VIDEO: Coast Guard rescues ‘bubble runner’ in Atlantic

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Here’s a story from the you-can’t-make-it-up department: A man was rescued Saturday from an inflatable bubble 70 nautical miles east of St. Augustine, Fla., by a Coast Guard search-and-rescue crew.

Reza Baluchi, a popular marathon runner, was using the bubble in an effort to get from Miami to Bermuda. He was spotted by Coast Guard watchstanders on Wednesday floating inside the bubble 80 miles off the shore of St. Augustine, looking disoriented and asking for directions to the island cluster roughly 1,000 miles from Miami.

He was on the first leg of an ambitious journey to outline the Bermuda Triangle — one that would take him from Miami to Bermuda, down to Puerto Rico, and then back to Miami, according to Baluchi’s website.

The purpose of the bubble voyage? Beluchi’s goal is to raise money for children in need and give inspiration to those that have lost hope, the Miami Herald reported.

In 2007 Baluchi ran the perimeter of the United States to raise money for Children’s Hopsital of Denver, and in 2009 he ran from Los Angeles to New York City, according to CNN. In the summer of 2010, Baluchi ran 135 miles from Death Valley to Mount Whitney in California.

“I believe my heart is love and I simply follow my heart where it takes me, in peace around the world,” he writes on his site.

But running on land apparently wasn’t enough for Baluchi — who designed the “Hydro Pod” to run on water. The plastic bubble is encased in a metal structure, with soccer balls tucked in on two of its sides for extra buoyancy. Baluchi propels it forward by running from one side to the other.

The athlete embarked alone aboard the contraption Sept. 30 from Miami. On Wednesday, the Coast Guard began to follow him, but on Thursday he was asked to put an end to his journey. A Coast Guard official reached Baluchi by phone Thursday and offered to get him back to shore. Officials feared he wouldn’t have enough supplies to survive: He was carrying protein bars, bottled water, a GPS and a satellite phone.

Capt. Todd Coggeshall told Baluchi that he hadn’t made progress on his intended track and warned him of deteriorating weather conditions.

“I’ve been two years practicing for this,” Baluchi responded. “I don’t know what I can do ... I will continue, though.”

That is, until Saturday, when he activated his positioning beacon because of fatigue, Coast Guard officials say. He was transported to shore with no apparent injuries.


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