Reza Baluchi: Athlete's attempt to run on floating wheel from Florida to Bermuda ends badly
Ultramarathon runner was making the odd journey in a floating bubble for charity but ended up along the shore in Flagler County
To raise money for charity, people have done some strange things. Remember the ice bucket challenge that was all the rage in 2014? In 2019, Matt Jones and some of his friends agreed to get hit by 21,000 paintballs to raise money for the homeless. Well, the latest 'stunt' involves ultramarathon runner Reza Baluchi, who attempted to 'trek' from Florida to Bermuda, using a floating bubble. The only issue was, he ended up right back in Florida.
Here at MEAWW, we've covered some of the bizarre things people have done to raise money for charity. In April 2020, Peter Weber challenged Tyler Cameron to a dace-off, through a GoFundMe page to raise money for the CDP Covid-19 Response Fund. In December 2020, Atlantic City ran an auction to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Club, by allowing bidders to bid on the demolition of Trump Plaza. Of course, who can forget Captain Sir Thomas Moore? The British WW2 veteran walked 100 laps at the age of 100, to raise money for England's NHS, and was even knighted by The Queen for his efforts.
In the same vein, it appears Baluchi wanted to help raise money for homeless people, the Coast Guard, and the police and fire departments. So he thought the best way to do so would be to 'trek' the 1,051 miles between Flordia and the island of Bermuda. If you are wondering who this person is, here's everything we know.
Who is Reza Baluchi?
The marathon runner and activist is originally from Iran. In a 2016 interview, Baluchi revealed his parents were farmers near the Caspian Sea, and that he "would run several miles to get to school and his job as a car mechanic." He then served in the Iranian army, before being imprisoned for breaking rules like wearing a Michael Jackson t-shirt. "They tortured me; they broke my shoulder," he told the Sun-Sentinal. In his 20s, Baluchi decided to flee the country and made his way to Germany.
In 2003 he was able to get political asylum in the US and moved to Los Angeles. He then began doing a 'Forrest Gump', running around the country and indeed the world to raise money for various causes. In 2003, he ran from LA to New York on the second anniversary of 9/11. Then in 2007, he managed to circle the US perimeter in an 11,720-mile trek. Initially, he ran to raise funds for other charities, but now has his own 'Run With Reza' charity. "I never touch donation money," he said. "My thing is I've been (a) poor kid and I've been working very hard. I want to help children have a better life so they can choose their life."
Over the years, Baluchi has also visited over 50 countries around the world, "to spread a message of peace." Reportedly, he's worked odd jobs like a mechanic, cooking, and construction along the way. Then in 2014, he decided to do something truly crazy, or inspiring (depending on your view) - trek the sea.
Baluchi's sea adventures
In 2014, Baluchi first attempted to trek from Florida to Bermuda, using a custom-made 'bubble'. The hydro pod is made from transparent plastic, with a metal frame that allows Baluchi to run on the surface of the sea. In 2014, he planned to go from Jacksonville to Bermuda, then to Puerto Rico, Haiti, Key West, and back to Pompano. Unfortunately for him, the plan failed and he ended up stranded in the Atlantic ocean.
Baluchi was spotted disoriented and asking for directions by a fishing boat, who called the Coast Guard. The Guard then rescued him 80 miles off the coast of St. Augustine. Undeterred, he attempted the journey twice more, before he ended up in real trouble. In 2016, during his third attempt, Baluchi was stopped by the Coast Guard and then committed to a Jacksonville psychiatric hospital. He was released later, leading to yet another attempt, despite repeated warnings by the Coast Guard.
On July 24, Baluchi washed ashore in Flagler County after departing St Augustine the day before. Reportedly, he was forced to abandon his journey after noticing some of his safety and navigation equipment was stolen. Reportedly, he was planning to run from Florida to New York, in a bid to "raise money for homeless people, raise money for the Coast Guard, raise money for the police department, raise money for the fire department. They are in public service, they do it for safety and they help other people." It appears bad weather also played a role in abandoning the stunt.
Despite failing to make the unique sea adventure, Baluchi appears undeterred. "I’ll never give up my dream. They stop me four or five times but I never give up," he told Fox 35 Orlando. Given he's already been in considerable trouble with the Coast Guard, it's unclear if he plans to make the odd journey again, but it certainly seems possible.