That day, for no particular reason, Rob Pope decided to go for a little run.
The 36-year-old from Liverpool, England, is channeling his inner Forrest Gump as he becomes the first man to run across America five times, following the exact route depicted in the 1994 Oscar-winning film that starred Tom Hanks.
“Most people’s favorite long-distance runner is Forrest Gump and I found an article debating whether [his route] was possible,” Pope told InsideEdition.com. “I think of myself as a scientist doing an experiment.”
Pope started running on Sept. 16, 2016 in Mobile, Ala., completing his cross-country run in at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, Calif. He later decided to do it all over again, taking only intermittent breaks from his usual 40 miles a day due to injury.
So far, Pope has run 14,000 miles, more than the distance between the North and South Pole, his website boasts.
“I’d always wanted to run,” he explained. “I’ve been talking about it for about 15 years before I actually started.”
Pope said he has always loved the movie, and admired the character.
“He’s just the way we should all be — he never judges people, he gets on with what he needs to get on to, he doesn’t let anyone stand in the way, and he’s very nice,” Pope said. “I tried to make sure when I was on the run, I always had time for people. I think it has actually made the run more bearable.”
But he said his biggest inspiration was his late mother, who always reminded him, “Do one thing in your life that’ll make a difference.”
“We were very tight-knit,” Pope said. “She was very protective and encouraging toward me. She was a bit of a runner herself, so when I took up running, I got a lot of support there. I’m sure she’s looking down from somewhere and is pretty appreciative of the efforts.”
Pope said his run was not without challenges. Just 400 miles into the first leg of his run, he said he got his first injury – tendonitis in the anterior tibial muscle.
“At the time, I thought that was it,” he said. “I had a full meltdown [at the gas station].”
He has also suffered a torn quad muscle, a hip and pelvic injury and even food poisoning.
He credited his quick recovery to locals, including a family in Alabama who insisted he stay at their place as they nursed him back to health.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate — I got sick in all the right places,” he joked. “It’s almost as if someone was looking over me.”
Pope started his final trip across America in January, and is currently home in Liverpool with his girlfriend Nadine, who is expected to give birth to their daughter in a week.
He said he plans to return to America to complete his trip in April, and estimates he only has a few days left before he crosses the country for the fifth time.
Pope hopes he can get enough people involved in his final few miles, to recreate the iconic scene in Forrest Gump with the crowd running alongside him. He also hopes his girlfriend and newborn daughter will be part of the crowd cheering him on.
Thanks to Inside Edition