This past Sunday, Coast Guard officers spotted a man running on the ocean, inside an enormous inflatable hamster wheel.
Stranger than the sight itself was its familiarity. The man inside, Reza Baluchi, has been trying to run an oceanic ultramarathon for a couple of years now. His goal is to raise money for children in need while visiting a variety of countries. As his website sums up, he’s aiming for “a life threatening journey at sea for charity!”
On his last attempt, in October of 2014, Baluchi made it 70 miles east of St. Augustine before signaling for help. “Part of his effort was to make world peace, but he got caught up in the Gulf Stream,” Coast Guard public affairs specialist Mark Barney told CNN at the time. “The chances of muscling out of the Gulf Stream were pretty low.”
This time, the regional Coast Guard picked him up on sight. They then engaged in a brief social media shaming campaign, informing their followers that Baluchi’s pod was “manifestly unsafe” and that taxpayers had borne the brunt of his previous rescue.
#pompanobeach, Reza Baluchi attempting to walk on water and trace the outline of the Bermuda triangle!
They also posted a letter written by a Coast Guard captain last week after an apparent meeting with Baluchi. “I hereby order you not to depart,” the letter reads, citing “a lack of planning and concern for your life.”
According to a 2012 CNN profile, Baluchi has been a transportation escapist from a young age, running away from home in Iran, and then leaving the country altogether by joining a German cycling team. After years spent traveling by bike and foot, Baluchi crossed into the United States by accident, and was granted political asylum after promising to run across America to benefit 9/11 victims. Since then, he has undertaken a number of ambitious long-distance projects.
If the heat, the distance, and geopolitical borders can’t keep Baluchi down, it’s not clear whether the Coast Guard will be able to, either. As he told CNN in 2012, “Until my heart stops beating, I’ll keep running for peace.”