Barefoot Runner Trots GlobeUnion Tribune September 2011 - Shelby Stanger
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Barefoot Runner Trots Globe to Benefit Environment

San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA)
September 6, 2011
Section: Front Page
Edition: First Edition
Page: A-1
Column: IN DEPTH
Barefoot runner trots globe to benefit environment
SHELBY STANGER SPECIAL TO THE U-T

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Henry Sanchez Pardo is visiting in San Diego County. It’s his latest stop in what has been a three-year journey from Argentina — a barefoot ultramarathon.

The Colombian math professor has logged more than 18,000 miles for what he proclaims as his mission to raise awareness about environmental degradation, particularly deforestation. He has worked with eco-groups and others from nation to nation to plant trees, launch trash-cleanup events and hold educational talks.

So far, Pardo said, his campaign has resulted in the planting of more than 7 million trees.

He plans to continue highlighting his cause as he runs from here to other cities across the United States, with the final destination in Alaska. His projected completion date for the trip: fall 2012.

“Climate change is obvious in all the countries I have gone to, but I am convinced through awareness and education that we can make a change,” said Pardo, a math professor at Universidad Libre in Bogota, Colombia.

“Since I was given the gift of being able to run barefoot, I feel like I was born to do this.”

With a small backpack, running shorts and whatever cotton T-shirts people give him along his travels, Pardo has jogged through 15 countries. He crossed from Mexico into San Diego two weeks ago and intends to stay in the area until mid-month for activities such as a Sept. 17 cross-border cleanup event.

Pardo has run ultramarathons for other causes over the years.

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He finished one to help pay for his college education. In 2001, he ran 745 miles in Colombia to raise money for a senior center. Two years later, he traversed 1,430 miles to solicit funds for a community center for the disabled.

Pardo said he became zealous about the environment while teaching a math course to a group of environmental engineers. He said the students opened his eyes to pollution and other ecological challenges.

“I’ve always believed to inspire students, you need to teach what you believe and live it firsthand, even when it is difficult,” he said. “This is a world problem and I knew I needed to do something beyond just Colombia.”

In June 2008, Pardo said farewell to his wife and two children, went to Patagonia, Argentina, and started his latest ultramarathon.

Fire stations along the journey have provided accommodations for Pardo, who also is a volunteer firefighter. When one wasn’t available, supporters from environmental organizations or other groups would open their homes to him. Pardo is currently staying near Santee Lakes.

The trip has been momentous for him.

When he reached La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, businesses and residents shut off all their lights for an hour and numerous people joined him for a run, both to promote energy conservation.

In Peru, Pardo stayed with an indigenous tribe and learned how to lead a simpler, more environmentally sustainable life.

In Mexico City, locals worked with him to plant more than 100,000 trees in five days.

A few months before arriving in the United States, Pardo met two entrepreneurs who had established the website Tacolist.com, a type of Craigslist for Latin American communities. Those founders — Rafael Barragan and Michele J. Harris — said last week that they were inspired by Pardo’s passion and decided to sponsor the rest of his trip.
Henry Sanchez Pardo is visiting in San Diego County. It’s his latest stop in what has been a three-year journey from Argentina — a barefoot ultramarathon.

The Colombian math professor has logged more than 18,000 miles for what he proclaims as his mission to raise awareness about environmental degradation, particularly deforestation. He has worked with eco-groups and others from nation to nation to plant trees, launch trash-cleanup events and hold educational talks.

So far, Pardo said, his campaign has resulted in the planting of more than 7 million trees.

He plans to continue highlighting his cause as he runs from here to other cities across the United States, with the final destination in Alaska. His projected completion date for the trip: fall 2012.

“Climate change is obvious in all the countries I have gone to, but I am convinced through awareness and education that we can make a change,” said Pardo, a math professor at Universidad Libre in Bogota, Colombia.

“Since I was given the gift of being able to run barefoot, I feel like I was born to do this.”

With a small backpack, running shorts and whatever cotton T-shirts people give him along his travels, Pardo has jogged through 15 countries. He crossed from Mexico into San Diego two weeks ago and intends to stay in the area until mid-month for activities such as a Sept. 17 cross-border cleanup event.

Pardo has run ultramarathons for other causes over the years.

He finished one to help pay for his college education. In 2001, he ran 745 miles in Colombia to raise money for a senior center. Two years later, he traversed 1,430 miles to solicit funds for a community center for the disabled.

Pardo said he became zealous about the environment while teaching a math course to a group of environmental engineers. He said the students opened his eyes to pollution and other ecological challenges.

“I’ve always believed to inspire students, you need to teach what you believe and live it firsthand, even when it is difficult,” he said. “This is a world problem and I knew I needed to do something beyond just Colombia.”

In June 2008, Pardo said farewell to his wife and two children, went to Patagonia, Argentina, and started his latest ultramarathon.

Fire stations along the journey have provided accommodations for Pardo, who also is a volunteer firefighter. When one wasn’t available, supporters from environmental organizations or other groups would open their homes to him. Pardo is currently staying near Santee Lakes.

The trip has been momentous for him.

When he reached La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, businesses and residents shut off all their lights for an hour and numerous people joined him for a run, both to promote energy conservation.

In Peru, Pardo stayed with an indigenous tribe and learned how to lead a simpler, more environmentally sustainable life.

In Mexico City, locals worked with him to plant more than 100,000 trees in five days.

A few months before arriving in the United States, Pardo met two entrepreneurs who had established the website Tacolist.com, a type of Craigslist for Latin American communities. Those founders — Rafael Barragan and Michele J. Harris — said last week that they were inspired by Pardo’s passion and decided to sponsor the rest of his trip.

Henry Sanchez Pardo is visiting in San Diego County. It’s his latest stop in what has been a three-year journey from Argentina — a barefoot ultramarathon.

The Colombian math professor has logged more than 18,000 miles for what he proclaims as his mission to raise awareness about environmental degradation, particularly deforestation. He has worked with eco-groups and others from nation to nation to plant trees, launch trash-cleanup events and hold educational talks.