County news: Eddie Izzard’s marathon mission for Sport Relief

Eddie Izzard
Eddie Izzard

Sussex comedian Eddie Izzard begins his attempt to run 27 marathons in 27 days across South Africa for Sport Relief today (Tuesday, February 23).

This gruelling challenge will see Eddie, from Bexhill, aim to run over 700 miles in temperatures of up to 30°C.

Eddie chose 27 marathons to reflect the 27 years that Nelson Mandela spent in prison after seeing the film Invictus.

“Watching the film I suddenly realised – I have to run in South Africa,” he said.

“I should run 27 marathons in 27 days as a salute to the great man. It is also a salute to all who struggled and fought against Apartheid.

“So I am delighted to be doing this for Sport Relief.

“But of course – 27 marathons in 27 days is nothing compared to what Nelson Mandela did by serving 27 years in prison.

“He was a great soul and leaves a fantastic legacy for the world.”

BBC Three will exclusively cover Eddie’s journey from his first marathon to his last planned for Sunday, March 20.

Throughout his journey Eddie will explore the history of South Africa and Mandela as well as visiting communities, organisations and families that have all been helped by the work of Comic Relief.

This mammoth undertaking will culminate in Pretoria at the same time as when the Sport Relief Games will be taking place across the UK.

Eddie’s route will trace the story of Nelson Mandela’s life; starting in his birthplace, before journeying to the school and university that he attended, then on to Cape Town and Robben Island where he was imprisoned.

If Eddie completes all 27 marathons, he will end at the Union Buildings in Pretoria where Nelson Mandela gave his inaugural speech as the first democratically elected President of South Africa in 1994.

The challenge will be an important one for Eddie as he previously attempted a similar feat in South Africa in 2012, but had to pull out for health reasons.

“I tried to do this 4 years ago and failed. This time I will succeed,” he said.

“But if I fail, I will come back again and again and again until I do succeed. Because that’s what Nelson Mandela would have done.”

The 2012 attempt followed his fantastic effort for Sport Relief in 2009, when he completed 43 marathons in 51 days across the UK, pushing through both physical and emotional barriers to raise over £1.8m.

The money raised for Sport Relief from the challenge will be used to help transform the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world’s poorest communities.

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