Barclay Oudersluys hopes to raise $10,000 for charity with his trek

By Alex Heigl
Updated July 10, 2015 04:30 PM

Barclay Oudersluys’s favorite movie is Forrest Gump. And the 23-year-old Michigan native is also an avid runner, having competed in triathlons and ultramarathons.

But that’s pretty much where the similarities between he and Gump end: Oudersluys is on track to graduate from the University of California with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nuclear engineering in August.

Before he does, however, he’s trying to complete a goal inspired by the movie. He wants to run across the country in 100 days. “I decided if Forrest Gump could run across the country, I could do it too,” he told Reuters from day 61, in Mount Pulaski, Illinois.

Oudersluys wakes up at around 6 a.m., and hits a daily pace of 30 to 33 miles. He’s running from the Santa Monica Pier in California to the Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde, Maine, an approximately 3,150-mile trip that he’s calling “Project Gump.”

But unlike Gump, Oudersluys has a better reason for running than “just feeling like it.” He’s trying to raise $10,000 for the Hall Steps Foundation, a charity started by two professional distance runners in 2009 to combat poverty on a global scale.

Oudersluys occasionally has friends help him out by driving his van, in which he sleeps and cooks meals, but his journey has been mostly a solitary one. He has had some company, though. “I’ve had a lot of dogs come run with me,” he said. “Most stay for like five or 10 miles. I don’t know how they end up getting home.”