ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida – The rescue of a Florida man who set off in a human-powered bubble to Bermuda cost authorities $144,000.
The Coast Guard warned long-distance runner Reza Baluchi on his satellite phone that the journey was risky and there was no guarantee they’d be able to help if he ran into trouble.
Baluchi replied that he was continuing anyway.
Coast Guard officials used a radar and camera that can see through pitch darkness to later locate the man. A chopper lowered a rescue swimmer into the water and found Baluchi lying down inside his bubble.
His goal had been to travel more than a thousand miles to raise money for charity.
Baluchi has made headlines many times before with previous efforts to break long-distance running and cycling records , including one six-month journey in which he ran around the perimeter of the United States, and a seven-year bike trip that he said brought him across 55 countries on six continents. His self-professed mission is to promote world peace and unity. His perimeter run was to raise money for a children’s hospital, according to his website.
Baluchi was granted asylum in the United States in 2003 after being arrested in Iran for so-called pro-Western and anti-Islamic activities, including eating during the holy month of Ramadan, according to his lawyer at the time, Suzannah Maclay. Baluchi served 1 1/2 years in jail for associating with “counterrevolutionaries” and was hung from a tree by handcuffs for carrying a prohibited movie, Maclay said. The Coast Guard described him as a U.S. Citizen.
The “Hydro Pod” is a large bubble made of 3-mm- (0.11-inch)-thick plastic, Baluchi’s website, “Run With Reza” says. The bubble, which he propelled forward by running inside and pushing it with his arms, was housed in a large aluminum-type frame studded at intervals with inflated soccer balls. A man who appears on a video during the bubble’s construction compares it to a hamster wheel.
According to the site, Baluchi planned to run in the bubble in the mornings, cool off in the sea while leashed to the floating sphere, and sleep in a hammock inside it at night. In addition to the protein bars the Coast Guard said it found in his bubble, he planned to catch and eat fish, the site said.