran on an erupting volcano in Guatemala.

He was covered in leeches during a marathon in Nepal but still reached an elevation of 4,500 meters, ran while suffering from food poisoning in Bangladesh, and then did a marathon in the Maldives while suffering from a kidney infection that was the result of a food poisoning incident.

On Thursday – his 674th day – Butter arrived in Jerusalem and ran the 42 km. of his personal marathon around the entire city, up Mount Scopus, and down Emek Refaim, past the iconic Montefiore Windmill, through the Old City of Jerusalem and its bustling market, in front of the Western Wall, and up the Mount of Olives.

So why has he embarked upon, and nearly completed, this seemingly Herculean task?

Kevin Webber, a friend of Butter’s whom he met while running, was diagnosed four years ago with prostate cancer, and Butter says that he decided to undertake his marathon of marathons to raise awareness of the disease.
Webber was given two years to live, but will be running with Butter in Greece on Sunday.

The ultra-marathoner has raised some £250,000 ($320,000) to help combat prostate cancer.

But beyond the motivation his friend’s medical situation gave him, Butter explains that it was a desire to serve as an inspiration for people to live their lives to the fullest, and to appreciate their time on the planet, which spurred him to embark on his ultra-running quest.

“We live on average for 29,200 days,” Butter said. “Kevin expected to be living to retirement, and then got told he was going to die in two years’ time. My message is to explore the world, to appreciate what we have, and make the best use of the time we have.”

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