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Australian activist's 40-marathon challenge comes to Jordan

By Dana Al Emam - Feb 13,2016 - Last updated at Feb 13,2016

Australian athlete Mina Guli runs in the Kingdom's Southern Badia region recently (Photo courtesy of Mina Guli)

AMMAN — Jordan is the second stop in a cross-continental 40-marathon challenge that seeks to raise awareness about water scarcity.

Australian athlete and water advocate Mina Guli has recently started an initiative to run the equivalent of 40 marathons (some 1,688km) in seven deserts located in seven continents over a period of seven weeks.

The route includes deserts in Spain, Jordan, Antarctica, Australia, South Africa, Chile and the US. 

Guli, who is the founder and CEO of Thirst, an educational water conservation charity, will run the equivalent of one marathon a day in temperatures between -23°C and 45°C, excluding travel between continents. 

"In 15 years from now there will be a 40 per cent greater demand for water than the available supply," she told The Jordan Times in a recent interview, noting a parallel between the difficulty of running the assigned distance and the hardships that the discrepancy between water demand and supply will inflict on humans.

Moreover, Guli underscored the problem of "invisible water consumption", a phenomenon that people are usually unaware of, noting that 70 per cent of the world's water use goes into agriculture and 20 per cent is used in manufacturing, while personal consumption forms around 10 per cent.

"A lot of solutions already exist to make water use in agriculture and manufacturing more efficient , but what we need to do is to create demand to incentivise companies to adopt those technologies more quickly," the activist said.

Guli explained that simple actions such as choosing tea over coffee and having a vegetarian meal instead of one with meat saves water equivalent to a five-minute shower, urging people to adopt more resource-conscious habits and commit to personal pledges on preserving water sources. 

"Being aware of the problem enables people to be part of the solution," she said, noting that the initiative does not ask people not to consume, but to consume differently.

Speaking about her experience running in her first destination, Spain, Guli recalled that when she first started this "crazy" idea she did not fully understand how hard it would be, citing the major physical challenges of running on desert terrain.

"I ran in riverbeds that 40 years ago had water in them, but are now completely empty." 

As Jordan is the second water-poorest country on the planet, Guli said she wanted to learn how Jordanians manage water consumption and to document the information for the millennial generation around the world. 

"Jordan has had a history of water scarcity... yet the people found a way for an incredibly peaceful and sustainable community." 

Guli's six marathons in Jordan, which started last Monday, take place in the southern parts of the Kingdom, passing wells, water projects and dams. 

 

"Sometimes in this big economy we think that it doesn't matter what we do, but I want to show people that one person can make a difference." 

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