If you have a Reader’s Digest magazine subscription, the May issue should be arriving with you any day now, featuring comedian and actor Eddie Izzard on the cover.
Over recent years Izzard has become something of a marathon runner, having competed in 43 marathons over the space of 51 days for Comic Relief in 2009. For his next trick he decided to run 27 marathons in 27 days across South Africa as part of a Sky documentary on Nelson Mandela, who was famously imprisoned for 27 years.
Speaking about Mandela, he says: “He’s one of the greatest people who’s lived because he’s not a saint. I would say Nelson Mandela isn’t special, but what he’s made himself do is special. He spent all that time in prison—to come out that calm, with that generosity of spirit…this guy needs to be celebrated.”
However, his 27 marathon stint didn’t go to plan, as he became unwell after the fourth. He explains that after his urine changed colour, he decided to have a quick check up and was surprised when the doctor told him ‘You go straight into hospital.’ It seems he was having a bad effect to prescription drugs.
“That threw me,” he says. “I started working out the maths of whether I’d be able to complete the marathons. I thought, If we miss out one marathon I can do two in one day. Then I had to take a second day off, then a third.”
“I’ve been told since that if I’d continued it could have killed me. But I wasn’t feeling that as I ran. Apparently, you just carry on and then you drop dead. There you go.” Despite only completing four, Izzard still feels that he got a great sense that the country has come along way since apartheid. “It’s definitely in a better place,” he says. “There’s still a good deal of separation, but the black community are the people in political power. The fact that there was a black South African doctor giving me good advice in a hospital that was quite far out in the Eastern Cape, very much in the countryside; and the fact that young black comedians are doing very well in stand-up comedy and that scene’s growing; and the fact that I was doing gigs with both black and white people coming in: these are things that just wouldn’t have happened before.”
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Posted by Amy Power.