Sunday, November 14, 2010

British, American disabled vets run across USA to raise funds for injured soldiers

From The Belfast Telegraph in N. Ireland:

A triple amputee and a team of Royal Marines have completed a 3,530-mile charity run across the US in aid of injured servicemen and women.

The five British runners were joined by a member of the US Marine Corps for the coast-to-coast journey, named the Gumpathon after the film Forrest Gump, in which the titular hero spends years running through the country.

It is hoped the Gumpathon, which took eight weeks to complete, will raise £1 million for the Royal Marine Charitable Trust Fund and Help for Heroes in the UK and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund in the US, with donations still being collected.

Mark Ormrod (right in picture), 27, from Plymouth, who lost both legs and his right arm when he stood on a landmine on Christmas Eve 2007, provided the inspiration for Colour Sergeant Damian Todd to organise the run. Mr Ormrod, who has recently left the Royal Marines, had pledged to run one mile a day but managed more than that, completing five miles in a day on one occasion.

Mr Ormrod, who was initially told he would never walk again, said after reaching the end of the run in Los Angeles: "Unless you've got your legs missing, you can't understand how difficult this is for me.

"I need some sort of motivation to get me up every day and that is what my wife and daughter and my friends and family back home do for me, but mainly my wife and daughter. I am trying to make them proud of what I am doing.

"When I ran my fastest mile, I wanted to throw chunks at the half-mile point and stop, but I didn't stop because that's what pushed me on - I wanted to make them and everyone back at home proud and show everyone what you can do with support and determination.

"During the eight weeks, my running has really improved but my body feels like it's been hit by a train physically. The whole team struggled but mentally pulled each other through the long days and nights."

Working on a rota which saw five men running each day, the men covered 16 states and four time zones, each running an average of 20 miles.

They suffered a number of setbacks, including organiser Clr Sgt Todd tearing his Achilles' heel in training and having to complete his miles on a handbike.