Maltese athlete’s goal: 27/27/27
Athlete Nathan Farrugia will be stretching his stamina to the limit as he embarks on 27 consecutive marathons – the first of which was held yesterday – that will take him through as many countries in just under a month.
The 37-year-old will be running the national marathon routes, each 42.2 kilometres long, in each of the 27 countries over the next 27 days.
The Kinder European Endurance Challenge, also known as the 27 Challenge, kicked off yesterday with the first marathon that started in Mdina at 6 a.m. ending at the Sliema ferries at 10.30 a.m. Mr Farrugia was accompanied by about 50 runners who joined in for solidarity.
“Today, I was fresh when I started. It was tempting to run faster but I have to conserve my energy for the marathons to come,” he said soon after crossing the finish line.
Mr Farrugia came up with the 27 Challenge to raise funds for two children’s foundations and spread a message of solidarity across the EU during the European Year of Volunteering. He was originally meant to complete the challenge with British John Wilton-Davies who, however, had to abandon the feat after fracturing his heel bone during the intensive training.
“Psychologically, it’s much lonelier to be alone... Besides, I’m going to be away for a month from my wife and children,” said Mr Farrugia, a father of two. “But along the way in the 27 countries I will have runners from local clubs joining me in the challenge,” he said.
Mr Farrugia, and his support team yesterday flew to Finland where the second challenge will be held today. They will then head to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, England, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece to end in Cyprus on October 7.
He plans to run for about four hours a day, between 7 and 11 a.m. and will get from one country to another in a camper van, which is expected to cover a total distance of 8,000 kilometres.
He will be flying out to the more distant countries, including Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal and Spain and the UK.
Mr Farrugia urged people to donate money for the two charities: the Inspire Foundation, of which he is CEO, which works with children with disabilities, and the Daniel Delicata Memorial Foundation that is working to build a play area for sick children at Mater Dei Hospital.
“Apart from this, people should donate in the name of national spirit because it’s a world-record-type event organised by someone Maltese,” he said, adding that he would be updating his blog on the challenge website www.27challenge.com.
Donations can be made through the website and by sending an SMS, with the number 27 in the body of the text message, to 50618 926 for €6.99 and 50619 215 for €11.65.