Rob Pope, a 39-year-old veteran from Liverpool, in the UK, spent over a year of his life recreating Forrest Gump’s epic coast-to-coast trek across the United States, an amazing four times. He quit his job in order to complete this monumental challenge in four stages, and has been running an average of 40 miles a day through blistering heat, torrential rain and weather so cold it froze his beard. Despite suffering several major physical injuries throughout his epic run, and repetition and loneliness straining his mental health, Pope says quitting was never an option.
The Liverpool native had always dreamed of running across America, but after seeing the 1994 film Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks, he knew how he was going to do it too – by recreating Forrest Gum’s epic run.
Most people would have spent a while training before becoming the first to recreate Gump’s journey in real life, but the fictional character just started running one day, and Pope decided he should do the same. Looking back, he wishes he’d thought things through a bit better, as the lack of training led to a series of serious injuries, from an inflamed Achilles tendon to a quadriceps tear, but in a way he is also happy to have stayed true to the character.
Rob began his run on the west coast, wearing Forrest Gump’s iconic plaid shirt and chino shorts, but he has since had to change his wardrobe several times to suit different weather conditions. He did try to stay as true to the character he was attempting to emulate though, so for the last part of the run, Rob put on a ‘Bubba-Gump’ hat and let his beard grow long.
Over the last two years, Rob Pope has been documenting his epic run on social media, staying in touch with his fans and posting photos at various important landmarks, including some featured in Forrest Gump. Fans who recognized him as the real-life Forrest Gump helped push him on by chanting ‘run, Forrest, run’ as he passed by them.
“So far I’ve surpassed the supposed number of miles Forrest achieved – 15,248, by about a hundred or so. By the end I’d have run nearly 15,600,” Rob Pope said. “I think the film – and specifically the character of Forrest – is a beautiful tale of life and how we should treat one another. Forrest didn’t judge anyone, not on the colour of their skin, background, intelligence or anything else. If everyone could be a bit more like Forrest, the world would be a better place.
Rob still has 200 miles to go in order to reach the final destination on his gigantic itinerary, which he plans on doing on April 29th. For now, he’s flown back to Liverpool to by by his wife’s side when she gives birth to their daughter. They will fly back to the US next month, and hope to finish the last leg of his epic run together.