Every year on March 22, World Water Day brings innovative actions to help solve the worldwide water crisis. One woman with a mission to educate all people, of all ages across the globe on responsible water usage, is bringing awareness in big strides.
Mina Guli, CEO and founder of Thirst, a non-profit tackling the crisis of water scarcity, will be doing something no one has ever done before—running 40 marathons over the course of 40 days along six rivers in six different continents. She kicks off her first leg on World Water Day here in Las Vegas at Springs Preserve, then will spend the next four days running along Lake Mead, the Colorado River and Grand Canyon. She will then move on to the Amazon River in South America, Murray-Darling in Australia, Yangtze in China, the Nile River in Africa and finish along the River Thames in Southern England.
Guli selected the Colorado River as the start of her 1,048-mile Run 4 Water journey due to the commendable work on conservation valley-wide. “When I first came to Las Vegas after running through the desert, I thought this was a city of excess, with water wastage on gardens and palm trees. The more I read over the past 12 months, the more I realized it’s an incredibly interesting case study of water usage and efficiency,” Guli says.
According to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, this community has seen constant growth since 2002; simultaneously, there has been a reduction of water use per capita by 37 percent. Nearly all indoor water is recycled and since the introduction of SNWA’s water smart landscape rebate in 1999, more than 108 billion gallons of wastewater has been saved.
Growing up in Australia during a 10-year drought, Guli was aware of the necessary steps to conserve water, such as taking shorter showers and turning the faucet off when brushing her teeth. What she didn’t know was that 95 percent of water used is outside of the home. She shared the statistics that brought her fear for the future of water: one entire outfit takes more water to make than a person will drink in his or her lifetime, the making of one hamburger is equivalent to a two-hour shower and 2,000 gallons of water goes into one pair of leather shoes.
Since starting Thirst in China in 2012, Guli’s mission has reached children, parents, teachers and government officials across the sprawling Asian country. More than 400,000 children have graduated from Thirst’s education program, WE Water Experience, which provides education on water scarcity and tools necessary to reduce their own water footprint.
“One country can’t stop the water crisis, so I decided that I wanted to do something bigger,” Guli says. Run 4 Water was put into plan in 2015, which would allow her to visit different continents and share her knowledge and stories, 40 marathons at a time.
“There is a forecast of a 40 percent difference in demand and supply for water by 2030, that is why 40 marathons. Doing this makes that number 40 seem so big,” Guli says.
In 2016, Guli completed her first set of 40 marathons in seven weeks across desert landscapes in seven different continents, starting in Tabernas, Spain and finishing in the Mojave Desert.
With her LifeStraw, eight pairs of running shoes, fear of creepy crawlies and crew of five others, Guli runs for the 663 million people around the world without access to safe and clean water, the 2.4 billion people without basic sanitation and the threats of an imbalance in water supply and demand. Follow her journey and cheer her on www.facebook.com/MinaGuliWater or by searching #Run4Water or @minaguli on Twitter and Instagram.