What makes you superhuman
"How To Be Superhuman": This is ultra-marathon and podcast icon Rob Pope
© Mark Roe
Red Bull's podcast "How To Be Superhuman" delves deep into the human mind of extreme athletes. One man is the focus: Rob Pope. Find out what makes the ultra runner tick here.
Ultra runner Rob Pope has broken world records. In his new Red Bull podcast, "How To Be Superhuman", he now explores the question of what it really means to do superhuman things and to push the limits.
Click here for the podcast:
The extreme athlete from Liverpool ran through America in 2016 - disguised as Forrest Gump. He covered over 25,000 kilometers on foot while crossing the country a total of five times, visiting 43 US states. He was on the road for a total of two years.
But what does Rob think about it himself? After this achievement, does he feel as if he has done something superhuman?
"The whole thing exceeded my expectations; so if you look at it soberly, you might think that it was. I've become a better person over the course of the journey. Maybe that's the very definition of doing something superhuman - that you being a better person after you've done it. "
The question of the definition of what exactly constitutes this "superhuman" has not left Rob, which is why he also covers it in his podcast. "To be superhuman is to have the ability to push yourself beyond your expectations," he explains. "Our goals are set too low, perhaps also to protect us. Of course, it's good that people expect less - it also reduces disappointments, but the people I interview on the podcast show that it is too another way is that there are no limits in setting goals. "
Rob started running at a young age, taking part in a cross-country run at school. "I wasn't bad, but I never got to the point where I thought I would like to devote my whole life to running." Nevertheless, he continued to run, even if football was a priority.
Then, in 2002, shortly after Rob ran the Virgin Money London Marathon, his mother died of cancer. "Before she died, she said something that stuck: 'Dedicate yourself to one thing in your life that makes a difference'." At that time he was working as a veterinarian and then the offer came to take a job in Australia - and so he did.
"In Australia, I joined an athlete club and it did a lot more training. I improved my marathon time by about 15 minutes; at that point I was under two and a half hours." It wasn't long before he was crowned the Australian marathon champion. "That was surreal," he says, "I was tenth in the marathon in Sydney and when I crossed the finish line, my coach congratulated me with the words: 'You are the Australian champion ...'. I replied, 'You know, that I'm not Australian? ' He then said: 'You have been here long enough'. "
He came back to the UK three years later, and while he was doing a job that was gradually bothering him, he remembered what his mother had said. "I had read a fantastic book by the British author Nick Baldock, who had walked all over America," he explains. "That sounded great and I thought I had to do it. At first I wanted to walk around Australia, but it didn't work out. Then when America came up, a buddy said to me, 'Are you really going to do it this time or are you just talking about that again? ' If I did, it had to be for a good cause. I wanted to be as creative as possible, so I looked around for ideas that no one had ever done before. "
Perhaps that is exactly the definition of doing something superhuman - that after you do it, you are a better person.
That was where the Forrest Gump idea was born. "I had thought of this before because anyone who walks with a long beard is like, 'Run, Forrest, run!' Then I did some research and it looked like no one else had actually made this run out of the film. "
Rob took the research for his run very seriously: "I wanted to get it right. The worst thing I imagined was people saying, 'You walked many miles, but you didn't make it to the Santa Monica Pier; you didn't even manage to grow your beard. ' So I went to a barbershop in Mobile, Alabama and got the Forrest Gump navy hairstyle before I started. Greenbow doesn't exist, it was invented for the movie, so I figured Mobile was a good one Beginning - Forrest always comes from there. "
He even managed to find the exact day Forrest started his run. "It was September 15th - I know that because Forrest walks past a barbershop in the movie that is talking about President Carter's 10K race; that was September 15th, 1979."
His project raised money for WWF and Peace Direct - and there was a reason for that: "When you see Forrest cross the Mississippi for the fourth time while being followed by reporters, they ask him: 'Run for world peace 'For women's rights, the homeless, the environment or the animals?' These two projects pretty much cover those issues. "
Rob has a hard time defining specific highlights as there are so many. As an avowed fan of U2, however, there is a moment that stands above all others. "Walking through Joshua Tree National Park was amazing. I looped the album eight and a half times as I walked through the park. The actual Joshua Tree isn't there, so I have what I was looking for , actually not found ... "
In addition to the highs, there were also enough moments of desperation and every morning Rob wanted to stop. "Especially in winter when the temperature was minus 18 degrees and I had to walk through Wyoming landscapes where there was literally nothing to see." Before that, however, he had set himself a rule: if he has three bad days in a row, he stops. "I've had a lot of injuries, from Achilles' heel to piriformis syndrome. I had to inject steroids up my butt just before the finish line. I could have stopped easily, but not when I'm so close."
But he will never forget that moment when he reached his goal. "It was amazing. It was on the Navajo Indian Reservation between Arizona and Utah. 40 people ran with me - it was like the last scene in the movie. I resisted saying, 'I'm pretty tired - me, until the end think I'm going home now. ' Then I got to the end, I said the line, everyone gave me a high five, then I asked for my girlfriend's hand. That was definitely a highlight. "
What can you expect from the new podcast?
"I was honored to be asked to do the podcast," says Rob. "At first I asked myself 'Why me?' Maybe they saw a few videos of me and thought, 'This guy looks fun.' But it gives me the opportunity to meet amazing people. I recently posted a photo of an interview I had with Tim Don, he was always my favorite triathlete so when I actually met him it was really great. He's a three-time Olympic winner so you'd expect a real giant, but he's no bigger than me. He's the perfect example of someone who is superhuman. He's a short guy who runs, swims, and cycles faster than anyone others. If that's not inspiring, then I don't know what else it is. "
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