It takes a lot to be considered the ‘modern day Forrest Gump’, but when you spend two and a half months running from the north of Norway to the south of Spain it’s fair to say that you’ve earned the title. That, in essence, has been the journey of the incredible Ralph Mesquita, this summer.
Ralph has always been a sensational runner in his own right, but little over a year ago the Belgian set out to do something that few could’ve thought was possible – by essentially running from the top end of Europe to the bottom.
“I wake up at around 7.15, start running at 8 in the morning, after 10-11km I’ll stop and have something to eat and breathe a little bit. I’ll start again, then I’ll do another 40km in the morning and I’ll have lunch, take a nap, and do the rest of the remaining run in the afternoon – which is about 35km.”
With a total 5200km in front of him you’d think that this would be a daunting task, and in some ways it was, but just from speaking to Ralph we can tell that this man is unbelievably determined when it comes to making a difference.
Clouds were dauntingly beautiful for my first day in France 🇫🇷! Lots of rain! Beautiful country pic.twitter.com/WBYq9Rhalk
— Ralph Mesquita Ⓥ (@ralphmesquita) August 18, 2017
Because although this kind of challenge may sound intriguing to some it hasn’t exactly been a picnic in the park, which is why there’s one major motivation behind it: helping to raise money in an attempt to fight obesity.
Ralph, who will be heading back home to hand in his final piece of university work following the conclusion of the run, has teamed up with the European Childhood Obesity Group as they look to raise awareness of this growing issue across the globe.
“The training was mainly: run in a way that you would never be tired, or run in a way that you would be able to cross the world. Find a pace where you can do whatever you want.”
Alongside his decision to attempt this momentous feat Ralph also went ahead and became a vegan, which is a decision that seems to have impacted his life for the better. Just hearing him talk about these things with such a passion will make you realise that with a positive mental state of mind, most things are indeed possible.
It truly is a remarkable story in every which way, especially when you glance upon the statistics. When taking a look at the running app Strava, which Ralph uses to document his progress, many will be stunned to learn that he’s already a staggering 147km ahead of his nearest challenger in the September Running Challenge – and we aren’t even half way through the month yet.
There have been many days in which Ralph has felt the pains and struggles that naturally come with a task of this magnitude, but the support from his family and the general public have urged him on to the point where the finish line is finally in sight.
30C heat from 12 to 8pm today. Daym the heat can be so unforgiving. All in all good 49th day. But hard hard heat! pic.twitter.com/xYnr7JHv30
— Ralph Mesquita Ⓥ (@ralphmesquita) August 22, 2017
“On one hand I just can’t wait to get to that finish line, it’s starting to get really long being out here without my friends, family and my girlfriend. But at the same time, I don’t know if I want it to end. I’ll be sad, and I’m sure I’ll even get a little bit depressed because it’ll be the end.”
Through gastritis, heat stroke and some difficult days it’s easy to see why mixed emotions will come with the conclusion of the run, as it would for anyone.
Having travelled across nine countries for hundreds of miles you’d think that he’ll be sick of the idea of running by the time he gets home, but Ralph doesn’t want to rest on his laurels. With even more ideas and journeys to come in the future, this is only the beginning for this tremendous man.
You can follow Ralph’s journey via his Twitter account here.
And if you want to support the cause, head to European Childhood Obesity Group’s Twitter.