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Ultramarathon runner and water activist Mina Guli is passionate about water. So much so, she has broken her leg running one of 200 marathons globally as she heads towards the UN Water Conference in March 2023. Her goal?  To raise awareness of the urgent global water crisis, and to drive action around the world.

So who is Mina Gule and why would she break a leg for water?

Mira is the founder of Thirst and the #RunBlue campaign.  The humble activist says she’s just an ordinary woman,  running across continents to raise awareness for the global water crisis. Running is not what she was born to do, it’s what her heart and concern for the climate crisis has compelled her to act on.

Following a successful 15-year career in law, finance, and climate change, Mina Guli established a non-profit organization called Thirst. This is a young global leaders initiative dedicated to changing the way we think about water. In this week’s Wellness Wednesday, Gisele Wertheim Aymes spoke to Mina Guli, on how her spectacular runs are turning into a global movement.

The World Faces A Water Crisis That Will Impact Longevity

One of the goals of the #RunBlue Campaign is to gain the commitment from 200 companies across the world to take concrete action on the water in advance of the UN Summit on Water. Water is a fundamental part of all aspects of life. With climate change profoundly affecting our economies, societies and environment.

“Today, 40 per cent of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity; 80 per cent of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment, and more than 90 per cent of disasters are water-related.” – António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

No time to waste

Mina’s campaign began in her home county of Uluru in Australia on March 22. She has since completed runs in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.

“The reality is, we actually have no time to waste we’re sitting as someone said to me today sitting on a ticking time bomb, water is an absolutely critical, urgent problem. We not only need companies to take action, but we also need governments, and we need individuals.”

“And we need everybody, whether it’s your household, your company, your daily decisions, we need everybody everywhere to commit to run blue, and to put waterfront of mind.”

Water crisis

Photo by Jong Marshes on Unsplash

Mina ran 40 marathons across 7 deserts on 7 continents in 7 weeks

Though she wasn’t a natural runner to begin with, after a life-changing accident dictated she might never run again, Mina decided to prove her doctors wrong. She created an opportunity to push herself beyond what she thought possible to highlight a bigger cause — water scarcity. In 2016, to bring attention to the global water crisis, Mina ran 40 marathons across 7 deserts on 7 continents in 7 weeks. Along the way, she interviewed locals and water experts. Her goal was to tell the stories of people affected by the crisis and those working to solve it.

“Again, I am not a runner.  I am not built for this but I am absolutely committed to making and delivering change. And I truly believe in the power of every single one of us to make that happen. None of us is more special than the other one. All we have is a heart and a mind and an intention and desire to make the world a better place.”

The Global Water Crisis is A Risk For Everyone

Mina stresses that water is one of the biggest risks facing society today. The ramifications of the global water crisis should be a great cause for concern for everyone. By 2030 there’s forecast to be a 40% gap between the amount of water we need and the amount of water available. Motivated by the perceived inaction she sees around her; she has dedicated her life to this problem. 

We have a major global water crisis, it’s completely hidden. I’ve seen it and the world needs to see it to not only do it but to take action to solve it. So, I’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

Everyone can make a difference to water

While not all of us can run 200 marathons to raise awareness, we can do our bit by conserving water. What she shared are easily doable steps that not only save water but also save money. 

It can be things like reducing your food waste, a large amount of water goes into the production of food. Every time we do our food, we throw out the water, and every time we throw our clothing without water. So, reducing waste of your everyday household items, clothing, food, recycling, reusing, not only does it save water, but it actually saves money.”

4 things you can do right now to help save water

  1. Buy second-hand clothes
  2. Throw away less food, because the production of clothes and food swallows up vast amounts of water.
  3. Make other people aware of the global water crisis at work, at home, on social media
  4. Find out more about Mira’s marathons and join in the #RunBlue campaign. You can make a difference. Just put your shoes on and support.

Running in Sub-Saharan Africa

Guli says that in South Africa she sees what the power of water can do to change people’s lives, from young farmers who told her “do I pray for rain or leave my farm?”, to children in Beaufort West skipping school to wait for water to be delivered.

“Water. It’s at the heart of everything we do, we build, we eat and we use. Every. Single Day. And yet everywhere we see the signs of this essential resource under stress,” 

While most of the people in positions of power live in places where water flows freely out of taps, and products can be purchased from the store, right now one in three Africans feel the impact of water scarcity and 400 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to basic drinking water. And the situation is getting worse – by 2025, close to 230 million Africans are forecast to face water scarcity and up to 460 million will be living in water-stressed areas.

Main photograph credit and explanation: Mina Guli ran her first South African marathon on Monday in Nigel, Gauteng with employees from Bayer joining her for her last 5km. The image is featured as the leader board.

The following video interview contains the full dialogue of this interview, and you can watch it below.



Thapelo Mowela

Thapelo Mowela is a freelance writer and content producer with a passion for people and their stories. She began her career at the SABC  as one of the producers for a news show. Her job entails, producing , coming up with content and scripting for the news anchors, organizing guest, shooting inserts, voicing inserts and editing. She also gained experience in radio, when she worked as a content producer at Touch HD online. She currently writes fitness and lifestyle columns for a few newspapers. She fell in love with fitness and wants to share with other, ways to better their lifestyles.  In her spare time she’s hiking, travelling, or reading .

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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