“Do you know what I think about while I’m running?” Katie Spotz asked me during our conversation last month, half-rhetorically.

“What?” I responded with genuine curiosity.


Katie Spotz is an ultra-endurance athlete who has traversed the globe to raise money for children and families who don’t have access to clean drinking water.

Katie describes running as being meditative — sometimes listening to the beat of a metronome (180 beats per minute), to match her pace.

In 2010 when she was 22 years old, Katie Spotz became the youngest person to ever row across the Atlantic Ocean. Beginning the journey in Dakar, Senegal and finishing in Guyana (a northern country in South America,) Katie rowed over 3,000 miles across the ocean, by herself.

Her row across the Atlantic Ocean helped Katie raise over $150,000 for clean water projects across the globe.

The Crisis

Around the world, over 2 billion people do not have a toilet, and over 785 million people don’t have access to safe drinking water.

Every year, almost 1 million people die from water and sanitation-related diseases. Children are heavily effected — with a child dying every two minutes from a disease related to unsafe drinking water. In fact, the third leading cause of child death is diarrhea.

For areas that don’t have easy access to safe drinking water, the cost goes beyond health. It is estimated that $260 billion of economic opportunities is lost, given the cumulative time that it takes people to gather clean drinking water. Giving families access to clean drinking water not only improves their health outcomes, but also provides them with better education opportunities by freeing up their time.

Katie’s Mission

In 2008, Katie became the first person to swim across the entire 325-miles of the Allegheny River. This required her to swim between 12 and 15 miles per day – which required for her to be swimming an average of almost 8 hours per day. In 2020 Katie ran across New Hampshire in 11 hours and, separately, ran across the state of Vermont in 13 hours, becoming the first person to do each.

Katie was also the first person to run across Maine without stopping, completing the 138 mile distance in 33 hours.

Katie’s ultra-endurance events have helped her raise hundreds of thousands of dollars towards fighting the water crisis.