BOGOTA, Colombia — He came. He saw. And then he hightailed it back over the border to Venezuela.

Robert Garside, a British man trying to become the first to run the length of the Earth's continents, opted to detour around violence-wracked Colombia.

"I just can't warrant the risk," the 33-year-old said from Maracaibo, the Venezuelan city to which he scampered last weekend after a brief foray into seemingly hostile Colombian territory.

"I wanted to see what the score was with my own two eyes, and I've seen it," Garside said.

The decision to bypass this turbulent nation capped an agonizing month for the runner, who in three years has already hoofed 20,000 miles across Australia, Asia, Europe and most of South America.

"I feel very relieved," said Garside, the world long-distance running champion who calls himself The Running Man on his Web site.

"Now I can get on with what I'm supposed to be doing, which is running."

The Running Man planned to fly from Venezuela to Panama, and continue from there on his planned five-year journey. When he gets through Central America, he'll have three continents to go: North America, Africa and Antarctica.

Garside arrived in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, in early April after an 11-month transcontinental run that began in Chile.

He spent the next few weeks resting, buying new clothes and camera equipment, and reading menacing reports of the mayhem in Colombia.

"There were just too many machine guns," said Garside, who was shot at in Russia, robbed in Brazil, and jailed in China.