Real Leaders

The Ultra Runner Bringing Attention to the Global Water Crisis

Ultra runner and water campaigner, Mina Guli runs past the ship graveyard, Muynak, Uzbekistan during the #RunningDry Expedition, on 22 November 2018

A swimming pool prank gone wrong would prove to be an accident that changed Mina Guli’s life. she hurt her back so badly that doctors told me she’d never run again. challenged to create a stunt that would capture the world’s attention around the global water crisis, her global, ultra-running campaign for water was born.

“I knew that this was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. That I was going to dedicate my life to solving our water crisis. At that point I knew that I would do whatever it takes to make that happen. I don’t want this future for the next generation,“ says Mina Guli.

Guli is a global leader, entrepreneur, water advocate, and ultra runner, dedicated to raising awareness around the global water crisis. Though she wasn’t a 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. Another running awareness project was the #RunningDry movement — 100 marathons in 100 days. And another recently completed run was the 6 River Run, along the banks of 6 of the world’s greatest rivers, across 6 continents, in 6 weeks — inspired by the UN’s 6th Sustainable Development Goal — Clean Water & Sanitation.

“It’s so weird for me to be in this situation where running has become what I do,” she says. “I did it because we needed to have a way to create a hook for people to pay attention to water. I wanted to show that we should go beyond our comfort zones to do things that are meaningful. I wanted to show that every one of us is capable of things that we have never dreamt of. I want to show that you don’t have to be anyone to be someone.” Mina stresses that water is one of the biggest risks facing society today, and that the ramifications of the global water crisis should be a great cause for concern. 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, Mina has dedicated her life to this problem. Her non-profit, Thirst, raises awareness of the water crisis among the next generation. 

“I don’t want the next generation to grow up and have their future limited by their ability to access water, they should only be limited by their ability to dream the dreams that they want to dream.”

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