College Grad Running Across Country in Forrest Gump’s Footsteps

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barclay oudersluys, college runner, forrest gump, hall steps foundation, run across the united states

While some college students choose to take time between graduation and entering the working world to volunteer or travel around the world, recent University of Michigan grad Barclay Oudersluys chose to recreate one of the most iconic moments of the Oscar-winning movie, Forrest Gump: Gump’s cross-country run.

Oudersluys, a native of Birmingham, Michigan, began his run in Los Angeles on May 9 and plans to reach Illinois slightly after the halfway point of his run, passing through Jacksonville, Springfield and Clinton on July 9, 10 and 11, respectively.

“I was kind of bored one day while running and trying to come up with something big and exciting I could do, so I decided to run across the country,” Oudersluys says of what prompted him to take on the challenge. “Once it was in my head I couldn’t not do it, so I had to go for it.”

Oudersluys, an experienced long distance runner with a handful of marathons and ultramarathons under his belt including the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, has primarily run alone during his trek. He meets a support van approximately every 10 miles to hydrate and refuel, though occasionally he has had to drive the van himself, running forward, biking back to the van, driving the fan to the next stop and repeating the process until he completes his run.


“Those days are kind of rough,” Oudersluys says.

Oudersluys plans to finish his run in Portland, Maine in 100 days, which means he needs to run about 30 miles every day to complete his journey on time. Though he hasn’t built rest days into his plan, he says he has on occasion added two or three miles to his run so he can take a rest day later if he needs one.

In addition to the personal challenge, Oudersluys aims to raise $10,000 for the Hall STEPS Foundation over the course of his run. The Hall STEPS Foundation, founded by Ryan and Sara Hall, aims to fight poverty by improving health. His $10,000 goal would fund the construction of a well in Africa.

“I wanted a charity that was running related, so I looked around, emailed Sara Hall and talked to her about it,” Oudersluys says. “She was very supportive.”

To learn more about Oudersluys, his run and his fundraising, visit www.crowdrise.com/ProjectGump.