Robert Pope (runner)

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Pope in 2021

Robert Pope (born 1977) is a British veterinarian, athlete, author and charity fundraiser. He is an elite distance runner, with a number of successes at the marathon and ultramarathon distances. In 2016 he began a 422-day, 15,700-mile run comprising more than 4 complete crossings of the United States, and became the first person to trace the route run by Tom Hanks' fictional character in the film Forrest Gump. He raised approximately £38,000 for the charities Peace Direct and the World Wildlife Fund.

Early life and education[edit]

Pope was born and grew up in Croxteth, Liverpool.[1] From 1996 to 2010 he attended the Royal Veterinary College, London, gaining a BVetMed(Hons.), a BScVetPath(Hons.) and finally a PhD in Veterinary Medicine.[2] He has since worked as an emergency veterinarian.

Competitive running career[edit]

At age 37, Pope became the Australian Marathon Champion at the 2015 Australian Athletics Championships[3] with a time of 2:29:59.[4] He subsequently won the Liverpool Rock'n'Roll Marathon in both 2015 and 2016, the latter with a personal best time of 2:27:13.[5][6] Pope holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as a film character, set for running the 2018 London Marathon in a time of 2:36:28 (finishing 82 overall) while dressed as Forrest Gump.[7][8]

In 2019, Pope competed in the 6-day Marathon des Sables ultramarathon, covering 156 miles (250 km) across the Sahara Desert while carrying all food. He finished 14th overall.[9]

"Forrest Gump" run and charity fundraising[edit]

In 2016, Pope quit his job as an emergency veterinarian and began his Forrest Gump run which would see him run across the United States of America more than four complete times, in a bid to recreate the 15,300-mile route run by Tom Hanks' fictional character.[10][11][12] On May 11, 2018, after 422 days of running, he became the first person to complete this route, as well as the first person to cross the US four times on foot.[13] Pope is estimated to have run 15,607 miles (approximately 600 marathons), made more than 24 million total steps and averaged 37 miles a day.[14] Included in these totals are the Boston,[15] Manchester, Brighton[16] and London[7][8] marathons, completed during various breaks within the 422-day period. His first act on completion of his run was to propose to his girlfriend, Nadine Strawbridge,[17] who was waiting with their newborn daughter, Bee[13]

Pope sought sponsorship for the Forrest Gump run, raising nearly £38,000 for the charities Peace Direct and the World Wildlife Fund.[18] In recognition of his charitable efforts, Pope attended Prince Charles' 70th birthday celebrations.[19]

Pope's self-penned book recounting of his American run, "Becoming Forrest: One Man's Epic Run Across American", was published by Harper Collins in 2021.[20]


  1. ^ Fitzsimmons, Francesca (17 September 2016). "Watch Croxteth vet's story as he starts Forrest Gump run across America". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Robert Pope, LinkedIn".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Mudie, Ben. "Rob Pope Australian Marathon Champion". Western Athletics. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Werribee's 'unexpected' marathon champ". Star Weekly. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  5. ^ McHale, Kirsty (29 May 2016). "Thousands run in the sun for Liverpool Rock'n'Roll Marathon". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Liverpudlian Celebrates Birthday by Winning Rock 'n' Roll Marathon". Liverpool Express. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  7. ^ a b "This Guy Has Nearly Completed Forrest Gump's Five Runs Across America". 22 April 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b "A man dressed as Forrest Gump just broke a London Marathon record". indy100. 22 April 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Ranking edition 2019 | MARATHON DES SABLES". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Going the Distance". Going the Distance. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  11. ^ White, Catriona (21 April 2017). "Meet the real-life Forrest Gump who 'just felt like running'". BBC Three. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Runner beats epic Forrest Gump 'record'". 23 March 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  13. ^ a b "British man runs 15,000 miles across the US to recreate Forrest Gump's route". Metro. 24 May 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Real-life Forrest Gump re-creates the character's epic run across America". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  15. ^ "'Forrest Gump' successfully runs the Boston Marathon — with a beer - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  16. ^ "Brighton Marathon Programme 2019" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "Man dressed as Forrest Gump proposes to girlfriend after recreating run across U.S." al. 15 May 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Robert Pope Going The Distance Fundraising Page". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Real-life Forest Gump recreates the movie by running 15,000 miles across the US". Heart. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  20. ^ Pope, Rob (14 October 2021). Becoming Forrest: One Man's Epic Run Across America. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-00-847251-1.