Robert Pope of Liverpool, England,is the real-life Forrest Gump who is running across America for Charity. Unlike the fictional Forrest, Robert may not have had a spot on the All-American Ping Pong team or initiated Watergate, but comes just about as close to Forrest Gump as a person can get. For the past seven months, the 38-year-old veterinarian has been running across the United States, tracing the exact same route Gump did in the 1994 Tom Hanks classic. So much is the likeliness that he’s even sporting the signature beard and red baseball hat.

Pope started in Gump’s home state- Alabama, then ran to California, New Mexico, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington D.C. before working his way up the east coast for the Boston Marathon, which he completed in 2:58:46 with a can of Budweiser Light in hand for half of the way.
But why has he been running this vast distance? Besides the movie being one of his favorites-he’s watched the entire movie 10 times and the running scene about 100 times-Pope actually wanted to raise money for causes that meant something to him.

“I’ve always wanted to run across America because I’ve always been intrigued by the culture, music, movies, and people in the states,” Pope told Runner’s World. “I knew I wanted to raise money for charity, so I thought I might as well take it all a step further.”

He chose organizations, The World Wildlife Fund and Peace Direct because they reflect his own values and successfully managed to raise funds.It’s however no accident that these two organizations cover all the topics Gump was asked if he was running for: world peace, women’s rights, the homeless, the environment, and animals. Besides this, Pope also wanted to prove the theories wrong that Gump’s run wasn’t possible.

“I can be in the middle of nowhere and still bond with people over this movie, because everyone has seen it.” And this interaction with everyone he meets has been Pope’s favorite part about his journey so far.

He has managed to run over 5,600 miles and raised $11,203.91 (£8,761.95) so far, and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Right now he’s headed to the Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde, Maine, and hopes to get there by the end of this week. From there on, he’ll turn back around to run across the country for a third consecutive time, aiming to land in Chicago come June. But he’s currently still in the Boston area after re-running the marathon route again

Pope is most looking forward to running the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he’ll recreate this iconic scene:

“Forrest Gump was just out there doing his own thing,” Pope said. “Everyone was like, ‘so you just ran?’ and he was like, ‘yeah.’ So I’m channeling that.”


Feature Image Courtesy: Runners World

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