- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2007

Simon Isaacs was back in the District on Aug. 31, but this time he was not living here, he was merely passing through at the end of a very long run.

“I used to live here. It used to be so hard training here in the swamp called D.C.,” said Isaacs, as he stood in front of the American Indian Museum before taking the baton in the Blue Planet Run. “I ran with the Georgetown Running Company for a year in 2005-2006.”

This summer, the 27-year-old Boston native ran with 20 other athletes from 13 countries, running relay-style around the world to promote safe drinking water. These athletes, Isaacs said, ranged in age from 23 to 61 and came from all walks of life: lawyers, gardeners, a Kenyan marathoner, a Jazz musician and development people like Isaacs, who spent the past year and a half in Rwanda heading up the water, sanitation and irrigation division of the William J. Clinton Foundation.

“This has been an awesome opportunity to be in the confluence of my two passions — development and running,” Isaacs said.

That opportunity took him to the road, running 10 miles a day for 95 days beginning June 1 from the United Nations and ending Sept. 4 at Manhattan”s South Street Seaport. The trek covered 15,200 miles through 16 countries, cutting across Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China, Japan, Canada and the United States.

“We go all through the night,” Isaacs said. “The logistics of this thing is unbelievable. The company who is doing the logistics did the Torch Run Relay.”

A trip of such magnitude is bound to pose challenges while exposing its participants to breathtaking experiences. While the excessive heat of the American heartlands was memorable, the images of Russia and China were easily recalled by Isaacs.

“Russia was to some extent completely monotonous and to some extent wild,” he said. “I had my birthday under the stars of the Gobe Desert [in China]. Every year I run my age. This year was 27 miles. The Mongolian people were so open. We hung out with them. They offered us tea and really sour cheese, [and] formented horse milk. A lot of people got sick.”

According to Isaacs, the mission of the run was to raise awareness and funds for the fact that 1.2 billion people — one-fifth of the world”s population — do not drink safe water.

“People are dying from water-borne issues,” he said. “The big piece of that is water-borne illness. Some 5,000 kids under age five a day are dying. That”s just death. There are a whole slew of people who are sick and cannot go to school and other things.”

Isaacs did not know exactly how much money the run has attracted through the Blue Planet Run Foundation but he did say that “We are asking for $30 donations and 100 percent of the proceeds go to a number of projects, funding smaller rural water programs in rural and remote communities in Africa, Asia and some in Latin America.”

The trip, sponsored by Dow Chemical, also had some other unexpected benefits.

“Two people got married on the trip,” Issacs said. “They met on the trip and got married when we passed through Niagara Falls.”

As Isaacs passed through the District, where the self-described nomad lived in many different locales including Adams Morgan while he worked for the United Nations Foundation here, he was about ready to be done with his global odyssey.

“Four more days,” Isaacs said. “If it were 40 more days it would be tough. Over 1,000 miles, 10 miles a day isn’t so hard. It”s when you add the mileage to the travel to the different food and spending time talking with people and sitting in a van for hours. All of that combined makes it tough.”

His mission completed, Isaacs said he is headed to the other Washington, more specifically Seattle, where he and his girlfriend just bought a home.

Cool beans Online registration for the 112th Boston Marathon on April 21 is open. The maximum field size for 2008 has been set at 25,000 entrants. Some 23,869 runners entered the 2007 race. To qualify, runners must meet the designated time standard for their age group, run on or after Sept. 23, 2006 at a certified marathon. Qualifying standards may be viewed at www.baa.org/BostonMarathon/Qualifying.asp.

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