Run the world: one amateur runner’s ambition to break world record

Amateur athlete Dan Hampton hopes to run 10km in 204 countries to beat world record

Hind Mustafa - Al Arabiya News
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Started at the London Olympic stadium in England and hoping to finish at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Dan Thompson wants to run around the world.

While not a professional athlete, Thompson aims to earn a world record, running 10 kilometers in a total of 204 countries to raise awareness of a healthy lifestyle, he told Al Arabiya News.

Thompson is not only seeking to beat the world record but also to “promote physical activity and exercise. "

“We live in a world with an enormous amount of hunger and poverty, but we also live in a world with an enormous amount of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, a lot of health issues which are associated with unhealthy living,” explained Thompson.

Losing his mother to cancer in December, the amateur athlete hopes to also “raise money for cancer research to benefit everyone across the world,” he explained.

Despite the daunting obstacle, Thompson is confident in his ability.

“I’m absolutely certain I’m going to do all 204 countries,” he said.

Thompson has already ran in 11 countries, but has a lot more planned for 2014 and beyond.

“I’ve got to do around 35-40 countries a year and it’s really tough I have a lot of other things going on in my life like we all do… it’s very tough to fit this all in, but that’s my commitment to finish by then,” he added.

The sport enthusiast ran several 10km marathons in the GCC countries last week.

“I’ve done runs in Kuwait Bahrain, UAE, Oman [and Qatar],” he said, a total of five runs in seven days.

“I didn’t start raising money until I did this trip [to the GCC countries], it was important to me to do a trip where I did a lot of countries all in a row and to know that I was physically capable of doing that,” Thompson explained.

During his final run in his trip to the GCC, which took place in Doha, “there were approximately 12 people at the run… [including] supporters from the West Bay runners and the British Embassy [in Doha],” Roz Griffiths, British Embassy Press Officer, told Al Arabiya News.

It was Griffiths' first time running with Thompson, but not her first 10km run.

“I think the causes behind [his] running are really important. We need to raise awareness that first world problems like obesity and diabetes are the biggest threat to life expectancy that we have,” she said.

While healthy living and physical exercise “make headline news” in England more frequently than they do in the Middle East, Griffiths said the importance of physical exercise is quite popular in Qatar.

She compared the UK and Qatar saying, “Sport and exercise is important in both countries and something both governments try and encourage more of. The London 2012 Olympics have made people in the UK much more aware of the importance of taking exercise, and I think the same thing is happening here in Qatar thanks to the build up towards the 2022 football World Cup.”

With no sponsorships signed yet, Thompson says he is undeterred.

“If I can’t get sponsors, then I will fund it myself.”

Now back in London, he is already planning his next trip to southern Africa and will attempt to do eight countries in eight days, “if my body will stand it,” he added.

The British businessman chairs Gold Challenge, a London-based charity which organizes sporting events.

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