Rob Pope is the real life Forrest Gump. He is the first person ever to run across the United States of America four times in one year and has run over 15,000 miles so far on his journey. I managed to catch up with Rob to ask him about this incredible adventure and the causes for which he is raising money and awareness.
How would you describe the moment when you decided to embark on this incredible journey?
There wasn't one distinct moment when I decided to do the run - it was an idea that developed over a long time. It changed from a single crossing of the USA to multiple when I became more motivated by the desire to make a difference and to do something special for my two charities, the World Wildlife Fund and Peace Direct.
About 300 people have run across America, so while that's impressive, it isn't unique. However, no-one had done the exact route that Forrest Gump ran (apart from Forrest, obviously.) My aim was to see if it was possible for a mere mortal to achieve and to take people along with me for the ride, even in just a virtual sense.
I was excited when I started, but I'm not one to get in over my head, so I was pretty calm and just started running.
How does this type of ultra running differ from running your average city marathon? How do you hydrate and fuel?
They're completely different beasts. I'd be more nervous at the start line of a marathon than another trans-continental run. I run a lot slower and with a different, lower vertical oscillation gait and I'm taking photos left, right and centre and I'm happy to chat to passersby. That's what's coolest about America: the people.
My nutrition was based on the "see-food" diet. See it, eat it. Hot dogs, chocolate, crisps, donuts, fizzy drinks, fast food. There was the occasional bit of oatmeal and I tried to either have a protein shake or a good bit of milk each day to ensure I was getting something other than carbs and fat. I didn't lose any weight on the run and only got food poisoning once, so I was obviously doing something right.
What keeps you going on your darkest days?
I just didn't entertain the idea of quitting. I'd have had to have been carried off the road injured or completely penniless. I funded the first three-and-a-half legs myself with life savings that should have gone on a house deposit, after the hoped-for sponsor didn't materialise. Finances were a constant source of stress.
The weather and finding places to stay and eat were variably involved in busting my chops and the constant threat of an overuse injury was always there - sometimes physically, sometimes mentally. I'm also not a morning person, so waking up in a tent in minus temperatures knowing I have to run 40 miles isn't exactly the greatest. I coped by just telling myself that I had to do it, removing the choice, and once I'd done that it was "easy".
I'd focus on short and mid term goals, ranging from crossing a state line to getting excited about lunch. I always had the big picture in mind, which was the finish and my fundraising efforts. My charities never stop, and neither do the problems they deal with, so why should I?
What has been the highlight so far?
Too many to mention. The start, Crazy Al's bar in Louisiana (A Cajun Cheers), running across Texas at its widest point, my U2 pilgrimage from Joshua Tree National Park to the actual Joshua Tree in Death Valley (where it snowed!) then seeing them at the midpoint of my third leg in Chicago perform the Joshua Tree in full.
Reaching the oceans: first in Santa Monica surrounded by friends; second at Marshall Point Lighthouse in the mist with a good buddy and me in floods of tears, the third in Bandon, Oregon, becoming the first person to run across the States three times in a year, then becoming the Oregon state 10k champion the next day.
Heading home for Christmas after reaching the fourth in Beaufort, South Carolina, where a large part of Forrest Gump was filmed...then the end. We all know that was the best marriage proposal ever.
How has the reception been by the people in America? How do locals receive you when you run through their small towns and suburbs?
People in America have been incredible from start to finish. I can count the number of bad eggs on one hand and I've met thousands of people in total. I would have liked a bit more company running, but hey, maybe it was cooler to do it alone! People along the route have offered me rides to my destination (which I could never accept), bought me dinner, and even put me up for a night or more, in some cases, taking me to and from a stop/start point. I've met so may interesting people and heard stories you'd never believe!
Do you think Tom Hanks will reach out off the back of this incredible feat? How would you react if he did?
Unfortunately I didn't get to run with Tom - I'd love to know what he thought of the run - even whether he knew about it!
Maybe there's still time... I have to admit, I'd love to meet him one day, he seems like a really nice guy and I'd love to share a story or two with him.
Is it tough running dressed as Forrest Gump? Do the vintage running shoes give you blisters?
It's tough running 40 miles a day, of course, but I didn't have too many problems with blisters. In the first few weeks, I developed large blisters on the soles of both feet, which took up about a third of the sole, but they soon went and my feet were pretty hardy after that.
In terms of other injuries, I had tendinitis in both my anterior tibialis and my achilles, tore a quad muscle, had a painful condition called piriformis syndrome, a groin strain which went chronic, and 5 days of food poisoning. Blisters were the least of my worries!
What was it like running the London marathon as Forrest Gump?
I've actually run two marathons as Forrest, the Boston marathon and London. I'm going to do Berlin as well - I should just go nuts and do Tokyo, New York and Chicago and become the first Forrest to do the Abbott World Marathon Majors series!
Running the London and Boston Marathons were amazing experiences and both were very different. Boston was more fun as I just started that jogging and had a beer at mile 11, before I decided to go quickly and got in under three hours. I was flying at the end and probably looked quite a lot like Forrest in his college days.
London had more pressure as I was trying to break the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon as a film character and I felt that I wasn't really in the kind of shape to do that.
I managed to pull it off though, with a time of 2:36:24 and afterwards got to meet Mo Farah and Eliud Kipchoge, the winner. The crowds were amazing in both and I reckon only the winners had more cheers than "Forrest" on the way round. I'd recommend it to anyone!
Can you describe some of the other life-changing experiences you've had while embarking upon this adventure?
The whole run was potentially life-changing, but I still think I'm the same person I was when I started. I wanted to make a difference then and I do now, but the wealth of experiences have enriched me somewhat. I learnt about how kind people can be if you manage to engage with them, how we should break down the barriers that keep us apart.
For example, I was frequently told not to go to certain areas as they are dangerous, or had surprise expressed when I met someone in one of these areas. We're all just people and it's the belief that some areas are full of good people and some with bad people that is the most dangerous thing in society today, along with the associated wealth gap. I saw some terribly poor areas within a mile of huge gated communities full of castle-sized houses. I mean, that can't be right, can it?
Not that this changed me,per se, as I like to hope I was like this before, but it certainly affirmed my belief that if you WANT to help, you can. When we were in Arkansas, we encountered a starving stray dog who was super friendly. After all local houses said they didn't know whose dog it was and after being told it would probably get shot to put it out of its misery, my girlfriend and I took her in and named her Hope, after the town we found her in.
With help from the local community and veterinary hospital we got her to a local animal sanctuary from where she was eventually re-homed to Massachusetts, where she still lives now. It's so easy to turn away from a problem, but so rewarding to get stuck into one. Don't look away next time!
What's next for you?
Well, being a dad to my new daughter and getting married are my two main priorities now, but running-wise, Berlin marathon is on the cards for September, after competing in the Red Bull Quicksand event. I have a few other VERY cool things up my sleeve too, but you'll just have to stay tuned for that.
You can do that by following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching @runroblarun and by visiting my website Going The Distance Run where you can also donate to my two amazing charities - the WWF and Peace Direct.
Please do - I'm so close to my fundraising target!
Wimbledon is a globally recognised tennis tournament held in London, England and attracts celebrities and sports fans alike to watch world-class athletes battle for the title of Wimbledon Tennis Champion.
What date is Wimbledon 2018?
The annual tennis championships held at Wimbledon will run from Monday 2nd July 2018 until Sunday 15th July 2018.
The tennis championship at Wimbledon is one of four international Grand Slam tournaments, the other three being the Australian Open, the French Open, and the US Open.
The Australian Open was held from 15th January to 28th January 2018, the French Open took place 27th May to 10th June and the US Open is the last to take place chronologically, being held 27th August to 11th September.
The Wimbledon tennis tournament is held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, a district of south west London in England, UK. The courts are all grass and played mostly outdoors, although some of the courts have roofs which can be activated in the case of bad weather. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tennis event still held on grass courts.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is a private members' club and was founded in the summer of 1868 when the then-popular game of croquet was at its peak. The game of lawn tennis had only been introduced in England a year earlier and a single lawn of the club was set aside for this new game.
Ironically, the first ever winner of Wimbledon, Spencer Gore, is quoted as saying, "lawn tennis will never rank among our great games." Oh how wrong he was, as the annual tennis championship is now watched by nearly 7 million people around the world.
The nickname SW19 is often applied to this event as this is the postcode (area code) associated with the geographic location of Wimbledon within London.
As is the case every year, Serena Williams is the one to watch in the ladies' matches. Serena and her sister Venus are two of the most famous female sportspeople in the world and are amazing role models for women around the world in this hugely male-dominated industry. Serena won her first major tennis championship in 1999 at the age of 19 and has gone on to win a record-breaking 23 Grand Slam titles over the course of her career.
Her sister Venus has achieved 7 Grand Slam titles and has redefined the sport of tennis with her strength, determination, and pure grit.
Among the men, the top players are Swiss Roger Federer, Serbian Novak Djokovic, and Brit Andy Murray. Roger Federer is thought to be the highest earning tennis player thanks to his elusive sponsorship deals with Rolex, Credit Suisse, Moet & Chandon, as well as a new £230m deal with Uniqlo clothing, setting his net worth at roughly £343.5m.
Why do players wear white at Wimbledon?
Wimbledon is renowned for its strict rules and traditions. As an historically British event, it is always attended by the Royal family and it has a famously strict dress code for players.
All players at Wimbledon's tennis tournament are required to wear all-white or at least almost all-white sports clothing. This dates back to when the Victorians believed white to look cleaner when the wearer is sweaty. It was particularly applied to women, as it was deemed unacceptable for a woman to be seen perspiring.
Players are allowed a single trim of colour on their clothing and are allowed a small amount of branding from pre-approved sponsors.
How much is Wimbledon prize money?
The total prize pot for Wimbledon 2018 has increased and it is announced to stand at £34 million.
The men's and women's champions each win £2.25 million, an increase from £2.2 million last year.
The Gentlemen’s Doubles and Ladies’ Doubles will meanwhile win £450k, an increase from £400k in 2017 and £350k the year before.
The Mixed Doubles champions stand to earn £110k, an increase on the £100k handed out to the 2015, 2016 and 2017 winners.
The History Of Wimbledon
The Championships, Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world standing at 141 years old having started in 1877. The first ever Wimbledon event had only one game - the Gentleman's singles. It is now host to four junior and four invitation competitions alongside five main contests.
In 1967, this famous tennis tournament made history by being the first broadcast to ever be televised in colour.
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Hello, my name’s Matt Boyles, I’m a Personal Trainer based in South West London – I’m also proud to be a Sundried Ambassador. In addition to this, I run the Male FitWear Style Blog, Xythlete (www.instagram.com/XYthlete) but today I’m going to talk about my other company, Wireless Fitness.
You might not know the name, but you’ve probably come across the concept in the last couple of years: silent disco fitness. You might even have seen us on Dragon’s Den 18 months ago…!
With my business partner Dom, we realised that fitness instructors needed to be able to run their music-based classes in the park, however, council noise restrictions mean you can’t just play music out loud via a speaker. So we took the best parts of silent discos (lots of people hearing the same music through wireless headphones), and made it better by adding a microphone to the transmitter, meaning that with our Wireless Fitness kit, instructors can now speak to their class and transmit music at the same time, in crystal clarity, without disturbing anyone nearby.
We sell the equipment to fitness instructors and boot camp owners who want to add a major USP to their classes in a cluttered market. We also sell lots of kits to Spin studios and gyms (often in residential areas) who have had, or are nervous about receiving noise complaints – once they use the equipment, it reduces the risk of being shut down by the council to 0. Our third main customers are instructors who are tired of paying £60 to hire a studio every time they want to teach: grab our kit, head outside and away you go – better still, they never have to turn away anyone from a full studio!
As I’m a Personal Trainer and I love music – I really love music – it made sense for me to start running my own class with the kit as well… So I did!
I curate amazing, themed playlists each week, covering musical themes such as animals, Easter, one-name musical icons (e.g. Cher, Coolio (!) Prince, Lorde, Rihanna, Madonna) and most recently, summer (and amazingly it didn’t rain during that class).
As a nice extra benefit to attending the class, I send out the playlist each week, so the members can re-live it in their kitchens the next day!
What I love about running the class is the energy I get back from the attendees. The class itself is a high energy mix of strength training, HIIT and a bit of endurance, so it really works you hard all over, however everyone always says the headphones distract you from the exhaustion, while simultaneously helping you work a bit harder – it’s win-win.
We’ve got a great group of regulars now; it’s a really friendly bunch with no attitude, just supportive people enjoying getting fit in the sun with amazing music and my terrible puns.
However, there is always space for a few more, if you would like to come down and try it out, it’s just £10 for the best hour of exercise in the UK – email me on email@example.com if you’d like to know more beforehand.