The difficulty in equating the scale of an endurance event to the legacy of Nelson Mandela's period of incarceration is finding something suitably formidable, demanding and appropriate. In his current challenge, comedian Eddie Izzard is honouring the former South African president by running 27 marathons in 27 consecutive days, representing the number of years Mandela spent in prison. The route will see Izzard cover more than 700 miles and will geographically retrace landmarks in the 93-year-old's life in South Africa.
Throughout the 27 days, Izzard will be filmed as part of a documentary for Sky 1, which is to be aired in the UK this autumn. On the connection between his challenge and Mandela, Izzard commented: "Everywhere that resonates with his life, we are going to run. Maybe you'll get this visceral relationship between the struggle of 27 years and the struggle of me trying to run marathons."
As of Thursday (May 18), the comedian had successfully completed his third marathon as he makes his way from the Eastern Cape, the location of Mandela's birthplace. No stranger to endurance running, Izzard successfully completed 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief in 2009. In his most recent facebook post, however, he revealed: "Finished my third marathon yesterday. Maybe the hardest I've ever run...I seem to remember this gets a little easier."
Even though he has met the former South African president once before, he downplayed the prospect of him paying any attention to his run in deadpan fashion: "If someone says to him: 'By the way, there's an idiot - you've met him before - he's doing these runs,' hopefully he might go: 'Oh, yes, running is a good idea. That is a positive thing.'
You can follow Eddie Izzard's progress through South Africa by visiting his website. Throughout his challenge, he will be fundraising for the Eddie Izzard South Africa Fund, which supports the work of organisations helping disadvantaged people across the country.