Who Am I?
Name: Peter Thompson
Star Sign: Gemini
Like many other thousands of runners, the London Marathon was what inspired me to get running and after crossing the finish line at the Mall in 2009 I have been hooked. I have since been lucky enough to build on my times year on year and progressed from my time of 3:47 back in 2009 to my personal best of 2:25:31 at the 2015 Amsterdam marathon. I have also run up Mount Ventoux, lived and trained in Iten in Kenya and managed to sneak over the line first at a few races including the New Forest and Isle of Wight Marathons.
about The Challenge
I would love to say that the idea of this challenge came to me in a moment of clarity or genius but predictably it came on a run. I've been inspired by people such as Eddie Izzard, Ben Smith, the man who conquered 401 marathons in 401 days and Sarah Outen, whose inspiring film at the Banf ocean film festival showcased the adventure of a lifetime. Many others, who through often less obvious actions or signs of strength, have also fuelled my desire to take on this challenge.
Once I'd come up with the idea of running across Europe I had to work out if it was actually possible! I used the Official United Nations Statistics to determine how many independent countries were actually in Europe, as there seems to be many differing opinions. I'm sure there will be some Geography teachers out there that may argue differently but I have chosen to exclude dependences for example such as the Faroe Islands or Guernsey. Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey appear to be considered states in both continents so there out, and despite being considered politically and culturally within Europe, Armenia and Cyprus are geographically in Asia so they miss out on the short list too. Either way Mr Idle can vouch that Geography was never my strong point so I'm just going to concentrate on the running and stick with the UN's 44.
The route itself involved a mixture of trains, planes, buses, taxis, cars and ferries and spanned the entire continent of Europe. I will not bore you with the logistical nightmare involved in moving from one country to the next during this sort of challenge, but it was nearly as hard as the running!
There are many variables that I couldn't control that had the potential to create problems along the way but, for me, overcoming these just added to the challenge. If it was easy I would have tried to come up with some other equally inventive way to get me out of work for 2 months!
WHo to thank
I am genuinely in debt to the amazing companies who have made this possible, either through becoming main sponsors for the challenge or sponsoring individual marathons. Their contributions laid the foundations for me and my skinny legs to go for it. I could not even have begun to attempt this without their support so I am extremely grateful they felt this challenge worthy of backing.
I must also thank my employers for giving me the time off to undertake this challenge. I'm incredibly lucky to have such a supportive team and boss (she hates me calling her that). Not every one to one involves someone sheepishly asking if they can have two 2 months off to run a marathon in every country in Europe. Amazingly my boss said yes!
Other big thank you's go to my more charming and charismatic big brother Andy, who has put together this amazing website and updated it when I was running around in some far flung country. Looking up to him and his achievements when I was growing up have inspired me and I’m really pleased that he was part of the journey with me.
Then there is my all round good guy Billy McGreevy (looking smug in the first picture above). A 2:53 marathon runner himself, Billy and his wife Isobel have travelled extensively round Europe and were able to help me put together a route that enabled me to pull this off. Next is onto physio Tim Cruise Drew, who supported Eddie Izzard on his South African Marathon Adventure. Tim quickly replied to my email headed 'I want to run 44 marathons in 44 days, Will I die?' and has given me priceless advice as to what to expect from my body before and during the challenge.
Last, but by no means least are those who have sponsored an individual marathon or donated much needed funds to the mental health charities that I'm running for. Your support means a great deal and if I could all give you a big hug I genuniely would!