On Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued endurance athlete and peace activist Reza Baluchi 70 nautical miles off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida. He was trying to run from Florida to Bermuda to promote world peace.
Baluchi, known around the world for his running and cycling feats, spent the better part of two years designing and testing a "Hydro Pod" capable of letting him run across water. Basically, it's a giant plastic bubble, and yes, it looks like a hamster wheel.
According to the Coast Guard, patrols responded to reports of "a man aboard an inflatable hydro bubble who was disoriented asking for directions" on Wednesday, Oct. 1. Baluchi refused their help, but they later responded when he activated a personal beacon on Oct. 4. First Coast News reports Baluchi may have accidentally activated the beacon.
Whatever the case may be, Baluchi's stunt and the ensuing rescue's media attention can't help the general public perception of running, especially ultra running. As Runner's World put it, "Some consider distance runners to be extremists, and a headline out of Florida this past weekend probably won’t help matters."
In the meantime, we've come up with seven new suggestions for Baluchi to try once he's done with his attempt in Bermuda. Running across the ocean in a bubble's got nothing on these babies:
1. Russian road rage
Sometimes the most impressive feats of human endurance come from one's ability to withstand his or her fellow humans. Forget running across the ocean! Try making it across Russia's roadways with road rage-inclined motorcyclists and drivers like the gentleman above. It'd be a great test of your peaceful mission, Baluchi!
2. Wreckage of the RMS Titanic
When a Franco-American expedition discovered the remnants of the famous ship in 1985, decades of misreported facts and faulty assumptions were finally laid to rest. One of the chief falsities was the ship itself, which had broken in half before landing a third of a mile from each other in a canyon on the continental shelf. James Cameron's got nothing on you, Baluchi - grab your trust running-capable diving suit and turn that 0.6 kilometer distance into something special.
3. Mariana Trench
Jack's watery grave not good enough? How about the deepest point on the planet? At a depth of almost seven miles, the 1,580-mile long trench is nowhere near as long as the Appalachian Trail, and hikers and runners finish that baby every year! Maybe, with Cameron's assistance, you could devise a submersible suit capable of protecting you from the intense pressures of the Challenger Deep, while allowing you to run its course.
4. International Space Station
If a mustachioed Canadian can make waves with the first music video recorded in space, then you can attempt the first endurance run out among the stars. Strap yourself into a Soyuz rocket (you'll already know a few Russians at this point) and get on to the International Space Station (ISS). Space being the gravity-less beast that it is, you'll have to strap yourself into a treadmill, but the challenge is to run in place for the longest recorded time in space.
5. The Moon
Then again, you're not one to remain in one place. So go for the moon! It's been decades since the American manned missions last stepped foot on our planet's lone natural satellite, but you could always hitch a ride with one of a number of other countries' space agencies, or go private with SpaceX. Once you reach the lunar surface, put on a spacesuit and run (re: bounce) to your heart's content. But you won't be the first person to do so, so you've got to do something unique. How about the first circumnavigation of the moon by foot?
Last week, Discovery News reported on a NASA-backed study proposing a deep sleep option for the first manned mission to Mars: "The deep sleep, called torpor, would reduce astronauts’ metabolic functions with existing medical procedures. Torpor also can occur naturally in cases of hypothermia." If it works, and with talk of the first tourist missions in 2018, maybe you could be the first person to run an ultra on the Martian surface.
7. Interstellar and beyond
With the space and time-bending physics of Kip Thorne in tow, Christopher Nolan's next fim Interstellar promises to be an invigorating work of visual, narrative art. Maybe it'll even inspire the next generation of space explorers. Just think, Baluchi - you could warp your way across the stars via a wormhole. And if you're running during the experience, you'll become the faster runner ever. It'd be like throwing a baseball from a moving vehicle, except you'd be propelled to speeds faster than light.
For more on this weekend's ordeal, check out the Coast Guard's video of Baluchi's rescue from the bubble: