(CNN) Close to 17,000 runners took part in this year’s Athens Marathon, but no one had undertaken a journey to the start line quite like Nick Butter.
Butter’s real race had begun 674 days previously in the -25-degree cold of Toronto. Athens, the final stop of his attempt to run a marathon in all 196 countries in the world, was merely a sprint finish.
What he endured between those two events was enough to crush the spirit of even the most hardened endurance athlete or to test the nous of the most intrepid explorer.
“How long have we got to talk about the lows of this trip?” 30-year-old Butter muses less than a week after crossing the finish line in Greece.
The numbers behind this unique achievement are remarkable, and Butter can reel them off like a schoolchild reciting multiplication tables.
It involved 455 flights painstakingly booked by his Dad back home in the UK, 120 visas, 10 passports, and 10 million steps of running. He completed 22 marathons with food poisoning, four with a kidney infection, 101 on an empty stomach, and managed 320 days without painkillers.
“The lows of the journey were quite extreme,” Butter, who gave up his job as a banker four years ago to plan and complete the record attempt, tells CNN Sport.
“From being attacked and bitten by dogs, to being mugged at knifepoint in Nigeria, to being hit by a car and breaking my elbow. But actually, it was the illnesses that were the real struggles.
“When you’re suffering from food poisoning or a kidney infection, that’s when your body really wants to stop and just say look, I need to recuperate, but I wasn’t able to. In Bangladesh, I was feeling really rough … I think I threw up maybe 20 times throughout the run.”