REDONDO BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Reza Baluchi is no stranger to adventure.
The Iranian native and Orange County resident has spent the last seven years biking across 55 countries in six continents before embarking on his latest attempt to become the first person to “run” to Catalina Island and back.
Baluchi left Redondo Beach King Harbor on Friday morning in a man-made plastic bubble and hopes to make the 27-mile jaunt to Catalina in 12 hours – allowing extra time for currents – and then return home Saturday in about 10 hours.
The “SS Captain Bubble” is comprised of an inflatable Zorb ball inside of a paddle wheel-like circular frame, which uses inflated soccer balls around the wheel’s circumference as stabilizers for the contraption.
Baluchi – who designed the bubble specifically for the trip to Catalina – will be escorted by a boat provided by City2 Sea, a Redondo Beach-based nonprofit organization.
The 41-year-old former professional cyclist left Iran in 1996 as a political refugee and has made two cross-country runs from Santa Monica to New York City in 2003 and 2009, as well as running 11,720 miles around the perimeter of the continental United States in 2007.
But Baluchi said the Catalina run to benefit a charity called Plant Unity is more than just an exercise in thrill-seeking.
“Your mind is strong, you can do anything you want,” he said. “I try to show people you can make a better place for children around the world.”
If his adventure is successful, Baluchi said he already has his next challenge in mind: running all the way to the Hawaiian Islands.