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Rebels Join Blue Planet Run

2 Rebel Runners were featured in this article in The Review, Sept. 11, 2007.

Smarty and Shaggy ran as part of the Blue Planet Run relay across the globe, as the event passed through Delaware.

Blue Planet Run route
Blue Planet Run global route
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From desert to Delaware: running for the world's water

Blue Planet Run

by Sara Wahlberg, The Review - UD Student Newspaper
Issue date: 9/11/07 Section: Mosaic

At 11 a.m. on Dec. 17, 2001, Jin Zidell was walking his terrier, Norbu, around Phoenix Lake in Marin County, Calif. He walks there every morning, in the enormous watershed where his community gets its clean drinking water. As two runners ran past him that morning, an idea came to him that would change his life, and possibly the world.

This moment was how Zidell began Blue Planet Run, the 95-day relay race across the globe that took place this summer. The goal of the run was to raise awareness about the clean-drinking water crisis in the world, Zidell says.

"I was absolutely astounded by the breadth of this pandemic," Zidell says. "Six thousand people die each and every day because of the lack of safe drinking water in their communities."

The run started on June 1 in New York City on the lawn of the United Nations and ended on Sept. 4 at the South Street Seaport in the same city, after crossing through 16 countries, 4 continents and covering 15,200 miles, including a few through Newark.

Five teams of four runners each participated in the run, Zidell says. Four teams ran each day, with each runner covering 10 miles in 90 minutes. The team of twenty runners was chosen from all over the world, from many different cultures, religions, occupations and 13 countries.

Mary Chervenak, one of the runners from Winston-Salem, N.C., says the route took her through several different countries that she would like to visit again, including Ireland, France, Austria and Russia.

"My most amazing run was in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia," Chervenak says. "It was four in the morning and freezing cold, but when the sun rose, the sky turned a million different colors and it was absolutely breathtaking."

Chervenak also ran through Newark on her route.
"I ran through the parking lot of the Wavelength Day Spa near campus," Chervenak says. "It was about 4:30 in the morning, and honestly, I felt fortunate just to be standing at that point."

Along with Chervenak, Kenyan runner Emmanuel Kibet and guest runners and pacers Chris James and Scott Hodukavich, both Newark residents, also ran legs of the race through Delaware.

James and Hodukavich say they found out about the race through their local running club in Delaware, the Rebel Runners. It was an opportunity they both jumped at because they are avid runners.

"It seemed like a very good cause and something that is probably overlooked with all the world's other issues," James says. "I can help support these runners who are trying to make a difference and more than anything, Blue Planet Run sparked awareness about the issue."

Although the participants were experts on running and trained extensively, some say they still considered the race challenging, and being away from family was hard. The support team members gave each other was what got them through even the roughest days of the race.

"I found the pace kind of punishing," Chervenak says about her 10-mile-per-day runs. "But even after all the hardships and illnesses, I think every single one of us would do it again. It was the experience of a lifetime."

The money raised from the event will go toward 135 water projects in 13 countries in Asia, Africa and South America to a range of organizations, Zidell says. One hundred percent of the donations go toward clean water, and the Dow Chemical Company sponsored the run.

Zidell says he hopes the run will continue every two years, to avoid competing with the Olympics and the World Cup. His goal is to raise $8.5 million and bring safe drinking water to 200 million people in the next twenty years.

The run was symbolic to Zidell and supporters of the human connection in the world and the building of the community. Each runner on every leg of the race carried one baton, and Zidell insisted that Blue Planet Run's message, "Water is life. Pass it on," be said every time the baton switched hands, to remind the runners of the message they were spreading around the world.

"Tens of millions of young children don't go to school because they are fetching water from distant sources," Zidell says. "Fifty percent of hospital beds worldwide are occupied by people who drank unsafe drinking water. We have a serious problem here and we have a real answer, so let's take care of it."

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