Barefoot Rick's Blue Planet Run - August 18, 2007

More than one billion people on Earth who do not have daily access to safe drinking water. Many of them, mostly women and children, walk up to six hours every day to get it. Six thousand people a day - 2.2 million a year, mostly children - are dying because they drink water that is not safe.

But there is a solution. That solution begins with a step, followed by a million more.

Since June 1st, 20 runners representing 13 countries have been running 24 hours a day through 16 countries in the first-ever around- the-world relay. The Run, sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company will culminate in New York City on September 4th.

On a hot, humid Saturday in the middle of August in the Heartland, I joined up with the Blue Planet Runners in southwest Overland Park, Kansas and ran a 10+ mile segment to south Kansas City, Missouri. Laurel, who was the Blue Planet runner for this segment was joined by myself and three other local runners to run the 10 miler across the Kansas/Missouri state line.

(Left) The two guys on the outside are Blue Planet support team. Local runner Justin Andrews and Barefoot Rick.
(Right) The official baton handoff at the south Overland Park Kansas exchange point.

I decided to go run with them on a whim. I was reading a local running blog late Saturday morning (8/18) stating the Blue Planet Runners would be coming through the Kansas City area. An hour later, I was in my truck heading for the south Overland Park exchange point. I really didn't know if they would let me run with them since I was not pre-registered. I arrived and there were a couple of cars at the exchange point. I briefly talked with a couple of really gracious Blue Planeteers, and they made it clear that it would be fine to run with their relay runner. A few others arrived before the relay runner arrived a little after 1:30 p.m. We chatted for a few moments and then, three other locals, Laurel and myself took off down 143rd Street toward the Kansas/Missouri state line.

It was definitely hot and humid, but the conversation was so enjoyable that we didn't seem to mind the heat. Laurel was telling us interesting stories of running her legs of the relay across Siberia Russia and the wonderful flat areas. (We all commented that Eastern Kansas didn't live up to Siberia's flatness.) My barefootedness was a subject of conversation. I asked them how many barefoot runners the team had ran with so far. I was the first (and maybe the last! Hah!). Anyway, I had mentioned that barefoot runner Ken Bob Saxton had applied to be a Blue Planet runner but did not get accepted. Laurel thought that was a shame because she thought that would have been a lot of fun having a barefoot runner as a relay runner. (During the van ride back to my vehicle, David (Prague), Heiko (Germany), and Paul (Scotland) all agreed it would have been a blast having a barefoot runner on the team.)

The Blue Planet vans kept track of us along the way, telling us where to turn. As we were on State Line Road, Heiko from Germany took over for Laurel with about 2 miles to go to the exchange point. I think Laurel was supposed to run another segment later in the day, so they wanted to save some of her strength. It was great talking to Heiko. He is a competitive runner who trained a lot barefoot as a younger guy. He respected my barefootedness and my injury-free running.

We hit the exchange point of a little over 10 miles in 1:32:33. Not bad for as hot and humid as it was. I really had not expected to run the entire segment but to turn around after 5 miles and head back to get my truck. I was having such a good time with the runners, that I continued on. Now, I had to figure out how to get back. No problem. The Blue Planeteers would drive me back. I then volunteered to lead them to their next exchange point down at Crown Center near downtown Kansas City.

All in all: A remarkable day! I am so glad that I got to be part of history -- the longest relay ever organized, attempted, and soon to be completed on September 4th in New York City. It was wonderful being part of such an awesome event that is trying to do a simple thing such as help provide clear, clean drinking water to the world. I am blessed to have been a part of this extraordinary event!

Having a Blessed Blue Planet Barefoot Blast!

Barefoot Rick

Click Here for the Blue Planet Report - Day 79 - Kansas City


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