On the road with six Forrest Gumps

Simon Rice
mark 300x201 On the road with six Forrest Gumps

Mark's mile in Maryland

Whether it’s the romanticism created by books like On The Road or the wonder that comes with a trip into the unknown, travelling coast to coast across the United States is a journey with an enduring appeal.

Yet for the Gumpathon team who are journeying from New York to Los Angeles on foot, the romanticism and wonder is understandably fading. Those feelings have been replaced by blisters, soaring temperatures, various time zones, five mountain ranges and a stray dog – and they’re only halfway.

Six servicemen are running the 3,530 miles to raise funds for injured service men and women on both sides of the Atlantic. By the time they reach their destination they hope to have raised £1m for three service charities, in the UK – The Royal Marine Charitable Trust Fund and Help for Heroes and The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund in The States.

This challenge is the brain-child of Colour Sergeant Damian Todd, a Royal Marine who, after watching the film Forrest Gump (hence Gumpathon) in 1996 thought that running across America seemed like an interesting idea. After twelve years of thinking about it, in 2008 Damian found a reason to put his plan into action when a close friend Mark Ormrod was left with serious permanent disability following his tour in Afghanistan. Mark became the first triple amputee of the war in Afghanistan and is running a mile a day with the team. Mark says, “Although we are halfway and my running has improved quite a bit my body feels like it’s been hit been hit by a train physically the whole team are struggling but mentally we are pulling each other through the longs and nights.”

US Marine Gunnery Sergeant Charles ‘Chunks’ Padilla urges the US and UK to unite to support this incredible cause, “Take time to think about the Marines and Sailors that are fighting for your country, defending our way of life. For some it’s a minute thought, for others we adore and love our troops. So this is a chance to do something for our wounded servicemen and women and make a difference in their life, they need our help. They have given their all can you please give something back to them.”

Having reached the halfway point of Oklahoma City, the Gumpathon team have produced a video giving an insight into their journey. You can watch it below. And for further information on the challenge and details of how to donate visit

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