The Coast Guard typically responds to 20,000 search-and-rescue cases each year. Odds are that their rescue of Reza Baluchi will go down as the strangest mission of 2014.
Baluchi is an Iranian-born U.S. citizen who is an ultra-marathoner and says he is “the first person to run around the world through all 195 countries, spreading a message of liberty and world unity all the way.” He was rescued Saturday from an inflatable “hydro bubble” 70 nautical miles east of St. Augustine, Fla., by a Coast Guard search-and-rescue crew.
Baluchi was using the bubble in an effort to “run” about 1,000 miles from Miami to Bermuda. He did not come close and the press responded to the rescue with great amusement.
Baluchi 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.
Baluchi 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 back to Miami, according to Baluchi’s website, Run with Reza.
He even had a slickly produced video created to promote his bold venture. The purpose of the bubble voyage? Baluchi’s goal is to raise money for children in need and give inspiration to those who have lost hope, the Miami Herald reported.
Not everyone was amused, however.
“So do you plan to pay for the huge expense you cost the taxpayers with your bubble wheel stunt? The Coast Guard is not cheap,” reads one post on Baluchi’s Facebook page.
“I do not know how much you have in donations, as far as I am concerned you should have to pay back the U.S. coast guard for rescuing you from your own stupidity!?,” reads another.
How did this stunt accomplish anything that resembles world peace??” reads a third posting.
Undaunted, Baluchi said he wants to try the adventure again.
"My goal is to finish the trip. It's like chasing a dream," he told First Coast News.