Running –and Telling Stories– to Raise Awareness about Global Water, Sanitation Crisis

Human Wrongs Watch

5 June 2017 – An ‘ultra runner’ who does not particularly enjoy running recently completed 40 marathons in 40 days to raise awareness about the global goal of providing all people with clean water and sanitation by 2030.

In the United Kingdom, Mina Guli runs to the finish of the 6 River Run on 30 April 2017. Photo: Kelvin Trautman

The quest took Australian lawyer Mina Guli via 20 flights to six continents where she ran along the banks of six of the world’s major rivers.

Guli was at United Nations Headquarters in April to talk about her Six-River Run during a briefing organized by the Permanent Mission of Australia to the UN, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the charity she founded, Thirst, which educates young people about the global water crisis and what they can do to change how the use and consume this precious resource.

It was held just three days after her final run, which was along the River Thames in the United Kingdom.

Guli’s story is the subject of the latest episode of the UN News Podcast, ‘The Lid is On.’

Though well-known as a runner of so-called ‘ultramarathons’– any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres, or 26.219 miles – Ms. Guli recalled the trepidation she felt at the start of this particularly epic journey.

“The first day when I had laced up my shoes, I was worried about gear, I was worried about equipment. I was worried about the stories and the people and making sure that I would do this whole thing justice,” she told UN News.

AUDIO: Listen to Mina Guli’s incredible story in this episode of the UN podcast, The Lid is On, presented by Dianne Penn.


Although confronted by her own fragility, Ms. Guli pressed on through blistering sun and driving rain, not to mention intense physical pain, to draw attention to the fact that 2.4 billion worldwide still lack adequate sanitation.

“I don’t think of myself as an ultra runner at all. I’m just a person who wanted to make a difference on this planet and the way I chose to do it is using my feet to go to places and […] speak to people about these issues that are very grassroots,” she said.

Ensuring access to clean water and sanitation is Goal 6 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) world leaders are pushing to achieve by 2030.

The UN believes water and sanitation are “at the very core” of sustainable development as they are critical to the survival of people and the planet.

The Six-River Run lasted six weeks and saw Guli running along the banks of the Colorado River in the Southwestern United States, the Amazon River in Brazil, the Nile in Egypt, the Murray River in her homeland, Australia; the Yangtze River in China , in addition to Thames in the United Kingdom. (SOURCE: UN).

2017 Human Wrongs Watch


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