SHEFFIELD long-distance runner Steve Pope is aiming to push himself to the limit from next month – with a 3,000-mile journey across America.
The 44-year-old student landlord has set himself the challenge of running 40 miles a day, for 77 days, from San Francisco to New York, taking in nine mountain ranges and three deserts along the way.
He will be accompanied by friend Chris Finill, from Surrey, and the duo hope to raise £10,000 for the Help For Heroes charity with the adventure they are calling From Golden Gate to New York State.
Eight times as many people have climbed Everest as have crossed America on foot and only one, an American, has taken a route similar to the one being taken by the British runners.
“We have both got a long history of long-distance racing,” said Steve, who lives with wife Penny in Crosspool. “We have run 24- and 12-hour races but we have never attempted anything like this. We are confident we can do it but the proof is in the pudding.
“The first three weeks will be hot, then we have got the Rockies. It’s going to be hard – we wouldn’t attempt if it wasn’t. Both of us have thought about this for a long time, and we are at the stage where if we don’t do it, we are not going to do it. Time isn’t on our side.”
Steve and Chris, aged 52, a school bursar, who is the only man to have run all 31 London marathons in under three hours, plan to set off on August 19 by running out of the Pacific Ocean, Baywatch-style, and to finish on November 6 by plunging headlong into the Atlantic.
They are even taking part in the New York marathon on the same day – “the perfect ending”.
Steve, who runs his own student property business after working as a teacher, already has form when it comes to crossing America.
He cycled from Vancouver to the Mexican border over six weeks in 1995 – “for the hell of it.”
And the journey north to south whetted his appetite for seeing different parts of the country. “There are two Americas – the cities and small town America, which you don’t really see much of.
“It’s where nobody locks their houses and cars and where everybody invites you to dinner. They are friendly, open people. The cities are very different.
“If you are going to see America, you want to see the extremes. There will be some times when there will be four days without us seeing a habitation. It will bring home that America is a big place.”
The duo will be accompanied by cameraman Ben Southern, who will record the highs and lows of the journey and drive the back-up vehicle.
Steve is also thinking there could be a book to follow – “because enough bizarre things are going to happen to us”.
The duo are looking for sponsors to offer cash or equipment, runners who would like to run with them for a mile or a day, hoteliers or homeowners who might be able to give them a bed for a night.
Their website is http://runacrossamerica.co.uk/index.php.