Marathon Man: 27 days, 27 marathons across South Africa *UPDATE

22 March 2016

*UPDATE: On 20 March 2016, British comedian Eddie Izzard completed his 27 marathons in 27 days challenge, reaching the finish line in Pretoria. Izzard, inspired by the life and work of Nelson Mandela to complete his personal challenge and raise money for the Sport Relief charity, appropriately ended his 1 139 km journey at the feet of the Madiba statue in the gardens of the iconic Union Buildings.

“It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m very tired,’ Izzard told the BBC in front of Mandela’s statue. The network broadcast his finish live. “Thank you to everyone who has donated. This was tough, so don’t do this at home.”

Eddie Izzard, the cross-dressing British comedian, is in the midst of running 27 marathons in 27 days across South Africa. The epic adventure is a tribute to Nelson Mandela and is to raise funds for charity. He plans to end his journey in Pretoria on 20 March.

Izzard has so far raised over R 5 million for the Sport Relief charity, a traditional British initiative that brings sports stars and celebrities together for broadcasts and challenges that raise money for a number of global causes, including HIV/Aids research, poverty eradication and education.

He began his epic quest on 24 February in Eastern Cape – the area where Mandela was born – and, as of 15 March, is rounding Western Cape, completing marathon 21. His end point will be at the Union Buildings in Pretoria at the end of March. Izzard’s progress is being tracked live on his various social media accounts, as well as on a live webcast on the BBC 3 website.

He has been preparing for the ambitious journey for the last five years. Izzard covered the length of the United Kingdom in 2009, running 43 marathons in 51 days, a total of almost 2 000 kilometres, in seven weeks. He attempted the South African route in 2012, but withdrew with health problems, promising that he would return to the challenge as soon as he was better equipped. In addition to professional training, Izzard is being well supported by a team of British and South African endurance experts.

South African Comrades legend Bruce Fordyce joined Izzard along the route to offer advice on how to handle the local running conditions.

The money raised from the challenge will be used to help transform the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people in the world’s poorest communities.

Izzard told the BBC of his inspiration for the grand undertaking: “I was inspired to run the marathons after seeing the film Invictus, named after the poem by English writer William Henley, which was one of Nelson Mandela’s favourite poems while in prison. It is a beautiful poem about being the master of your own fate and destiny.

Mandela used it to give himself determination to keep himself going and keep his spirit alive. (Hearing the words) I knew I had to run in South Africa, as (not only) a salute to the great man, (but) also a salute to all who struggled and fought against (oppression and inequality).”

The entire trip is also being filmed as a documentary covering the life of Mandela, as well as the everyday lives of ordinary South Africans Izzard meets along his way.

Source: News24