40 marathons, 7 deserts, 7 continents, 49 days

Joe Polastre
3 min readMar 1, 2016

I met Mina Guli over Thanksgiving dinner last year. “I’m going to run a bunch of marathons next year,” she says to me nonchalantly. I think to myself, why? She continues, “You’re from California, you know there’s a water crisis, right?” Well yeah, of course, I know about the drought. “No, the global water crisis.” Oh.

“Did you know that access to water is the biggest threat facing our planet over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum?” Well no, I didn’t. She then connected water to just about everything I can think of — not just the drinking water every human being needs to survive, but that local economies could collapse if they can’t grow crops, and countries going to war over water.

Wow, this is a real problem. I’m intrigued. “Only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to fuel and feed its 6.8 billion people… By 2025, 1.8 billion people, almost a third of the world’s population, will experience absolute water scarcity.”

I ask how many marathons she’s doing. Then she dropped the bomb on me — she’s running them all in less than 50 days on all 7 continents. And all in deserts, the most inhospitable places on earth. This woman is serious. This woman is hardcore.

Mina, after completing desert #3.

Let’s be honest. I’m not going to run 40 marathons. I’m probably not going to run one. Here’s what makes this even more impressive: in 1992, doctors told Mina that she wouldn’t be able to run again. Fast forward to 2016, and she’s almost halfway through running 1,680km in 2 months. Super impressive. Watch the first video, it’s amazing.

Normally you’d expect that Mina’s goal is to raise money, but the main call to action on Thirst’s page is a pledge for you to reduce your water usage. They ask you to have tea instead of coffee, or to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.

Their goal is to reduce water usage by 1 billion liters. In comparison to running 40 marathons, I guess a shorter shower or Meatless Monday’s aren’t so bad after all.

Here’s where you can do your part. No money, just a little bit of your time and commitment.

You can follow Mina and Thirst for Water on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Check out her progress through the remaining 4 deserts. The photos are really incredible.

Not yet convinced? Want to know more? Here’s some follow-up reading.



Joe Polastre

Pilot 🧑‍✈️, sailor ⛵️, product leader 👨‍💻