Endurance athlete, charitable ambassador, record holder, author, and all around superhuman, Katie Spotz, has already accomplished more than a few amazing feats. She has already single-handedly raised nearly three hundred thousand dollars for the clean water crisis through her adventures and athletic accomplishments, from her solo row across the Atlantic to running nonstop across the state of Maine. Now she’s focused on ultra-marathons – eleven – to be exact. That’s right, eleven ultra-marathons in eleven days, an accomplishment that would break the current Guinness world record for women.
Beginning in Cincinnati on June 21, 2021, Katie will be running in her own “backyard” through the beautiful state of Ohio where she grew up, until she reaches Cleveland 11 days later on July 1. She’ll enjoy all of the flora and fauna on the Ohio to Erie trail while running more than three hundred miles. That comes to around 6-7 hours of non-stop running per day. Katie says that running ultras are “calming and meditative” for her but her goals reach far beyond the enjoyment and accomplishment of the challenge. In this adventure, she hopes to raise $34,100 for H2O for Life to support and fund eleven water projects in Uganda. Those water projects pack a powerful punch, providing thousands of people with access to clean water, driving down infant and child mortality rates, improving women’s quality of life, giving girls a better chance of receiving and completing an education, and reducing common deadly waterborne illnesses within communities.
Although her goals for this challenge are lofty, they hardly compare to the work she’s already accomplished for the global water crisis and H2O for Life. The record-breaking eleven ultra marathons in eleven days is just Katie’s latest project with H2O for Life. She’s already raised nearly three hundred thousand dollars for water projects across the United States and abroad, making a huge impact in South Africa, Uganda, the Dominican Republic, and many more nations around the world. Her previous accomplishments include such impressive feats as being the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic ocean. In 2010, she spent seventy days and nights tenuously rowing miles and miles through potentially erratic salt water all the while interacting with unexpected wildlife visitors in the form of birds, flying fish, dolphins, etc. A mental and physical monstrosity, Katie raised more than $150,000 to fund multiple clean water projects for communities around the world.
More recently, in 2020, Katie became the first person to run nonstop across the state of Maine. It took her 33 hours total and despite facing some medical issues, she managed to cross the finish line and raise even more money for clean water. She understands and reckons with the fact that her adventures rely on her body being able to undertake such intense challenges. She accepts that each challenge “will either be an epic failure or grand adventure depending on how [her] body manages the demands of covering the miles” and that her “mind and heart are filled with hope” for this upcoming challenge “that [her] body can handle running 6-7 hours a day, and hope that others are inspired to support H2O for Life as a result.”
Katie’s athletic accomplishments and philanthropic efforts have attracted national attention. She’s spoken at hundreds of schools, given a Ted Talk in Asheville, and recently had the opportunity to promote her work on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Katie spoke extensively about her many records, accomplishments, and the importance of solving the water crisis. It’s critical to note that she emphasized that the water crisis is, in fact, solvable. That the technology already exists for every person on Earth to have access to clean water, but that people in low-income countries do not have access to these technologies and many people in middle-income countries lack the motivation to improve the lives of others. Katie stands as a figure to bridge this gap in raising funds and awareness through her “superhuman” adventures. The appeal of her adventures is just one way that someone can make a difference for people everywhere.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a super-athlete like Katie Spotz to do something about increasing access to clean water. “Adventure and endurance challenges are one of the ways to highlight the cause, you don’t have to put on your running shoes to make a difference” she says, arguing that doing something and anything to begin with is one of the important things to do as the “act of beginning anything new is powerful and the ripple effect is real.” While on Joe Rogan’s podcast, she said that when it comes to intense physical activity, “the farther you get, the easier it gets.” She agrees this applies to philanthropy as well. Once someone takes the first step to help out, whether that is by volunteering or donating, it becomes so much easier to continue to make a positive difference.
Ultimately, Katie Spotz has and will continue to make significant impacts for clean water access through her athletic adventures and philanthropic efforts. She encourages all people to find their own ways to contribute positively to the world. Although at this point she is comfortable taking on difficult challenges, she still struggles at times. “Having a purpose bigger than myself helps me in those moments when I feel out of my element.” “If you have a strong enough ‘why’, you can figure out the ‘how’ and being a water warrior and helping others gain access to clean water is the “why” behind all my adventures.” Everyone and anyone can be a water warrior and find the reason that they fight for everyone around the world to have access to clean water.
You can follow Katie’s world record attempt and support her fundraising efforts by visiting her campaign page