Running Dry: Why I am Running 100 Marathons in 100 Days

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Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to ask people what water means to them. During the 7 Deserts Run in 2016, I was haunted (and still am) by this comment from one person I met: “The question isn’t if the water will run out in Jordan, it is when. Perhaps it will be in my lifetime, [it will] definitely be in my children’s lifetime.”

A year later, during the 6 River Run, I met an entrepreneur who has, along with his colleagues, designed an organic, pottery water filtration system called Project Myaah. Omar told me that he had been on a trip to his native Egypt and went to a village in Asyut, “where people dig 20 metres in the ground to get water. The water that comes out is highly contaminated -- it’s not drinkable.” And yet people are forced to use this water to drink, clean and shower and the result is that they are often forced to go to hospital each month to remove kidney stones.

Over two expeditions, I have run more than 3,368 km on seven continents to bring attention to the unfolding global water crisis and to learn more about the everyday heroes who, like Omar, whose innovations are enacting real, positive changes.

But there’s more to be done. The fact is, most of us take water for granted, so much so that if we don’t make serious changes today, by 2030 the global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40%.

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Announcing my next expedition: Running Dry

This November, I am lacing up my shoes for a third time. Each of my two previous challenges were 40 days. This time, my goal is to run 100 marathons in 100 days around the world. This run is all about getting a global community together to make changes as we try to stop the world’s water supply from running dry. I am measuring the success of this expedition not in kilometres run, but in changes we make because #EveryDropCounts.

Clean water and sanitation is the United Nations’ Global Goal 6. Even though November’s start date is still a few months away, I wanted to launch this initiative today, on World Water Day 2018, because there is an urgent need to start making changes. I’ve partnered with Reebok and Colgate for this run and here’s one example of a change you can easily make: turn off the tap, while brushing your teeth and save on average 15 litres of water.

There is no single way to go about changing daily habits. I remember as a teenager being shocked to learn just how much water went into raising cattle and then later, as an adult, understanding the true water cost of a single cotton t-shirt. My own water journey has meant taking a hard look at the decisions I make as a consumer and seeing what changes I could -- and needed -- to make. If you haven’t done this before, I encourage you to know your water footprint. It was an eye-opener for me and one of the many reasons that inspired me to begin these running challenges.

I am not a runner. Or, at least, I am not a natural athlete with some out-of- world talent for running. During each expedition I have faced challenges and setbacks, some small and some large. Last year, I was in Australia and an old hip injury flared up. One day I set off for a 50-km run at 5 am and didn’t finish until 9 pm that night because I was forced to walk the entire 50 km. This is what I looked like. I write this because I don’t think running 100 marathons or making changes are easy. But these are changes we need to make.

Over the next few months, I’ll be writing more about my training and preparations, and also about water-wise changes we can make. Not every idea will work with your life but I’m hoping that some will or, at the very least, that some ideas will inspire you to make whatever changes you can make. If you also want to run, we’ll be sharing some tips and ideas here as well. I’m asking you to join us. You can get in touch with me on Twitter or Instagram -- I’m @minaguli -- or use #EveryDropCounts and tweet us your ideas on how we can make better changes for our planet.

I will run 4,200 km over the course of these 100 marathons. Here’s to putting one foot in front of the other and to helping make a better future.