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The Green Life: Henry Sanchez, Barefoot Environmentalist, Goes the Distance

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August 04, 2011

Henry Sanchez, Barefoot Environmentalist, Goes the Distance

Barefoot running On June 15, 2008, Colombian professor and mathematician Henry Sanchez took off his shoes at South America's southernmost point and started running. Now the barefoot ultramarathoner is approaching the U.S.-Mexico border. Final destination? Alaska.

The Forrest Gump reference is easy to make, but Sanchez is hardly running for running's sake. The shoeless missionary has been spreading the good word of green in each of the 14 countries that he's jogged through. With the help of local organizations, people in South and Central America have planted 7 million trees in his wake.

Though the campaign's biggest success has been replanting some of the world's most crucial forests, its scope is even bigger. In addition to those trees planted, Sanchez helped recycle more than 2,000 tons of waste and kick-started anti-pollution and clean-transit plans. Running barefoot and toting just a few personal effects, he hopes to encourage a return to simplicity.

With 13,000 miles behind him, Sanchez will cross the U.S. border at Tijuana and jog into San Diego on August 18. The original U.S. route called for a straight shot up the West Coast, but a lot has changed in three years. Sanchez's feet now sport hardy calluses, and his quest for environmental awareness has attracted attention. American fans who hope that Sanchez creates as much buzz in the U.S. as he has elsewhere have donated enough at his sponsor's website, Tacolist.com, for Sanchez to consider running to Chicago and New York. 

Alaska is still the ultimate destination, but as for what'll happen between here and there, not even Sanchez can say. To keep track of his journey, check out Tacolist's Facebook page.

--Colin Griffin

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