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Man compared to Forrest Gump walks almost 30,000 miles around the world in seven years with dog

Unlike Forrest Gump, Tom Turcich had a particular reason for setting out on foot that would take him and his best friend to all but one continent.

Tom Turcich with his dog Savannah in Morocco
Tom Turcich

Forrest Gump set out “for no particular reason” when he began a journey that would last three years, two months, 14 days and 16 hours. In that time Gump ran 15,248 miles, or so we’re told, and crossed the United States nearly five times.

That feat pales in comparison to Tom Turcich, now 33. He set out seven years ago to walk the globe eventually covering nearly 30,000 miles. Although he had planned to finish in five years, illness and a pandemic put a speed bump in his timeline. Covid-19 restrictions also denied him his goal of walking all seven continents putting Australia off limits.

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Turcich becomes the tenth person to accomplish record

There are only ten people in the world known to have walked around the entire world and now a dog is on record too. Turcich became the tenth when he more than surpassed the requirements to claim the Guinness World Record. In order to meet the requirements for a circumnavigation on foot one needs to travel 18,000 miles and cross four continents.

His dog Savannah, which he picked up along the way, was along for Tom’s journey across six of the seven continents. Turcich acquired the mixed breed from an animal shelter in Austin, Texas when he felt he needed someone to “keep watch” during the night. She was only four months old and at first rode in the running stroller that Tom used to carry gear for the adventure.

The loss of a friend prompted Turcich to circumnavigate the globe

Although Turcich set out from his home in New Jersey 2 April 2015, a day before his 26th birthday, the idea to walk across the seven continents began years before. When he was seventeen he lost a close friend Ann Marie in a jet ski accident, she was just sixteen. That loss started him planning his circumnavigation of the world on foot.

“Since her death I’ve decided to make the most of each day. I walk the world to become immersed in unknown places and be forced into adventure day after day,” Tom wrote on the webpage for what he called “The World Walk.” He had many adventures over the past seven years which he documented on his Instagram and Facebook pages.

Tom Turcich
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Tom Turcich spent his 33rd birthday, eighth while traveling, in Greenfield, Indiana heading home at lastTom Turcich

Sponsors helped him bring his dream to fruition

Globetrotting is not cheap and while he planned his trip he worked to build up the funds he’d need. He managed to collect enough to last him two years and planned to set off when he got a patron for his journey which allowed for him to add more years to his trek. Bob Mehmet, the owner of Philadelphia Sign, a local company, caught wind of Turcich’s plans and offered to sponsor him.

His two sons attended high school with Tom and he knew Ann Marie and her family and “just wanted to support me however he could,” Turcich told CNN. His annual costs were about $12,000 he estimated, which were covered by Mehmet and other donations he received over social media and Patreon.

Not an adventure for the faint of heart

When Tom told his family of his plans his mother, Catherine Turcich, reacted as any mother would, “I was very anxious,” she told NJ.com. She wasn’t just worried about his safety and health but about his future. However, when she saw him after he had been out for nearly two years she found him changed, “He had grown into a man on this journey.”

She was right to be worried, the adventure didn’t come without some hairy moments. Tom had to stop his journey in 2017 after he came down with a bacterial infection while crossing Ireland and Scotland. He ended up spending a month in and out of hospital in London before returning to the US for several months to recover. He continued his trek in the spring of 2018 going back to Europe.

Disease wasn’t the only danger, he found himself in a few instances where he was worried he could be killed. While in Panama he was held at knife point but it was in Turkey that he had a truly scary experience.

As he was walking in the mountains along the border with Syria a man jumped off a motorbike and pointed a gun at him. He said in a YouTube post that it was the first time he though he might get kidnapped or worse. In the end its was Turkish security forces on patrol for PKK, an organization authorities consider a terrorist group. After being detained for two hours they sent Turcich on his way dropping him off outside disputed territory.