Q&A: ‘Real life Forrest Gump’ Barclay Oudersluys

Image: Project Gump Instagram

3,200 miles, 11 states, 100 days: Barclay Oudersluys' Project Gump challenge is no mean feat. The 23-year-old is running coast-to-coast across the USA to raise money for the Hall Steps Foundation, a non-profit organisation which aims to fight poverty through improving health.

How many days into your run are you as of today (Wednesday 15th July)? Are you on course to finish within 100 days as planned?

Today would be day number 68. I'm actually a day ahead, so I'll finish in 99 if everything stays on track and definitely no more than 100 unless something unexpected happens.

How many hours/miles a day do you average?

I average just over 30 miles per day (between 31 and 32), and that takes about 4.5 hours of running time and about 6 hours from when I start to when I finish.

What are you eating to fuel your runs?

I'm pretty much eating whatever I can. I brought a lot of stuff that would last - nuts, dried fruit, canned food, peanut butter, granola bars, stuff like that. And then I'm eating a lot of fast food or stopping at a buffet and stuffing myself, which isn’t normal for me but I think it's fine for now.

Are you struggling with any injuries or afflictions? 

No major injuries. I've had all sorts of minor things, blisters, tendonitis, tightness in all parts of my legs, but nothing that I can't run through.

Which state are you most looking forward to running through? Why?

I hate to say it but it might be Ohio. Not because there's anything nice about Ohio itself, but that's where I'll be closest to my hometown so I'll be meeting up with a lot of friends through there.

What kind of running experience did you have before you took this challenge on? How did you prepare?

I started by running a 50-mile race about 2 years ago, and since then I've done a couple more ultras up to 100 miles and a couple of marathons. The training was really just a lot of running. The harder part of preparing was the logistical part: making the route, deciding what I needed to bring and connecting with people along the way.

Any long distance run is pretty impressive, but this is something else altogether. What made you choose this challenge?

I think once you've done 100 miles it's tough to go much bigger in a single race, so if I wanted to top that I had to come up with something new.

What’s the most remarkable thing you’ve seen on your journey so far?

My personal favorite was seeing some zebras on a farm in Colorado.

What’s been your hardest moment so far during the challenge? How did you get through it?

Honestly, there hasn't really been one hardest moment. With something as long as this each minute isn't all that difficult and there are definitely tougher minutes like at the end of a marathon or an 8k. It's more that every second of your day is slightly challenging and that starts to wear on you mentally.

Where are you staying along the way?

Anywhere I can. I've been contacting friends in the areas I run through and seeing if they have connections in nearby towns where I could stay with someone and I'll take whatever they can give me. So I've stayed in 5 star hotels, people's houses, fire houses… If I can't find anything then I find somewhere to park my van, a Wal-Mart parking lot or out in the middle of nowhere, and sleep in the back of that.

Can you tell us about the Hall Steps Foundation?

It was founded by Ryan and Sara Hall and their goal with it is to fight global poverty by increasing health and wellness around the world. They're working to provide clean water to areas that don't have that or building maternity wards in other areas. If I'm able to get to $10,000 that money will go towards building a well in Mozambique.

How will you celebrate when you finish?

Honestly, I haven't even thought about celebrating. But I know I only have a few days to get back across the country to start school so there really won't be all that much time for celebrating.