British adventurer feeling the pressure ahead of US 'Forrest Gump' run

A British adventurer is feeling the pressure just days from beginning his attempt to become a real-life Forrest Gump by running nearly 6,000 miles across America.

Jamie McDonald, 31, will be dressed as a superhero as he attempts to conquer the US unaided, having previously run across Canada.

The former tennis coach, from Gloucester, will start his run on Tuesday at Cape Alava in Washington, the most western point of the US.

British adventurer Jamie McDonald is due to begin is run across the US on Tuesday (Jamie McDonald/PA)
Jamie McDonald will run as 'Adventureman' (Jamie McDonald/PA)

His journey will take him between 5,500 and 6,000 miles across the US through more than 15 states, including California, Texas, Tennessee, Washington DC and New York, on his way to the eastern-most point of mainland US: West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Maine.

Running by himself and without a support crew, Mr McDonald will battle through desolate and lonely deserts, sub-zero temperatures and the constant threat of wild animals, injuries and the uncertain elements as he runs the equivalent of 230 marathons.

Whereas he ran dressed as superhero The Flash throughout Canada, this time he will be running as his alter ego, Adventureman.

"I have spent the last month just trying to do get into the gym to do some strength training and a little bit of running but I have got to say that I haven't done much at all," he said.

"I have got to run 6,000 miles and I don't really want to add to that."

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This time though, he is beginning to feel the weight of expectation on his shoulders.

"I think it is just the pressure. It's really weird and there is huge amount of pressure on this one," he said.

"I don't know why I am feeling it so much more. I don't know if on my last adventures I felt this much pressure.

"I have got these voices in my head, 'Of course you're going to run across the States'. No, it doesn't quite work like that and there is a good chance I am going to fail.

"When I cycled from Bangkok to Gloucester no-one really knew what I was doing, so maybe there is that expectation from other people. It's not wanting to let anyone down."

Jamie McDonald has previously run across Canada pushing a buggy and dressed in a superhero costume (Jamie McDonald/PA)
Jamie McDonald has previously run across Canada pushing a buggy and dressed in a superhero costume (Jamie McDonald/PA)

Mr McDonald, who is in a relationship with fellow adventurer Anna McNuff, said he was more prepared this time because he knows he may well be struck down again by chronic tendonitis in his foot.

"There is no room for error and if something becomes chronic again I won't have any time to stop, so I will just have to run through whatever happens," he said.

He has packed three pairs of trainers, one set of spare clothes and loaded up his trusted baby stroller, which has already got a few strange looks from US border guards.

"It has a big solar panel on the front of it and it looks like a spaceship but the guy was asking whether it moved itself and I said I was going to push it and use it to power my phone," he said.

"He wanted to know where I was running to and where I was finishing and my brain just went blank and I said: 'I don't actually know'.

"He was like, 'You're running across the US and you don't even know where you are going to finish?'

"He put me under so much pressure and then he went silent for five minutes and then, 'Okay, on you go then'."

Mr McDonald, who suffered from debilitating immune deficiency and the potentially fatal spinal condition syringomyelia as a child, spent the first nine years of his life in and out of children's hospitals and is hoping to raise £250,000 for the Superhero Foundation, a charity he co-founded.

Jamie McDonald is due to begin his run across the US (Jamie McDonald/PA)
Jamie McDonald is due to begin his run across the US (Jamie McDonald/PA)

He came to prominence in 2012 when he cycled 14,000 miles from Bangkok to Gloucester on a £50 second-hand bike.

Just weeks after returning to Gloucester, he set a new world record for cycling non-stop on a static bike. In February 2013, two months after setting the new world record, he began his run across Canada.

He added: "I'm looking forward to the American buffets and if I can find one at the end of every marathon I think I will be laughing. If there is one thing you can do well when you are doing this, it's eating.

"I don't know if Forrest Gump is a true story or not, but I guess in a small way, if Tom Hanks can do it, anyone can do it.

"What the Americans will realise is that I am a first-class idiot and they will think that 'we better help him or he is going to die'."

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