World Run 2 – Jesper Olsen
Danish ultra runner Jesper Olsen ran around the world 2 times:
“What fascinated me about doing such a long run was the opportunity to literally measure the world, not only by thought but by using my body as the medium to understand and experience the world.
Step by step and continent by continent; to understand the world, its vastness, its diversity, its cultures, and its nature; and its unity, if such thing exists.
What it really is beyond the books, television shows, documentaries and “snapshots” and “highlights” we usually experience,” Olsen describes in his book “The Runners Guide to the Planet.”
I think it’s something all of us can do, even if it sounds outrageous.
Jesper finished his first World Run at age 33, after running 26,232 km from East to West in 662 days. During his second run, 7 years later, he headed North-South, covering 36,917 km in 1,489 days, crossing 29 countries on 5 continents.
Together with ultrarunner Sarah Barnett Jesper ran the North-South route starting on 1 July 2008. The North-South run aimed to complete a distance of 40,000 kilometers (25,000 mi) with GPS tracking and live coverage, thus making it the world’s longest fully GPS-documented run. The run went from top to bottom of the globe and back, running across four continents and a huge range of temperatures and terrain. It can be seen as a run in a circle around the world in southern, later northern direction with the poles excluded. It started at North Cape, Norway (1 July 2008) passing Helsinki, Finland (4 August), Copenhagen, Denmark (25 August), Budapest, Hungary (25 September), and Istanbul, Turkey (5 November).
On December 1, 2008, near Silifke, Turkey, Sarah had to give up after 7,334 kilometers (4,557 mi), and Jesper continued alone. He passed Cairo, Egypt (1 January 2009) and Addis Abeba, Ethiopia (16 April). Cape Town in South Africa was reached by 15 March 2010, thereby completing the first half of the run and the first documented run through Africa, a distance of 21,449 kilometers (13,328 mi).
Jesper spent more than six months recovering in Denmark due to dysentery, malaria, and two operations to eliminate deep infections in his right arm. He then continued his run on 1 January 2011 from Punta Arenas for the last half of the run, through South America and North America to Newfoundland. On 28 July 2012, Jesper announced on his website the completion of World Run 2 in Cape Spear, Newfoundland.
“To be able to do two laps of running around the world is not something that is unique to me. Its an ability and strength which we all are born with.”
“During the last 200 years there has been immense progress, but at the same time we have ‘learned’ to forget some of our inner strength, both physical and mental. But that does not mean that the ability to use our full strength is gone. It can be useful in many areas, not only in sports.”
“While you struggle, you have no distractions. You must confront your inner self and deal with its strengths and weaknesses while you search for motivation and stamina. You are in constant negotiation between the wish for comfort and your desire to go beyond limits. And it allows you to explore who you really are,“ Jesper explains.
Jesper Olsen has been running since he was 12. His career started in the Danish Heart Foundation’s fitness club, where he taught himself to run on the body’s terms. “It’s important to run in a way that’s healthy for the body,” the runner points out. ECCO’s Event and Sponsorship Manager, Morten Lauge Jensen, explains why ECCO wanted to support Jesper’s project. “ECCO has a charity program – ECCO Walk for Life – which promotes health, children and the environment. Jesper’s passion to run for bodily health and at the same time to shed light on the world’s natural treasures combines two of the three areas we support in a single project – the environment and health,” Lauge Jensen explains.