Iranian-born man abandons attempt to 'walk' across ocean from Florida to New York

Endurance athlete had been trying to raise awareness and money for charities

An Iranian-born long-distance runner who tried to “walk” across the ocean from Florida to New York has had to abandon his attempt after only 40 kilometres, landing his giant hamster wheel-like vessel on a beach packed with sunbathers.

Reza Baluchi, 49, said he had planned on raising money for charity by travelling from St Augustine, Florida, to New York using only his leg power — hopefully receiving a little boost from the Gulf Stream.

But The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that he was forced to turn back on Saturday after realising some of his navigation gear and other equipment had been stolen from his so-called hydropod before he set out.

The vessel is a rotating, drum-like cage with laddered steps stretching all the way around the inside. Video on Mr Baluchi's website shows the propelling motion is akin to a hamster on a wheel.

The Sun-Sentinel said Mr Baluchi had been jailed and tortured by Iranian authorities before fleeing to Germany in his 20s and eventually securing political asylum in the US.

His website states Mr Baluchi has spent years biking and running long distances across dozens of countries.

“He delivered a message of peace everywhere he went, shared love and began to experience life in a way many people only dream of,” the website says.

In 2007, Mr Baluchi ran the perimeter of US, notching up about 19,000km over 202 consecutive days and donating the money he raised to The Children’s Hospital of Denver, his website states.

The local sheriff's department at the beach where Mr Baluchi ended his attempt to reach New York said he was unharmed and had come across “some complications that brought him back to shore".

The US Coastguard had previously rescued Mr Baluchi during a failed attempt to reach Bermuda from Florida in 2014.

Updated: July 28th 2021, 8:27 PM
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