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Water advocate completes 40 marathons in 7 deserts

From The Field
Water advocate completes 40 marathons in 7 deserts Photography: Kelvin Trautman

On March 22, World Water Day, Australian water advocate Mina Guli will have finished a remarkable challenge: 40 marathons through seven deserts on seven continents in seven weeks. It is all to deliver one message: we have a water crisis and we need to do something about it, today.

Mina, founder and CEO of Thirst – an educational water conservation charity – took on the gruelling seven week challenge across the world’s seven continents to raise awareness of global water scarcity, a crisis that was ranked by the World Economic Forum for the last two years as the number one risk facing society.

The challenge will saw her run 1,040 miles (1,688km) through deserts in Spain, Jordan, Antarctica, Australia, South Africa, Chile and the United States of America, where she subjected her body to some of the harshest conditions on the planet, running through extreme stress and exhaustion in soaring temperatures up to 45°C and sub-zero conditions as low as -23°C.

Water advocate completes 40 marathons in 7 deserts
Photography: Kelvin Trautman

Mina ran through some of the areas in the world that are worst affected by water scarcity, talking to local people and experts about their real life struggles with a lack of water, and documenting this. Her goal is to highlight the risks facing the next generation, and to showcase the simple solutions we can take in our daily lives to make a very real difference in how we use and consume water.

With an average of 90 per cent of water being consumed outside the home (70 per cent by agriculture and 20 per cent in manufacturing), the Mina sees the real key to solving the water crisis is for companies to use water more efficiently – right through their supply chains.

As well as raising awareness, Mina aims to build a community of water conscious consumers, working together to take steps to reduce their invisible water consumption. From choosing tea over coffee (saving 118 litres of water per cup) or chicken over beef (saving 2218 litres of water per 200g of meat), according to Water Footprint, Mina’s message is that consumers can do small things to save vast amounts of water every day.

Water usage has had devastating effects across the globe as 650 million people live without water, according to Water Aid. Only 0.007 per cent of the planet’s water is available to fuel and feed its 6.8 billion people as almost all water is unsafe or unavailable for use, according to World Wildlife. By 2025, 1.8 billion people, almost a third of the world’s population, will experience absolute water scarcity. In 2009, Barcelona – one of the world’s highly developed cities – ran out of water and had to import from Marseille, Tarragona and Almeria, showing the real issue of water scarcity in first and third world countries.

Before embarking on the challenge, Mina Guli said: “We can’t afford to continue to use water in the way our parents and our grandparents have used it before us. With a rising population and escalating demand for products, our rate of water usage is unsustainable. The problem is solvable by all of us – irrespective of where we live or where we’re from. Just by making smart consumer choices can help save thousands of litres of water.

“As I do this crazy thing to experience and document the grassroots effects of water shortages across the globe, I hope to raise awareness of the water crisis and inspire the next generation to believe they can make a difference by pledging to do just one thing each day to reduce their water consumption. Small steps, each day, because every drop counts.” – Mina Guli
To find out more about the challenge as well as how to pledge your support, visit and keep up to date via social media by following @thirst4water using #run4water.

Written by Daniel Neilson // Photography: Kelvin Trautman