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Relay with a worldwide purpose

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. With more than 12,000 miles already under their collective belt, a group of 20 runners are pounding the global pavement for a noble cause.And they’re passing through Glenwood Springs on Sunday.With individual runners exchanging batons every 10 miles and raising money for safe drinking water projects in the process, these runners are homing in on the finish of a globe-circling relay dubbed the Blue Planet Run.By Sept. 4 when they pull into New York City at run’s end, the Blue Planet crew will have covered some 15,200 miles, across 16 countries and four continents.And all in 95 days, 24 hours a day. Jin Zidell, founder and chairman of the Blue Planet Run, birthed the idea through epiphany nearly six years ago.”I was walking around a lake in Northern California and there were a lot of runners around,” he recalled. “As I was looking around, two runners ran in front and literally the words came in mind, ‘Run around the world for safe drinking water.'”From there, planning took center stage. No simple task.”The logistical complexities are incredible,” Zidell said by phone on Wednesday. “They’ve run over 12,000 miles on time over 90-minute increments. It’s impressive.”From complex route planning to recruiting runners and sponsors, it took tons of sweat and manpower for the Blue Planet Run to come together.But it’s all worth it, says Zidell, who himself has already funded more than 100 safe drinking water projects out of his own pocket. After all, the water issue is ravaging the globe.”I’ve traveled around the world,” said Zidell, who describes himself as an industrialist, philanthropist and environmentalist. “I had surely known it was a problem but I didn’t know the magnitude. Lack of safe drinking water is the largest cause of health-related death. “Another way to get an idea how big a problem it is: Of all the hospital beds in the world, 50 percent of them are filled with people who have unsafe drinking water issues, from water-born diseases. It’s just unbelievable.”The Blue Planet Run is creeping its way east and will hit the Western Slope on Sunday. Runners will exchange batons in Parachute at 3 p.m., then Rifle at 4:30, followed by Silt at 6 p.m. and Glenwood Springs at 9 p.m. A full list of exchange points can be viewed at http://www.blueplanetrun.org.Runner Richard Johnson, a musician from Atlanta, is thoroughly enjoying the global effort. Latching on to the cause, he said, was a no-brainer.”Since I travel for music a lot, I see third-world countries and see they don’t have a lot of things,” he said Wednesday from St. George, Utah. “One thing we can get them is safe drinking water. A lot of people in the states don’t realize what a problem it is.”


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