Running experts suggest months of preparation before running just one marathon, much less 43. Izzard, however, spent only five weeks with Olympic trainers and coaches to ready himself for the road. Though Izzard estimated that running such lengths would use up a large amount of his emotional reserves, he wasn't prepared for how much.

"It was 95 percent mental," Izzard says. "I never could entertain the idea of quitting. I had a film crew following me to help me raise all that money, and so it raised the stakes. I had to get through the feeling that maybe I wouldn't get up that morning and do it. It would have been all over, and it would have been embarrassing to back out."

And so with so much on the line, Izzard found inspiration in the rolling hills surrounding him, running through the very fields and countrysides where his ancestors once farmed. "I realized that centuries passed by in these fields," he says. "I used to run on a treadmill and listen to music, and out there I just couldn't deal with that. I needed to be in touch with everything around me, to be in tune with it all."

The opportunity not only provided Izzard a sense of his family's history, but also his own. 

"There were those moments, when the sun was shining and the running was easy, that I felt like I was a kid again," he says. "There was a lot of recapturing my childhood out there for me. It feels like I now have a continuous line extending from my childhood to my adulthood. 

"We all just dump what we learn from our childhood, don't we? Well, I'm all for everyone finding something to reclaim that feeling."

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