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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Globetrotter Takes Long Way Around Iraq

CAIRO, Egypt -- Few things faze globetrotter Robert Garside, who has been jailed in China, shot at in Russia and chased by armed men in Mexico and Panama.

But when it came to the bubbling tensions in the Middle East, where war over Iraq looms, he decided to change course in his bid to become the first man to run around the world.

"The original plan was to go through Turkey and Iran, skirting around Iraq. But considering the political situation, I think the whole area is best avoided," Garside said.

Instead, the 36-year-old Briton, who began his quest on Oct. 17, 1997, has been running along the Nile in Egypt. He plans to take a boat from southern Egypt to Eritrea and continue his marathon from there.

"I did some research and asked the [British] Foreign Office. ... It seems many of the troubles in these [African] areas are tribal feuds and local tensions. Since I'm just an outsider, I should be fine," he said.

The Running Man, as he calls himself, has spent five days in a Chinese jail for having an invalid visa and "suspicious" videotaping activities and has been chased by armed men in South America on his record venture, which he said has involved running about 56,330 kilometers so far.

Garside first came up with the idea of running around the world in 1995.

"I was reading the Guinness Book of Records and came across an entry for a guy who had walked around the world and thought, 'Wow, what a journey. What would it be like to run it?' I guess I just wanted to escape," he said.

Garside progress is continually updated on his official web site, www.runningman.info.

By the time he finishes the journey, Garside aims to have exceeded the requirement set by the Guinness Book of Records.

"Guinness ask for a minimum of 18,000 miles [29,000 kilometers] across four continents. By the time I finish, I will have completed at least 40,000 miles across six continents," Garside said.

And as he nears the finishing line, the comforts of home have become more appealing. "I haven't been home in 5 1/2 years," he said wistfully.