On September 10th 2010, six very special men from three of the world's finest fighting forces will attempt to run coast to coast across America to raise funds for injured service men and women on both sides of the Atlantic. The team, including three men from the north of England, will run across 16 States, four time zones and complete approximately 20 miles a day each, for 8 weeks in 'The Gumpathon'.
Youngest in the team is Marine Jamie Jobson, 24, from the northeast of England, he has joined this challenge to give something back for all the men he met on tour and back in the UK who were injured in Afghanistan. One of those men, Marine Mark Ormrod, lost both legs and his right arm after stepping on a landmine on Christmas Eve 2007 in Afghanistan. He joins the teaming crossing America and will complete at least one mile a day on special blades that have been fitted to enable him to run.
The Gumpathon will raise money for three service charities, in the UK - The Royal Marine Charitable Trust Fund and Help for Heroes and in the US, The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. The team aim to raise a £1m for each of the charities in a challenge which will become the first time in which U.S and British forces have united to raise funds for such a cause.
This epic challenge is the brain-child of Colour Sergeant Damian Todd, Royal Marines who, after watching the film Forrest Gump in 1994 thought that running across America seemed like an interesting idea. After ten years of thinking about it, in 2007 Damian found a reason to put his plan into action when close friend and teammate, Mark, was left with serious permanent disability following his tour in Afghanistan.
Damian, from Scunthorpe, enlisted Mark and Jamie, as well as Cpl Lloyd Fenner, from Grimsby, SSgt James Mezzoni-Dawson and US Marine Gunnery Sergeant Charles Padilla to join him in this massive challenge. Speaking about the journey ahead, Damian said, "I've served as a Royal Marine now in excess of 21 years and have never felt quite so strongly about wanting to achieve something that will help others."
Major General Gary Robinson, Chief of Staff Capability, Royal Marines, commented "The Gumpathon team are an inspiring example of that blend of loyalty and determination, mixed with a touch of the incredulous, that makes the 'Esprit de Corps' of service life attractive to so many. The team have my wholehearted and enthusiastic endorsement in this endeavour, and my thanks go out to them and to all of you, for your generous support to this worthy cause".
Keep checking northernrunningguide.com for the latest news in this inspirational challenge.