On June 1st, 20 runners set off on perhaps the longest and most important run of their lives. The Blue Planet Run participants will cover 15,200 miles across 16 countries and 4 continents, running 24 hours a day for 95 days to spread an urgent message: that one-sixth of the world's population is without access to safe drinking water, and that something must be done.
Follow two of the runners, Laurel Dudley, a 26-year-old resident of Hawaii, and Melissa Moon, a 37-year-old New Zealand native, as they blog about their journey for Marie Claire.
For more information about the water crisis and Blue Planet Run, go to blueplanetrun.org (opens in new tab)
In the Big Apple
Well here we all are in the Big Apple with one day to go before the epic journey around the world begins. Since I stepped off the plane on Monday, it certainly has been all go! So much information to absorb but its all needed as we have got so much to tell the world as we run around it.
Today we have had a day off and it's been so nice to relax and catch up with my emails to family and friends. Had a fantastic run around Central Park this morning with 5 of the other team members. Emmanuel from Kenya and Jason from Canada and I all decided to add in a bit of speed work during our lap around Central Park. We did 7 x 30 sprints, and after all that flying from New Zealand it was good to stretch the legs out. I was surprised at how good I felt as usually it takes at least 7 days to feel like a runner again after all that flying.
So tonight we have the Dow Cocktail reception followed by the Kick-off Dinner. Our celebrity guest of honour is the actress Hilary Swank - I love her movies so it's going to be nice to meet her.
- Melissa Moon
The Search for Ice
Those of you who know me won't be surprised to learn that (based upon preliminary assessment) I appear to be leading the "most mangled feet" competition among the 20 runners. Is it carelessness? Oblivion? Or running? I don't know, but somehow the past week has witnessed the steady purpling of not just one, but both of my big toe nails. As a front toe striker, this causes some pain during the start of each run. But, I have experienced the painful decay of toenails before. And despite this minor inconvenience, I'm happy to report overall good health.
Of course, icing is part of a regular prevention routine—mostly for my left knee and more recently my tibialus anterior which became slightly inflamed, possibly due to lack of warm up before a "Chris and Polly" photo shoot, our diligent videographers, who take you to the most picturesque spots along the route where you can't help but want to run! And back and forth you will run. I believe Paul mentions something about a "Chris and Polly photo shoot" in his blog.
I discovered that ice was as difficult to come by in Belgium as in France. On the outskirts of Brussels in a Flemish neighborhood, I found a kebab restaurant and headed in with my plastic bag, hoping someone inside would understand French or English. Two men (perhaps brothers?), who I discovered had moved from Iraq four years ago, brought me to the back of the kitchen, took out the sledge hammer, and managed to chop off a bundle of freezer burn from the freezer walls. Apparently they don't make ice in Belgium either. I was very grateful for a full bag of ice, and attempted to explain to them what I was doing (half mime, half English). I'm not sure they understood. But, at least they recognized my sincere appreciation for the ice.
- Laurel Dudley
Early start to catch the ferry to Holyhead, Wales
My team finished running at 8.30pm last night, we had lots of support from the Irish along the way tooting their horns and giving us all the thumbs up - word must be getting out that these people running along major highways with a baton are not just mad, but mad with a wonderful mission to fulfill.
We got to the hotel in Dublin at 11.30pm, straight to bed and then up at 5am the next morning to catch the ferry to Hollyhead, Wales. It was a calm crossing and we arrived in quaint Holyhead about 9am. I could smell the wonderful sea air and their was strong breeze, it made me feel right at home in Wellington.
Our day in Holyhead was spent catching up with some laundry and Taeko ( my Japanese roommate) and I took a trip to the Holyhead launderette. Had a great old time chatting to the owners Pam and Rob from Manchester and getting the locals to teach me some Welsh. I must say I am doing a great old job teaching Taeko English the Kiwi way. We have been working on 'gidday mate' and I will have this Japanese girl talking English with a kiwi accent very well.
I managed to locate a massage therapist in a town nearby, my body was in desperate need after all the flying and 2 hard runs over 10miles. I was very grateful when I went to pay my 30 pounds and they only wanted to charge me 10 pounds because of my involvement with the Blue Planet Run.
I ran the last leg for my team today finishing at 9pm and well I had the most amazing scenic run over a historical bridge ( I love running over bridges), and finishing with the Snowden Mountain in the backdrop.
I am writing this in the van as we drive to our hotel in Swesberry, we don't start till 3pm tomorrow so have a well needed sleep in and then finish closer to London tomorrow evening,. Being so close to London I am going to take the opportunity to pop in and catch up with friends for a meal - really looking forward to that.
Oyasuni ( good night in Japanese - yep I am trying to learn a bit and I have the perfect teacher with Taeko).
Day 12. June 12. 16h40
It's Tuesday, 16h30 and we are leaving Amsterdam heading to Bremen, inching through thick traffic on this overcast day. "They must have heard Blue Planet Run is on its way to Germany and they're heading over!" said Heiko, fellow German teammate. Well, I'm not sure about that. But nonetheless, word about the Blue Planet Run is spreading quickly. During our walk around Amsterdam today, my teammate, the Scotsman Paul, went to purchase a postcard in a small souvenir shop. As he went to pay, the gentleman behind the counter offered him a stamp with postage to England. "But how did you know I'm from England?" asked Paul. And the man pointed at the BPR emblem on Paul's fleece jacket. "You all are running around the world, aren't you?" Evidently, the man had read one of the two morning's papers that featured the BPR relay team and our Dutch teammate, Rudy.
After four days on the 3 to 9pm shift, my team Yellow (also known as Yellow Mellow team, and more affectionately, the Gold Team) has the day off. Tomorrow marks our first night shift—9pm to 3am. I tried to stay up last night (to start the readjustment process) but fatigue overtook and I was out by 1am. Indeed, the heat, constant travel, and bustling excitement that envelopes BPR on-the-road-life all take their toll.
But we're having a blast. Cruising through the French countryside the other day, we stopped along the running route to join a family in their Sunday afternoon badminton game. After equipping our new friends with BPR t-shirts and stickers, they joined us as we tossed the Frisbee. Soon, our friends brought out a cooler of refreshments, and we toasted our glasses of raspberry Belgian beer as Heiko ran by. "OK, gotta hit the road," someone yelled, and we all loaded back into our vans, waving goodbye, and took off to the 9pm exchange point. And last night, while stopped on the side of the road for a baton hand-off to team Blue, a woman came out of her house to offer us tea and cookies. Having seen the BPR banner flying outside her door, she looked up the website, and inspired by the cause, figured we could use a snack . How thoughtful! In the fading 9pm sunlight, on a sidewalk in Belgium, Blue and Yellow team sipped tea chatting with new BPR friend, Rose. What a lovely way to close our shift.
But bad luck struck. Our newest teammate Jason, a backup runner who flew in the day before yesterday to serve in the precautionary role of runner relief, skipped out of the van brimming with excitement to do his second BPR leg. (He helped Team Yellow while Rudy was on press calls.) On mile 2 we noticed a slowed cadence, but Jason hollered back that he was fine, just a rolled ankle.
Unfortunately, hospital x-rays revealed otherwise. At 2am that evening, Jason returned to the hotel outfitted in a cast and crutches. An honorary Team Yellow member for two days, we sadly said goodbye to him this morning as we continued to move eastwards. Jason will fly back to the states tomorrow.
This is a stark reminder of the human body's frailty. One small step, even the most basic move on the most basic terrain, as Jason experienced, could jeopardize our chances of carrying out the rest of the run. And mishaps can happen to any of us. So far, we have been lucky. But, while we live in the excitement of running around the world (truly a dream opportunity and to support a terrific cause), and while we are savoring each moment, we are, on the other hand, checking off each day. Our ability to run is what keeps us part of the team. While we may not voice it, I'm quite sure that fear of injury lurks, if only slightly, in all our minds. One wrong step, one curb, one pothole (or banana peel in Mary's case) is all it takes. And while the mission of BPR will continue, it is a sad thing to say goodbye to the moving-road-excitement of Blue Planet runners and support crew. Yet, it is a future possible scenario we must each consider.
We wish Jason a thorough and fast recovery and hope to see him sans cast in San Francisco.
- Laurel Dudley
4:23AM Night Shift #2
We are driving in the dim dawn light outside Berlin. The sun will rise by 5. I'm trying to keep both myself and our British driver, 19 year old Kayleigh, awake. Luckily, we're almost to the hotel.
14 days into the trip, and tonight was my first run in the rain. Outside the gleaming van headlights, which follow several yards behind to mark the way, I couldn't see much except for reflectors indicating the flat stretch of roadway ahead. Usually, I don't run with music, but tonight some tunes helped quell the monotony and slow my pace. In the darkness, time and space seem to collapse and lead me to set a faster pace than usual. Maybe I should pick up night racing when I get back. For now, I'm not concerned with speed, but rather focused on setting a smart pace to see me through 700+ miles I will log in by August's end.
Fellow Yellow German teammate Heiko is still kidnapped (somewhere in Berlin doing press events) so tonight the Dutchman, the Scotsman and I each did 12 miles. Team Blue is carrying out the remaining 4 to keep the relay moving on track. While none of us on team Yellow are eager for more miles (just yet anyway), we're happy to chip in to tackle an extra leg when needed. This summer, as BPR logistics Chief Dill said, running is a team sport.
- Laurel Dudley
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