End of the road for Gumpathoners

A crowd gathered at the Santa Monica Pier last Thursday to greet the men of the Gumpathon as they reached the final destination on their long journey. CSgt Damian Todd RM, Marine Mark Ormrod, Master Gunnery Sergeant Charles "Chunks" Padilla USMC, Marine Jamie Jobson, Cpl Lloyd Fenner RM, and SSgt James Mazzoni-Dalton Army Physical Training Corps, joined the elite group of men who have run across the vast United States. Their objective? To raise money for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, the US Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and Help for Heroes (H4H), all charities which aid returned military men and women.

"We need to put it in perspective," said Brigadier Paul Denning at the event. "More people have reached the top of Everest than have run the U.S. "

It all began 14 years ago as Todd was watching the film "Forrest Gump" and decided that it would be a cool idea to mimic Forrest's epic run. The idea was dismissed until two and a half years ago when Todd's friend returned home injured from his tour in Afghanistan. "I felt like a fraud never having been to Iraq or Afghanistan," said Todd.

He decided to run from Union City, New York, to Los Angeles, California in a mere 63 days. According to the Gumpathon website, the route "runs across 3,530 miles crosses three deserts, four time zones and ten mountain ranges which climb to over 10,000 feet."

All members of the Gumpathon accomplished their own personal challenges. Lloyd Fenner completed a three hour 38 minute marathon in Arkansas, while Charles Padilla ran 85 miles in one day. "I've certainly never done something this hard in my entire life," said Todd. "The personal achievement is great, and it's very indicative of the human spirit."

While the Gumpathon celebrated the final day of its journey, Route 66 celebrated its 84th birthday. The pier was alive with the sound of music, as the USC marching band added a welcomed soundtrack to the event. The crowd paused for two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. to pay respect to those who have lost their lives or been injured.

As of Nov.15, the group has earned an approximate total of $50,500 in the U.S. and 70,800 pounds in the U.K. for the charities, and they hope to continue to raise more.