Exhausted by 40 desert marathons, Australian says: 'Save water'

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2016 2:35 PM

OSLO (Reuters) - Exhausted after wearing out eight pairs of shoes in 40 marathons across deserts from Antarctica to the United States, Australian Mina Guli hopes her runs will inspire other people to safeguard the planet's fresh water supplies.

Guli, 45, completed the last marathon to raise awareness about water shortages - across seven deserts in seven continents over seven weeks - on Monday near Las Vegas, Nevada. The finish coincided with Tuesday's World Water Day in the U.N. calendar.

"I'm in shock that it's over," she told Reuters by telephone, saying her legs were worn out after runs totalling 1,688 km (1,055 miles). "It's the first day I've woken up and haven't had to run.

"All in, my final count is ... eight pairs of shoes" worn out in deserts in Spain, Jordan, Australia, Antarctica, South Africa, Chile and the United States, she said.

Guli said people she had met or contacted via social media had made pledges to cut water use totalling 100 million litres, including with simple measures such as to eat more vegetarian meals - crops take less far water to produce than meat.

"We have a massive water crisis," she said, urging more action by individuals to save water.

Climate change is disrupting weather patterns around the world, something a U.N. expert panel says will cause more droughts, downpours and floods.

Guli said her hardest time in keeping thirst at bay was in Australia, where temperatures were up to 47 degrees Celsius (116.6°F) after minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4°F) in Antarctica.

Guli, who runs Thirst, a charity that seeks to educate people about the need to reduce water consumption, said it was hard to sleep in a hotel room after so long in a tent - she said she missed a view of the stars in the night sky.

(Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Mark Heinrich)