Around the World In 95 Days

Runners wrapping up relay race around the world to highlight clean water.

ByABC News
September 2, 2007, 2:09 PM

Sept. 2, 2007 — -- Mary Chervenak's excellent summer adventure started on June 1 at the United Nations.

"I had so much adrenaline pumping, my legs were shaking," said the 39-year-old chemist from North Carolina.

Chervenak is one of 21 people from 13 countries who put their jobs and families on hold to run a relay around the world. By the time the runners finish back in New York this Tuesday, they will have covered more than 15,000 miles and traversed 16 countries in four continents.

The round-the-clock relay will be completed in 95 days.  It is being sponsored by the Blue Planet Run Foundation, a non-profit organization that was founded five years ago and is dedicated to raising global awareness and money for safe drinking projects in the developing world. 

Blue Planet has already funded more than 130 such projects in third-world countries. According to the World Health Organization, one in five people around the world lacks access to clean water and sanitation. As a result, waterborne diseases kill more people than AIDS, and nearly 2 million children die each year from diarrhea alone.  

From New York, the runners headed to Boston, then through Ireland, Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, each running 10 miles a day.   During every hand-off, the runners pass a baton carrying their global water pledge and recommit themselves to making a difference by going the distance.   

By the time the team crossed from Europe to Asia into Central Russia on July 4, team members were definitely feeling the effects of constant running.  The unfamiliar food, less-than-ideal sleeping accommodations and lack of hot showers were taking their toll on the group -- not to mention the various scrapes, aches and blisters afflicting many in the team.