SUNBURY — Endurance athlete Katie Spotz stopped in the village on Saturday as part of an unprecedented run across the state of Ohio.
The purpose of the run is two-fold. First, Spotz wants to set a record for consecutive ultramarathons by a woman — “11 ultras in 11 days,” says her website. Second, she wants to raise money to fund 11 clean water projects in Uganda.
Spotz is attempting to run 31-mile ultramarathons for 11 days in a row — a total of 341 miles across her home state of Ohio. She began on June 21 in Cincinnati, and she started from Sunbury’s Sandel Legacy Trail on the morning of June 26. A government official or leader from the communities where Spotz started and finished her run each day was asked to certify her efforts for proof of the record.
“Katie is a true inspiration,” said Sunbury Mayor Joe St. John in an email to The Gazette. “I had the honor of being the official witness for the start of her Day 6 ultra marathon Guinness Book of World Records attempt. She started her run just south of the Sunbury Boundary on the Ohio to Erie Trail.”
Originally, Spotz was slated to start near the Condit Presbyterian Church at 15102 County Road 44, and she passed near there while on the trail.
“After Katie started, I drove ahead of where she’d be, along Hartford Road,” St. John said. “As I saw her approaching, I pulled over and cheered her on. She was cheerful, smiling, joking, and full of hope. She is a true inspiration. One of the members of her support team said Katie had asked, ‘What would you run 341 miles for?’
As it turns out, her accomplishments are for clean water and sanitation projects in partnership with the nonprofit organization H20 for Life. In the case of the Ohio run, it’s to raise funds for a clean water project in Uganda.
“Katie is running to provide clean water for people that she’ll never meet,” St. John said. “Her efforts are not only inspirational, but there is a tangible benefit to this cause. I was honored to play a small part in this monumental journey.”
“Right now, one in 10 people are without clean water and sanitation,” said Beth Taube, a friend of Spotz. “It’s more than an adventure for Katie. That’s her purpose in all she does.”
Spotz’s athletic feats include: Cycling across the United States — twice; being the first person to swim the entire 325-mile long Allegheny River; running 100 miles nonstop in less than 20 hours; being the first woman to run nonstop across New Hampshire (62 miles) and Vermont (74 miles); and five Ironman triathlons. Last year she was the first person to run nonstop across Maine (where she serves as a Lieutenant the Coast Guard) in a time of 138 miles in 33 hours.
Perhaps the most remarkable adventure Spotz has endured is that she is the youngest woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, going from Africa to South America in 70 days.
This is her 11th endurance challenge, and it will end in Cleveland.
“This endurance feat will test my limits mentally and physically in different ways beyond previous athletic challenges,” Spotz said in a press release. “The time spent recovering will be just as important as the time spent running 6-7 hours each day. But, I couldn’t be more excited to do this journey in my home state, starting and ending the journey near water, and being part of the solution for the global water crisis.”
To date, she has raised more than $300,000 and her activism has helped more than 25,000 people.
“Partners like Katie help children around the world unlock the opportunity to live better, healthier lives through access to clean water,” said H2O for Life Director Steve Hall. “Because of her efforts, students can focus on learning, instead of spending hours each day walking miles to collecting water. Access to clean water, a place to wash hands and a safe place to use the bathroom leads to a remarkable improvement in health and learning. Water gives hope for the future!”
As of Monday, she had raised 90% of the $34,100 pledged for the Uganda projects.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.