Marathon champion goes from Galway to Dublin in under 24 hours. Julia Mason interviewed him and asks why.
When people who don’t know where Galway and Blowtorch Records is (incredibly there still are some) and ask me of its location, I tell them that it is directly across from Dublin on the opposite coast. I don’t ever remember ultra distance runner Rob Pope asking me of Galway's whereabouts. However he is plainly aware that the best route across Ireland is a straight line from Galway to Dublin. Rob's a runner, Guinness drinker and music fan. There's only person for this interview - over to you Julia Mason. I should also say at this point that there is an excellent half hourly coach service between these two great cities which takes less than 3 hours. Just saying.
Robert Pope ran from Galway City on Ireland's west coast to the capital Dublin in just 23 hours and 39 minutes. The 44-year-old took on the 134-mile (215 km) challenge after a pint of Guinness in Galway, before finishing with another at the end of the route.
He set off from Galway's Spanish Arch (or as young uns call it - Sparch) on Saturday August 6 and began his 215 kms run to Dublin. He settled in, with his four-man support team, for a quiet pint of Guinness in Galway's Monroes Tavern before setting off at 22.31 pm. He dipped his feet in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and 23 hours and 39 minutes later he finished in the capital.
Monday August 8 was the The Edge's (guitarist from U2) birthday and so U2 was the main soundtrack to this epic adventure. I just had to find out more about this extraordinary challenge and the man behind it.
1. Where did the idea come from?
I'd wanted to try and do a 100-miler and/or a 24h run for a long time after having completed some different distance challenges in the past. These ranged from running from Paul McCartney's house to Glastonbury over 3 days in 2021 to raise money for Oxfam (the festival fell victim to COVID); to the big one - recreating Forrest Gump's entire run, 5 times across the USA over 422 days between 2016 and 2018. I decided this Summer was the right time and looked for a cool way to do it. I guessed Ireland would be somewhere over 100 miles across and less than 200 and was intrigued by the fact it was about 135 miles - at the limit of what might be possible for me at this point. I gave myself a 40% chance of being able to do it in a day but would have been happy to have taken a couple if it was beyond me, or even just getting the 100-miler done in a day.
2. Why did you tie it into The Edge from U2's birthday? Did you get any response from him?
I'm a huge U2 fan and when I ran across the States, I got massively into them, especially The Joshua Tree, which some people say is Bono's "love letter to America". I listened to that album on loop through Joshua Tree National Park (8.5 times, if you're wondering) and became the first person ever (like, who else has realistically going to have done this?) to run from Joshua Tree NP to the ACTUAL Joshua tree, just outside of Death Valley. How did I know it was the right one? Well, there's a huge U2 shrine with a concrete and bronze plaque asking "Have You Found What You're Looking For?" Anyway, I digress. I wanted a summer date to get good weather and I saw that the 8th of August was the day that I Still Haven't Found... hit number one in the US Billboard 100 and a certain David Howell Evans was born. The 7th was a Sunday and I thought it would be ace to try and get to Dublin in time to celebrate these wondrous anniversaries!
The Edge hasn't got in touch yet, but I guess he is most famous for delay... 3. What motivates you to run?
So many reasons. I like the challenge and I like to move quickly. Time on the road gives me time to myself and think things through if I need, but often I'm just wandering within my mind and listening to music, both new and old. Recently, of course, I've found that I can use my running for good and in the course of my running, I've raised approaching £100,000 for various charities, most notably on my US run, for Peace Direct and WWF. 4. How does listening to music help? What songs in particular boost your motivation?
It passes the time! That's seriously important when you're running long, but it also can provide a huge boost. On my Glastonbury run, I made a playlist of all the bands who were slated to play that weekend and each selection got an hour - Fontaines DC were sandwiched between London Grammar and Supergrass. I imagine next time, they'll be a lot higher! It was pretty cool as it made me listen to a good few bands I'd never have normally checked out. Having a band per hour broke those days up and it did the same on the Ireland run, as I made my way through the extended versions of every album U2 ever did, in chronological order. Every 6 hours, I switched to Fontaines DC for an album, to start a new chapter of the run. Of course, when I was in the States certain bands were just perfect. Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey, I had a day of nothing but Bob Dylan and Neil Young running through the desert and even bands like U2 and the Stones took on new life in what was like a real-life movie. I also had a rule where I could never take a walking break if AC/DC came on shuffle. It always seemed to happen when I was desperate for one! 5. Training is obviously important but what other tips would you provide to help others looking to challenge themselves?
A nice simple answer here, ask why you're challenging yourself. Don't do it to impress others, do it for yourself, or for a good cause. If you do it for those reasons, you'll always find the motivation to succeed. You can feel free to make others proud, of course... 6. Have you discovered if this has been achieved before?
As far as I can work out, it hasn't certainly not in a day - I'm sure a few have done it on bikes or walked though... 7. You are fundraising. Can you expand on the reasons for the organisations you are supporting?
I picked the WWF and Peace Direct as my causes for this run as I did a trek earlier in the year where I didn't really hit my fundraising goals. Initially, I wasn't going to do this for charity as my focus was primarily on getting the job done and I didn't want to do a half-assed job of either, but then lots of people seemed to ask if I was doing it for charity and then it seemed weird not to. In Forrest Gump, Forrest gets asked if he's running for world peace, women's rights, the homeless, animals or for the environment; and in Peace Direct, a small charity that tries to stop conflict from escalating through education, mediation, empowerment and opportunity creation and the Worldwide Fund for Nature, these bases are covered. Their work means so much to me that anything I can do to help, I do. Please check 'em out and see how you can help - they're both ace.
8. Whats next?
Ah, there are so many ideas, it all depends on which blocks fall into place, with family, work etc, but stay tuned to @run.robla.run on social, there'll be some good stuff, I can promise. Sometimes with very little warning - after all this run was only 9 weeks from idea to getting it done and trust me, I felt the lack of training!
Please visit Rob's Just Giving page
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