I am going to tell you a story. Mind you, this is really not my story to tell, but I will share it nonetheless. Many of my stories are vicarious views through windows into others lives, served up through my somewhat twisted lens. Few would disagree that my perspective can be awry.
Disclaimer: While I usually use only my own photos, in this post I have borrowed a number of photos from others in order to tell this story.
Anyway, this is a story about a guy, a particularly nice guy, who also happens to be a runner. Let’s not hold that against him. After all, I have run most of my life, with countless early morning runs, a whole bunch of 10K’s, and even a marathon (Marine Corps Marathon) in the mix. Impressive, you say! I want to thank my sneakers, my running shorts, and all those early morning newspaper delivery people who actually did not bean me in the head as they were delivering their early morning news to sleep deprived suburbanites.
OK, back to the Guy. I first saw this guy running. Not just running, but running over the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park last year as we were returning from our trip to Alaska. Not for nothing, but this road has an elevation gain of about 3,300 feet – easy when you are driving; not so easy when you are running.
This particular guy caught my attention because as I was driving by he gave me a cheery smile and a hearty wave. Runners are generally a different breed; they are introverts and wouldn’t normally wave to save their soul. So this guy had my attention.
But that wasn’t the only thing that struck me. This guy was a scraggly sort. I mean scraggly. His hair was long and unkempt under his ball cap (well, he was running after all), and he had this wild beard that obviously hadn’t seen a trimmer in a very long time – like ever. But with his piercing smile and a twinkle in his eye, I couldn’t help but return the wave and continue on my self-absorbed journey to find the mother of all photographs.
Fast-forward – it is now a few hours later and I am standing by our camper having an adult beverage, known in many parts of the world as a cold beer.
Walking towards me in the campground, with his companion Nadine, comes the Guy! So in my efforts to get out of my introverted shell, and sharing a common interest in running, I say to the guy, how far did you run today? He smiles and says, oh about 43 miles. Truly, this is my first beer, but I quite smartly say something brilliant like WTF! Yup, 43 miles. Running. Up and down mountains. At elevation.
Like Paul Harvey on the radio would say, now the rest of the story…
It turns out that the Guy (and it turns out he has a real name as well – Rob Pope is his name), a Liverpool (UK) native, is in the midst of running across the US! Well, that doesn’t really capture it. At this point he is actually on his 3rd trip running across the country, running on average about 40 miles per day, and will actually run across the US five times before he is finished, recreating the run of Forrest Gump. Me? I’ve got nothing. Nada. Emptiness.
I ran a marathon once, a long time ago. Big freaking deal! This guy will run the equivalent of well over 550 marathons, more than 15,000 miles! He is basically running an ultra marathon every day! Holy crap! And he is not hobbling along. While you wouldn’t know it from talking to him, this veterinarian won the Australian Marathon Championship in 2015, won the Liverpool Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in 2015 and 2016, and has run the Boston Marathon in under 3 hours (ahem, he stopped for a lunch break and a cold beer).
It is now about 5 months later from when we first met Rob at Glacier and he is still running. He is about 15-20% of the way across his 5th crossing of the US, headed west towards Monument Valley in Utah (where Forrest Gump ended his run – “I’m pretty tired; I think I’ll go home now.”).
Nadine is back in the UK 7 months pregnant (apparently running wasn’t Rob’s only activity), so Rob has an extra incentive to finish the run in mid March to get back in time for the birth of their first child.
Rob is passionate about his running, but he is as equally passionate about the two causes he is raising awareness and funds for: Peace Direct and The World Wildlife Fund.
When I realized that Rob was coming through Georgia, I reached out to him and begged him to stay with us if he could/would. We have been honored to share our home with Rob and provide him a tiny bit of support in his efforts.
Years ago in my working days, I would tell anyone who would listen that my three goals were to 1) have fun, 2) make money, and 3) make a difference. Exactly ZERO people actually cared about my goals but it was meaningful for me. Which is why I think Rob resonates for me. He wants to make a difference, he is raising money for good causes that he cares about, and for sure he is having fun.
So if you don’t have a Lieutenant Dan or a Bubba in your life, go rent Forrest Gump again (it may be a top 5 all time great movie IMHO). And throw a little something towards Rob’s charities (Peace Direct and World Wildlife Fund).
He and Nadine are an absolutely charming couple, great fun to be around, and we wish them nothing but the best.
You can follow Rob’s adventures on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/runroblarun/?hc_ref=ARQVdj3K58CXHOhJqKxC8J-tgSI-H0N-qv4vAXFawVFYfE4PuCx9EjJWXMT532RGyG8&fref=nf), and be sure to watch some of his videos – they are a hoot!
It was 28 degrees this morning but we sent Rob on his way – heading towards Alabama, Mississippi, Memphis and beyond…
Watch his efforts, and stay tuned for his run in Monument Valley in early/mid March.
Run, Robla run! If you see Rob on the road, give him a wave and say hey!