Digging Deep with the Incredible Rudy Van Prooyen

While some of us will be inside enjoying the wonders of air conditioning the rest of this summer, Rudy Van Prooyen will be biking 2,000 miles in 40 days starting in San Francisco. Unbelievably this is after he warms up by completing the San Francisco Marathon on July 26th.

He will travel through some fourteen metropolitan areas including here in the Southeast, with Washington DC as the final destination. He is raising $20,000 for the Blue Planet Run Foundation, which translates roughly into $10 per mile.
I caught up with Rudy this past week and here is what he had to say.
So, how did you get originally involved with Blue Planet Run?

I first heard about the Blue Planet Run at the Atlanta Marathon Expo in November 2006 and was shocked to learn that so many people lacked access to safe drinking water. Going from attraction to action, I logged on to www.blueplanetrun.org that night, applied for the Blue Planet Run, and made a donation to the cause. Never thinking to hear from them again, several months later they contacted me for an interview. Over the next several months more than 350 applicants were screened and reviewed and I ended up as one of the 21 runners selected.

I felt exuberant and honored to be included in this incredible mission. A truly life changing moment and I will never forget it.

Why did you choose safe drinking water?

The facts are that unlike all of us, over one billion people on earth have no safe drinking water. Women and children may walk up to 6 hours a day to get water, and even then, it may not be enough, or safe enough to drink.

Many drink contaminated water and then get sick. 2.2 million human beings die each year from water borne illnesses. 6,000 people die every day and 240 children die every hour. But there is hope, because the solutions are so simple and collectively we have the power to solve this human crisis that is going on in front of our very own eyes, tragically mostly unnoticed.

How do you hope this coast-to-coast cycling adventure will raise awareness of clean water issues?

While fundraising is one of my goals, I hope that I can also create more awareness. Before I met the Blue Planet Foundation, I had an idea about worldwide water problems, but not a clue about the range, types and size.

I have learned much since then, but found out from giving presentations on the subject matter, that many others, including educators, today are not well informed on the size and scope of the core water problems. The technology today of social networks like facebook, twitter, youthnoise, linkedin etc. makes it possible to get a message out fast and furious.

So my iphone and me will try our best to inform my network of friends of the crisis and urgency to participate in solving this human tragedy. Then I hope that many will see the need for speed to save lives, and follow my ride electronically or on the road and help with a donation. When that happens, I will be able to call this “Rudy” initiative a success. See the zero carbon footprint Blue Planet Ride unfold on www.tourdewater.blogspot.com.

What is the biggest hurdle in preparing for this type of an event?

For me without little prior experience it is important to be flexible and not get overzealous on ideas and aspirations. The only objective is to raise funds and awareness and get across the land without cuts and bruises, everything else is commentary.

One of the challenges certainly is the limited amount of luggage I can carry since it is an unsupported ride. Everything for the 50- days transcontinental voyage must fit on the rack and panniers. And since this is a one-way trip I can’t use a hard case for the bike and have to resort to a used cardboard box from the bike store. So far the planning is going well and friends and family have been very supportive. And when the going gets tough I will just have to dig deep, grind my teeth and think about all those people that lack access to safe drinking water and are struggling and dying because of contaminated water sources. That will keep me motivated for sure.

What is your training schedule this week?

Since my bike ride begins with a marathon run in San Francisco I train by running three days a week, then spin and swim four days a week and ride on the trainer or on the road two hours twice a week. I bought the Bike-o-Vision DVD series, that ones inserted in to the player takes my stationary bike ride on High Definition scenic routes throughout the US and Europe without any danger of heatstroke, wildlife, dogs and road rage drivers.

How can someone help you?

Readers, interested parties and abolitionists, can simply make a donation and appeal and pass on my blog and messages to their circle of friends and family. Since I will be passing through some major metropolitan areas, anyone can involve themselves by fundraising for the event on a local level.

I will be happy to get out of the saddle, and hold a town hall meeting over a tall glass of water. I have also allotted time for local fundraising (5 – 10 K) runs or rides with running and cycling clubs. A corporation can sponsor one of the five scenic byways I will be riding, for a certain $ amount or simply make it part of their corporate social responsibility program. This information is detailed on my blog and people can email me for further information at: rudy@blueplanetrun.org

What advise would you pass on to a dad with young children?

My advise is to teach our children that we are collectively responsible to take care of one and other, near and far, no matter what creed, color or religion. And that only by role modeling our actions we can be an example to them, so that they can learn this most valuable life lesson and sustain this obligation from generation to generation. Because making a positive difference is our duty and should be a human response for living on this planet.

Way to go Rudy! I will be looking forward to reading the updates. I like this quote below from Rudy’s blog:

“There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” -Jawaharlal Nehru

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this great article! Rudy, you are doing a great act and we are behind you 100%!

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