In the spirit of Forrest Gump, the film character who was a war veteran in his own right and ran to the Santa Monica Pier, a group of Marines plans to complete a cross-country run to the same pier on Veterans Day Thursday, Nov. 11 in support of veterans.
Known as the “Gumpathon,” the run involves six men from Great Britain’s Royal Marines and the U.S. Marine Corps who are trying to raise funds for injured service men and women on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The team will have run 3,530 miles across the U.S. covering 16 states and four time zones. Each participant has run approximately 20 miles a day for eight weeks.
The Gumpathon will raise money for three service charities – the Royal Marine Charitable Trust Fund and Help for Heroes in the United Kingdom, and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund in the U.S. The team aims to raise $1.5 million for each of the charities
Event organizers noted how the runners have suffered a number of setbacks along the route, including a torn Achilles heel on one runner, causing the other runners to make up his mileage. Along their journey, the Marines have dealt with punishing climbs through mountain ranges, high temperatures and blistering heat from the tarmac, organizers said.
But the runners have been inspired to keep running by triple amputee Mark Ormrod, who was wounded while serving in Afghanistan. Ormrod, who became the first triple amputee of the war in Afghanistan, was the inspiration for this project, event organizers said.
“For me this was the chance to do something for our wounded servicemen and women and make a difference in their life,” said U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Charles ‘Chunks’ Padilla. “They need our help as they have given their all, so I hope that people who support this cause will donate and give something back to them.”
After the runners’ arrival, the team has been invited to join the Santa Monica Pier Route 66 celebrations where a part of the event will be dedicated to the Gumpathon in order to commemorate Veterans Day.
The runners are scheduled to arrive at the pier between 10:30 and 10:45 a.m. Nov. 11.