Blue Planet Network And The Race Across America

[click “Play” to listen to Susan’s conversation wih Jin Zidell]


JinZidell-closeup Mountainfilm in Telluride’s theme, “Awareness into Action,” comes to life in this story about Blue Planet Network.

December 10, 2001, just one year after the death of his wife from cancer, part-time Telluride local Jin Zidell took a walk around a lake near his home in Marin County, CA. When two runners passed by, Jin had an epiphany:

 “Around the world for safe drinking water flashed in my mind.”

To honor the memory of his wife, Jin determined to create an event about the size of the safe drinking water issue: in other words, BIG.

Water, water everywhere and not a safe drop for 1 in 5 people (1.2 billion) on this planet to drink, which translates to 2.2 million deaths each year. Every day, 8,000 people die of AIDS, but 300 percent more, 25,000 people, die daily from diseases related to unsafe drinking water. About 400 children under age 5 die every hour from diarrhea. Fifty percent of the worlds hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from water issues. Many women and children spend up to 6 hours per day fetching water that some families spend up to 25% of their income to purchase.

Following the time-tested model of linking an event to a cause and the examples of Live Aid concerts for famine relief, walks to help fund breast cancer research and bicycle rides to combat muscular dystrophy, Jin Zidell conceived of Blue Planet Run and The World Foot Race.

In 2002, Jin moved to Telluride, where plans for Blue Planet Run took shape. The first race around the world began five years later, on June 1, 2007. The first runner left the south lawn of the UN at 11 am. Twenty runners – 8 women, 12 men, from 13 nationalities, age range 23 to 60, different occupations – ran relay style 24 hours a day for 95 days. The team ran 15,200 miles across 16 countries and circumnavigated the earth. (No, though they are all saints, no one on the team actually ran on water.)

By 2008, Blue Planet Run had become Blue Planet Network, assisting 1,031 projects benefiting 750,000 people worldwide. The long-term goal over the next 20 years: provide safe drinking water to 200 million people living in rural communities in developing nations. Since 2008, Blue Planet Network stopped organizing events. Instead its Team Blue is in charge of the blood, sweat and tears, leaving Jin, founder/chair, to do strategic thinking and work on his award-winning Peer Water Exchange, a game changer.

The next event from Team Blue for BPN is The Race Across America (RAAM), a 3,000 mile bicycle race across the USA. (The Tour de France is under 2,300 miles long.) RAAM includes  Solo, 2 person teams, 4 person teams, and 8 person teams.  One solo, a 2 person team and a 4 person team are raising money for Blue Planet Network.  Katie Spotz, the youngest woman ever to row across the Atlantic, is  a member of the two-person team. Katie is sponsored by Levi’s, who will be posting videos of her progress on Telluride Inside… and Out.

“The name Blue Planet Network reflects what we have become. We now have 77 partners in 24 countries. “

For more on Blue Planet Network, click the “play” button and listen to Jin’s interview.

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