A Florida ultrarunner who attempted to become the first man to run across the Atlantic Ocean in a man-made hamster wheel has been charged with obstruction of boarding and violation of a captain of the port order. It took the U.S. Coast Guard five days to bring him ashore, as outlined in a criminal complaint filed in Miami.
The U.S. Coast Guard spotted ultrarunner and activist Reza Ray Baluchi 100 kilometres off the coast of Tybee Island, Georgia, on Aug. 26, while he was setting up preparations for the incoming Hurricane Franklin. He began his journey six days earlier on Aug. 20.
According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Baluchi was attempting to ride his man-made “hydro-pod” vessel to England, and he had a Florida registration onboard, which he couldn’t locate for the authorities. When they tried to get Baluchi off the boat, he told them he had a knife, and threatened to harm himself.
On his website, Baluchi stated that his ambition is to run through 195 recognized countries to “inspire us and unite us as a people” and ride his Hydro Pod across the ocean to show the world that anything is possible.
Baluchi told local news that the voyage was intended to raise money for charitable causes that include helping the homeless, the U.S. Coast Guard and the fire department.
This isn’t the first time Baluchi has attempted to cross the ocean in his Hydro Pod. In 2015, he received a captain of the port order from the Coast Guard that applied to any subsequent voyages. Baluchi failed to comply with the order and was stopped in his homemade vessel in 2016. He attempted another voyage in 2021, where the Coast Guard intervened again.
In 2007, Reza reportedly ran around the perimeter of the U.S. He ran over 18,000 kilometres in 202 days to raise money for The Children’s Hospital of Denver.
Court records show that Baluchi posted a $250,000 bond on the day he was charged.