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Running Around the World for Clean Water

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Running Around the World for Clean Water

Environment

Running Around the World for Clean Water

Running Around the World for Clean Water

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NPR'S John Ydstie talks to Dot Helling of Vermont, a participant in the Blue Planet Run, which got under way this week. For the next three months, 20 athletes will run a relay race around the world around the clock, to raise awareness about the need for clean drinking water.

Yesterday, Blue Planet Run got underway in Manhattan. It's being built as the first ever round-the-world relay race. Over the next three months, a team of 20 international runners will cover more than 1,500 miles over four continents. Each athlete will run about 10 miles a day before passing a baton to a teammate, all for the sake of raising awareness about the need for clean drinking water worldwide.

Attorney Dot Helling of Montpelier, Vermont, is one of the participants. We caught up with her earlier this week in New York. So how will this work exactly?

Ms. DOT HELLING (Attorney, Vermont; Participant, Blue Planet Run): We're broken into five sub teams, 4 teams are on, and one is off every fifth day. And we're rotating running 24/7 around the clock until we come back to New York on September 4th.

YDSTIE: And what about the oceans, are you going to be running aboard ship?

Ms. HELLING: We're not. We are actually going to fly across the Atlantic and the Pacific and use that time to rest.

YDSTIE: Very good idea. And how many miles overall do you think you will run personally?

Ms. HELLING: I'm probably going to run between 800 and 1,000 miles total.

YDSTIE: And you'll actually be passing off a baton.

Ms. HELLING: At each 10-mile exchange point, we're passing off a baton and we're having a little ceremony, and we'll be educating the communities about the safe drinking water problem which is massive. And it's a critical issue. There are over a billion people that don't have safe drinking water. And it's an easy problem to solve as you get people the knowledge and the means to do it.

And the beauty of the Blue Planet Run Foundation is that it provides the resources for communities to do it themselves, so that the fix is sustainable. And this fix is not about delivering bottled water. It's about making water available in this community.

YDSTIE: Well, how many pairs of running shoes do you think are going to go through in this race?

Ms. HELLING: Well, you know, that's funny. We have so much stuff to carry and I came here with four new pairs of shoes and I sent one back, so I'm going with three brand new pairs of shoes, which should be sufficient.

YDSTIE: I read in your bio that the tune "Tip Toe Through The Tulips" sometimes runs through your mind as you are running. That could drive you crazy, I would think.

Ms. HELLING: It drove me nuts. In fact, that was my first marathon and that was - and it was Tiny Tim singing it on the radio and it's just stuck in my head. And I'd like to tell people that that's why I got to the finish line because I just had to get that tune out of my head. But, you know, it was my mantra that just kept me going.

YDSTIE: Well, good luck, Miss Helling.

Ms. HELLING: Thank you, John.

YDSTIE: Dot Helling on her way to running around the world.

(Soundbite of song "Tip Toe Through The Tulips")

YDSTIE: This is NPR News.

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