On 1st April Peter Thompson will begin his mammoth undertaking, attempting to finish 44 marathons in 44 countries over the course of 44 days.
Peter’s ‘Marathon’s for the Mind’, will help to raise much-needed awareness and donations for mental health. He has selected the charities Livability (whose wellbeing programme Flourish is run at Livability Holton Lee’s centre in Dorset) and Mind.
An elite marathon runner in the UK, Peter reveals what inspired him to take on this life-changing challenge.
Big adventures start from simple ideas
‘I have quite adventurous flatmates who went off traveling for a couple of weeks. This inspired me to look at a map of all the countries in Europe and try to figure out a way to travel around them. This was the seed of the idea of running 44 marathons in all of the 44 countries.’
Family and friends were on board from the start.
The first person Peter told was his dad. ‘We went to a café together and l told him about my idea. He knows what I’m like so he knew I was serious! He was surprised – but excited and supportive too. All of my family have been quite relaxed about it, which is a massive encouragement.’
‘I did a lot of research on the logistics of the marathons and it really did seem like it would be too difficult – the whole thing almost didn’t happen. Then I started working with a friend who’s done a lot of traveling round Europe and got to where, on paper at least, it became a possibility.’
A love of adventure
‘I’m most excited about the unknown – the realisation that I don’t know what’s going to happen.
‘With other marathons, when I step up to the starting line I know I can do it. I don’t necessarily know at what speed or what’s going to happen on the day, but I’m pretty sure that it’s possible. With this challenge I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. I might need to travel by bus or train and there could be a strike that day – or I could get injured. Equally, everything could go perfectly to plan. I just don’t know.
‘I love going to new places, experiencing other cultures and lifestyles and seeing how other people live. If it wasn’t for this challenge, I wouldn’t be able to experience all these countries or meet any of the people along the journey.
‘Aside from my love of travel and new experiences, it’s an amazing opportunity to try and raise as much money as possible knowing the difference that it will make. That’s a massive motivation and real source of excitement as well.’
Facing your fears – and doing it anyway
‘My biggest fear is not being able to compete, for whatever reason, and letting myself down. My other big fear is letting other people down. So many people have helped to make this happen. Livability and Mind have done so much to support this and my family and friends have all been massively supportive as well.
‘I have a family friend in Sweden who will be guiding me around Stockholm and putting me up for the night. Another friend is flying out to Bulgaria to run that marathon with me – he speaks the language so he’ll be there to support me logistically. Even people from running clubs around Europe who I don’t even know have offered me accommodation or arranged to greet me when I arrive in their country.
‘But there are also other worries – little things like my alarm not going off. I’ve got such a tight schedule I can’t afford to be late starting on any of the days. I’ll definitely be setting six alarm clocks around my bed!
‘When the time comes to begin, I know I’ll be as ready as I can be. I know how much training I’ve done – I’m doing everything I can to be prepared.