Marathon man gets his bubble burst

Long distance runner Reza Baluchi gets caught by U.S. Coast Guard in second attempt at "running" across the ocean to Bermuda
Reza Baluchi looks out his "hydropod" as he is rescued by the Coast Guard. (U.S. Coast Guard)

Walking on water. We humans certainly aren't built for it, but every once in a while, one of us gives it a shot. The results usually aren't great. Just ask Reza Baluchi.

This 44 year-old long distance runner from Florida was picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard off the coast of Florida this past Sunday. Baluchi was inside what he calls the "hydropod", a floating structure that resembles a clear hamster wheel with a bubble at its centre. What was he doing there, you ask? Just "running" to the island of Bermuda. As a part of a huge fundraising run, he was going to cross the ocean to Bermuda by running in the bubble, move further south to Puerto Rico, race on land across Haiti and Cuba, then return by sea to Florida. All of this was an attempt to make it around the fabled "Bermuda Triangle", a legendary section of ocean known for its treacherous waters, deadly storms, and numerous lost ships.

Baluchi planned to travel along the edges of the Bermuda Triangle before he was stopped (©Wikimedia Commons)

Second shot

This was actually the second time that Baluchi had tried this stunt. The first time, in 2014, he was rescued by the Coast Guard after becoming disoriented and lost (he reportedly was seen asking passing motorboats for directions to Bermuda). The rescue cost a whopping $144,000 U.S. and also earned him a stern lecture from the Coast Guard. When words started spreading on Baluchi's website that he was attempting another run this April, the Coast Guard reminded him that his craft was still unsafe and that he'd need a boat to follow him at all times in case of emergency. "This was an inherently unsafe voyage that put the lives of Mr Baluchi and other mariners in danger," said Coast Guard Captain Austin Gould. Despite these warnings, he set off alone once more, likely some time last Friday, before being picked up two days later. Baluchi agreed to stop the journey voluntarily.

Another side

Though this story paints Baluchi as bit of a strange fellow (and fair enough, he did try to run across the ocean in a bubble), this is a man who has run (on land) for numerous good causes in the past. He has run across the United States (twice, most recently in 2009) and also run around its perimeter in 2007, a distance of over 18,000 kilometres (11,000 miles). And throughout it all, he has raised money for various children's charities and institutions, such as The Children's Hospital in Denver.

Of course, all the good causes in the world won't get you a free pass when you ignore the U.S. Coast Guard's direct warnings and they have to come rescue you (again). Baluchi is likely to face a fine and may even have to pay the cost of his rescue. What do you think of this situation?

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