Photo: Amanda Searle
On July 27, amid the early morning commuters making their way through London's Trafalgar Square, a 47-year-old man quietly set off on a journey unlike any he'd ever experienced.
Putting one foot in front of the other and armed with nothing more than five weeks' worth of training and naked determination, Emmy-winning British actor and comedian Eddie Izzard ran unnoticed at the start of his 1,100-mile trip through England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
It was quite the accomplishment for someone who can sell out three consecutive nights at Radio City Music Hall and is considered one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time. For Izzard, his quest to complete the equivalent of 43 marathons during the course of 51 days was about something bigger than solidifying his notoriety.
"I saw this as a big adventure," he says. "I think everyone needs to create their own big adventure."
To understand the motivation behind his epic run, Izzard says you have to begin with his childhood. Growing up in Bexhill-on-Sea, a small, seaside resort town south of England, Izzard says he not only discovered a passion for sports, but also for recognizing that life is what you make of it. "Everyday life isn't all that exciting," he says. "Nothing much happened in the small town I grew up in, and so I discovered that I like to make things happen."
When the organizers of Sport Relief, a biennial charity event sponsored by Comic Relief and BBC Sport, approached Izzard, he saw it as a perfect opportunity to marry what was a long-dormant love of running and a desire to give back in a big way.
By the end of his journey, Izzard raised $250,000 for Sport Relief, which helps the less fortunate in Britain and in poor countries worldwide.
"This seemed to be a way that I could finally make a contribution," he says. "Plus, I could kick-start something I loved from my childhood, dropped as a teen and have regretted doing so ever since."
What kept Izzard motivated during those long runs?