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Big Trouble in a Little Bubble

October 13, 2014

Bubble Run BermudaThe thing about bubbles is that they usually pop.

Reza Baluchi is the sort of guy that loves to perform extraordinary feats of physical endurance. The former Olympian has biked his way across 55 countries on six continents and once ran 11,720 miles around the perimeter of the United States. Unfortunately, he may go down in history as “That Guy in the Bubble Who Had to be Rescued By the Coast Guard.”

A foolhardy attempt to raise money for charity by running around the Bermuda Triangle in an inflatable bubble concluded with him giving up and calling for help on October 4. A few hours later, the Coast Guard found him about 70 miles off the coast of Florida. The 3,500-mile trek was certainly ambitious, especially the way Baluchi planned to do it. He planned to sleep for only three hours a night, in a hammock he packed in the bubble. To keep cool, he planned to take the occasional dip into the ocean (with the bubble attached to his foot with a cable so it wouldn’t float away).

While he’s one of the world’s toughest marathon runners, Baluchi was no match for the strong currents of the Atlantic Ocean. If everything had gone as planned, his “human powered’ voyage would have led him from Florida down to Bermuda, over to Puerto Rico, and back up to Florida.

After receiving reports about a “strange craft” on October 1, a Coast Guard ship named the Cutter Weber raced to the scene. When the crew discovered that Baluchi’s bubble was only stocked with water, protein bars, and a few other supplies, they tried to get him to toss in the towel. He told them that he had spent two years planning the trip and wasn’t about to give up.

Three days later, Baluchi activated a homing beacon after succumbing to exhaustion. He was pulled out of the water via helicopter and rushed to a medical facility in Florida. “Part of his effort was to make world peace but he got caught up in the Gulf Stream,” a Coast Guard representative told the press. “The chances of muscling out of it were pretty low.”

However, just as we were going to press with this, we noticed a post on Baluchi’s Facebook page saying that he had not actually been asking for rescue—he states that he accidentally pressed his transponder button, which summoned the Coast Guard, which swooped him up, in what he says was just too soon. Baluchi says he passed a medical exam with flying colors, although his bubble was later destroyed when a friendly fishing boat tried to tow it to shore for him.

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