Guy Dressed As Forrest Gump Raises £50k For Charity Running Round America Five Times

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The film Forrest Gump gave us a lot of catchphrases, one of the most memorable being ‘run Forrest, run!’ Taking inspiration from the movie, one man did just that by recreating Forrest’s route, raising £50k for charity as he did so.

Rob Pope set out to follow Forrest’s famous path across the United States to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund and Peace Direct, running day in, day out as he crossed the states five times in 15,607 miles, becoming the first person to cross the US on foot four times in one year.

The determined Liverpudlian took on the enormous challenge after being inspired by his mother, who told Rob before she died to ‘do one thing in your life that makes a difference’.

Take a look at Rob’s story and donate here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLAGd8H8QoM&feature=youtu.be

While Forrest changed some people’s lives along his route, like inspiring the creations of the smiley face t-shirt and the slogan ‘sh*t happens’, he was simply running because he felt like it.

Rob also felt like running – I don’t think you’d volunteer to take on a challenge like that if you didn’t – but took the opportunity to make a difference in the world while he was at it.

Speaking to UNILAD, Rob explained:

The Forrest idea came about in the process of planning as I’d wanted to do as well as possible for my two charities, the World Wildlife Fund and Peace Direct.

In the film, when Forrest runs over the Mississippi for the fourth time, he gets chased by reporters who ask him why he is running. He’s asked if he’s running for world peace, the homeless, women’s rights, the environment or animals.

My two charities encompass all of these things and they blow me away and provide a great source of motivation every time I read about their work. I just want to help how I can.

He later told UNILAD:

I figured I’d just run as fast as I could for as long as I could.

Understandably, there were days during Rob’s incredible mission where he woke up and really didn’t feel like running 40 miles. I’m sure most of us feel that way all the time. He admitted that he wasn’t a morning person and actually felt like quitting every day.

However, Rob, who is a veterinarian by trade, was driven by his end goal of doing something memorable, which spurred him on even when he felt injured, tired, hungry or cold.

He explained:

I made things better by removing the element of choice from the equation. I became my own tough boss, and so once I knew I had to do it then it wasn’t a problem.

Look for your own inner motivation, you’ll always find something.

Take a look at some clips and pictures from Rob’s incredible accomplishment:

Rob followed Forrest’s route from ocean to ocean, and made the feat even more authentic by wearing similar outfits to the ones seen in the movie.

The inspirational man had Forrest’s classic Bubba Gump Shrimp hat and even avoided stopping for a haircut or shave throughout the journey, turning himself into the much-loved movie character himself.

Rob explained how people recognised him as Forrest, saying:

People saw the hat and saw the beard, and then they thought ‘guy running, beard, hat, it must be Forrest Gump’.

I saw a little kid in LA who was just coming out of school, he pointed at the cap and he was just like ‘oh my God you’re actually Forrest Gump!’

Rob has had to put more than just his muscles in to the 15,000 mile journey, and admitted himself and his partner Nadine invested their life savings in the run, giving up their house deposit for the good of raising money for charity.

The marathon runner explained that the sacrifices made were outweighed by the highlights of his journey, many of which came in the form of friendly, supportive people who ‘renewed [Rob’s] faith in humanity.’

Rob said:

There were so many special people that I met. Not even in person, I had really big online fans, and the comments that they gave me were just really inspiring.

I’ve learnt that we don’t need to make America great again. It’s alright as it is.

If you want to achieve something big you’ve got to make sacrifices, haven’t you? Just accept them.

Rob spoke to the BBC about some of the kind things people did for him along the way, like donating food and offering him a place to sleep.

The runner recalled:

I knocked on one house in Tennessee and asked the guy if I could camp in his back garden for the night. When he asked if I had any weapons I told him I carried nothing other than the razor sharp British wit – to which he responded, ‘I carry plenty,’ and pulled a carving knife out from behind his back.

But instead of using it, he invited me in, cooked me chilli and let me stay in his camping trailer.

American kindness at its finest!

Rob shared pictures of his progress online, holding up signs which recorded his distance and added how much further he had to go using the hashtag ‘#RunRoblaRun’.

At 2,000 miles, Rob impressively stated he wasn’t tired yet, and so wouldn’t be going home. He said there were roughly 200 miles to go until he hit the ocean, but if you’ve seen Forrest Gump, you’ll know that’s no excuse for stopping.

Speaking about what would happen when he made it to the coast, Rob said:

After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

Rob’s mammoth journey took him over 400 days, and he made sure to finish it with a bang. While I’m sure anyone would consider dropping to their knees after running for so long, Rob dropped down on to one and proposed to his girlfriend.

When he completed the run in March this year, he shared a picture of his final total on Twitter and put the incredible distance in to perspective, writing:

15,000 miles. 2500 x height of #Everest, a 15th of the way to the #moon, 4 x as long as the #Amazon and #GreatWall of China, 5.5 x the distance from #LA to #NYC…or…this run, consisting of 400 days of rubber on tarmac. 37.5 miles a day.

Rob has been nominated for a 2018 Pride of Britain award for his achievements, which he announced on Twitter:

An incredible honour! Chuffed to announce that I’ve been nominated for the ITV Fundraiser of the Year as part of the @PrideOfBritain Awards!

You’d think jogging across America multiple times would be enough to put anyone off running for a while, but as well as juggling fatherhood and planning his wedding, Rob is intending to take part in a 152 mile race across the Sahara Desert.

The impressive runner even took part in the London Marathon in the midst of his American adventure, when he took a break (if you could call it that) and flew home to witness the birth of his daughter.

At the marathon he once again channelled his inner Forrest and dressed as the character to complete the race while continuing to raise money for Peace Direct and WWF.

Rob finished the marathon in a stunning 2 hours and 36 minutes and smashed the world record for the fastest runner dressed as a film character while he was at it.

Credit where credit is due – Rob is an incredible man.

Take a look at an interview taken with Rob taken just after he completed the London Marathon:

The Liverpudlian has so far raised about £50,000 for charity, but his minimum goal is £100,000. While that is a jaw dropping amount of money to give to charity, Rob is dreaming big and asked ‘why can’t we get a million?’

He continued:

There’s people in the world who are having a hellish time, and animals as well, so if I can do something here that people will recognise and see, then we can go and do the good work where it’s really needed.

For someone who took on Forrest’s iconic 15,000 mile run and succeeded, I don’t think he’ll be giving up on his £1 million goal before he reaches it!

Rob took a story of fiction and made it real life; he overcame the days when that next 40 miles seemed impossible and proved to everyone that you can always achieve your goals with enough determination.

Rob is truly incredible – take a look at his website and donate here.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.