American student Barclay Oudersluys was trying to come up with something big and exciting to do. After seeing the movie ‘Forrest Gump”, in which the main character played by Tom Hanks runs across the USA, Oudersluys decided to do the same. “I figured if (Forrest Gump) could run across the country, I could run across the country.”

Tom Hanks/Forrest Gump running across the USA

Tom Hanks/Forrest Gump running across the USA

Oudersluys vs. Gump

Oudersluys vs. Forrest Gump

From Santa Monica pier to Marshal point lighthouse

He started his kickass cross-country run on the 9th of May 2015 from the same point that Forrest Gump departed in the movie: the Santa Monica pier in California.
His goal was to run an average of 32 miles a day to cover the roughly 3200 miles to reach his ‘Project Gump’ finish line at the Marshal point lighthouse in Port Clyde (Maine) after exactly 100 days.

Although the route covered by Tom Hanks’s character isn’t completely revealed in the movie, Barclay has managed to chart a course quite similar to it, by studying contextual clues from the movie. 


Inspired by Forrest Gump

“I don’t really know what made me want to do it. Forrest Gump is my favorite movie. And so when I decided to do this run, I looked up the two points where he had gone to and decided then to it myself. After all Forrest Gump when asked why he was running across the country also replied with “I don’t know, I just felt like running”

The course he’s charted with the movie’s clues took Oudersluys through California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Raising money for charity

With his mammoth run Oudersluys raised money for the charity the Hall Steps Foundation, a charity founded by a husband-and-wife team of professional runners, that promotes fitness and raises money to help impoverished people around the world.

Project Gump fundraiser

Before he began the project, Oudersluys was in an excellent physical shape having run 50- and 100-mile ultra-marathons, and completed an iron man triathlon.

project gump, just before departure form the Santa Monica pier

project gump, just before departure form the Santa Monica pier

He said that to him, the challenge was less about physical prowess – he has run consistently at about nine minutes per mile, an easy pace for an experienced runner like himself.

“I think it’s all mental. It’s just, do you want to do it and stay focused and put the work in?”

Each day he rises about 5:30 a.m. and hits the road by about 6 a.m., finishing his 30 or more miles by about 1 p.m., he said.

project gump1 project gump

To keep up the pace, he must eat about 4,000 to 5,000 calories each day.

Since he began his run, Oudersluys has suffered no substantial injuries. He was clipped once by a passing car, but suffered only a small cut on his wrist, he said.

Running-related aches have been minimal, he said, with only infrequent bouts of tendinitis and blisters, and a recent but minor calf strain.

Helping him along the way have been countless people who have given him places to stay, arrangements that were often cobbled together a day or two before he would arrive in someone’s town.

From running to driving

Oudersluys had a support van following him all along the way. It was driven by about a half-dozen people for a few weeks at a time, arranging a place to meet halfway through each day’s run providing him with food, drinks and shelter in the case of bad weather.

On the 15th of August 2015, after having ran for 100 days straight he reached his end goal of  Marshal point lighthouse in Port Clyde (Maine) exactly on time.

project gump, finish line

Oudersluys at the finish line: the marshal point lighthouse

After a short celebration there was no time to waste as Oudersluys had to return to California to start his Law degree at the university of Berkeley. So he jumped behind the wheel of the support vehicle and did the entire cross-country trip over in a roadtrippin variant.