Run for the planet; how to make every step count

Running hot

As runners we know that the more efficient our body and mind functions, the less effort it takes to perform well. Our heart rate will go down and our body stays cooler, so we’ll need less oxygen, hydration and fuel to perform the same or even better.

Apart from running skills, techniques and shoes, other aspects play a role, like breathing, hydration, nutrition, sleep, strength and flexibility (physical and mental). It’s obvious that we need air, water and land. Everything works together and contributes to our being.

Nevertheless we exhaust the resources we depend on.
Just like our body the planet needs to cool down and recover after an intense workout. 
Just like our body the planet get’s overheated when we make it work too hard for too long.
We need to listen to the planet like we need to listen to our body or we’ll run out of fuel and hit the wall!

Running out of air

Jared Campbell loves a challenge. He’s the only person who completed the brutally hard Barkley Marathon three times. He is also the youngest 10 times finisher of the Hardrock 100 and has run the Fastest Known Time on the Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Linkup.

While training for the Barkley Marathons on the peaks near Salt Lake City, heavy smog would bother Jared: “Every time I went below about 6,000 feet, I’d plunge into this really nasty air,” he says. “It got to the point that I was wearing a respirator when I got below a certain elevation.”

In winter months ascending the the 8,299′ Grandeur Peak often means starting in smoggy, cold, polluted air and climbing up to surprisingly warmer clean air above. 

The topography of the Salt Lake Valley, mixed with pollution from the well over 2 million people and industry can render very unhealthy conditions. One of the world’s foremost experts in environmental epidemiology and public health, C. Arden Pope, of Brigham Young University (BYU) helped establish the connection between air pollution and health problems.

Jared took action. His passion for the Wasatch Mountains, love of living in Salt Lake City, and desire for families and friends to enjoy an improved quality of life, he created a race called Running Up For Air (RUFA) in 2016 in Utah. 

Since 2016 RUFA works closely with local Forest Service members and Breathe Utah to create greater awareness, which led to a series of events not only in the US but also in Chamonix, France.
The money raised with the events finances research and solutions to improve air quality.

How you can help to clean the air

Think & act local:
“Having a local event that is close enough to train and prepare on is a huge advantage,” says elite ultra runner and coach Sage Canaday. “Just knowing the course and having friends involved usually makes it a fun experience as well.”
Rickey Gates ran every single street of San Francisco and inspired runners around the world to explore their own local streets. 

Everyday Actions to Improve Air Quality​​​​​​​
Running Up For Air
Clean Air Run
Run for Clean Air
#FlightFree
#EverySingleStreet

A pair of shoes, a pair of jeans, a jacket, talking on the phone…
all of those things took more water to make than you will drink in a lifetime.

Mina Guli

Running out of water

When Mina was introduced to the problem of ‘invisible water’, the shocking amount of water needed to make everyday items like clothing and food, she decided to make it her life’s work to help solve the global water crisis.

Mina launched the non-profit Thirst in March 2012. What started as a crazy idea sketched on a whiteboard became a movement that would stretch across China. Thirst has now reached well over a million of kids, parents, teachers and government officials.

To capture the world’s attention about the global water crisis Mina started running. 
In March 2016, Mina finished running 40 marathons across seven deserts on seven continents in seven weeks. It was a world first. “I was amazed to be named on Fortune’s list of the 50 greatest leaders in the world. It was a strange feeling to see my name alongside the Pope, Angela Merkel and Jeff Bezos, but there I was!”

“Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to ask people what water means to them. During the 7 Deserts Run in 2016, I was haunted (and still am) by this comment from one person I met: “The question isn’t if the water will run out in Jordan, it is when. Perhaps it will be in my lifetime, [it will] definitely be in my children’s lifetime.”

A year later, during the 6 River Run, Mina met an entrepreneur who had been on a trip to his native Egypt and went to a village in Asyut, “where people dig 20 metres in the ground to get water. The water that comes out is highly contaminated; it’s not drinkable.” And yet people are forced to use this water to drink, clean and shower and the result is that they are often forced to go to hospital each month to remove kidney stones.

 November 2018 Mina started running 100 marathons in 100 Days to ignite a global conversation about saving water and changing the way we use, consume and think about water.
After 62 marathons she broke her leg. It made the global supporting #RunningDry movement stronger; runners all over the world helped out to complete the challenge.

But there’s more action needed. “If we don’t make serious changes today, by 2030 the global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40%,” Mina says.

Adventurer Charlie Engle took off in September 2019 for Project 5.8 – Dead Sea to Everest; an expedition from the lowest to the highest point on earth. He is partnering with green.org to raise awareness around accessibility to clean water in Tanzania. 

Tanzania is in a water and sanitation crisis. Only 50 percent of Tanzania’s population of 53 million have access to an improved source of safe water, and only 34 percent of Tanzania’s population has access to improved sanitation. 

“I’m no stranger to the water problems our world faces. When I ran across the Sahara, I raised over $6 million for clean water projects in Africa. It’s an issue close to my heart.”

The time it takes to collect water not only keeps kids out of school and limits the time parents could have used to earn an income, but the water often carries diseases that can make them sick too.
“The problem is multilayered and requires efforts for not only building wells but also teaching people how to care for those wells and identity when water needs treatment,” Charlie says.

To make this sort of education possible Charlie partnered with Charity Water, that has brought clean water to 10 million people.

Charlie also partnered with MSR Mountain Safety Research, who donated high volume water purification systems, and with Decawater Filter Technologies, a proven method for potable water treatment in a way that is simple, green and portable, mostly comprised of locally sourced parts. Each 100 person capacity unit removes bacteria and viruses from untreated water, reducing water borne diseases.

“This expedition isn’t just about me,” says Charlie. It’s about our planet and the diverse people who share this 5.8 mile sliver of atmosphere on Earth. We are all here together and each of us experiences highs and lows. There are days when life seems unbearable. It’s on these days that community and the best of our humanity helps us not faint from the hardship but to steady ourselves to realize that our obstacles indeed are not unsurmountable.” 

How you can help to save water

We are so dependent on water that we built our cities and communities around it.
Daily conscious behavior like closing the water tap while brushing your teeth, taking less and shorter showers, using a washing machine and dish washer only when it’s full and really needed can make a huge difference.

How to save water
Mina Guli’s water saving tips

Something of a natural system which has taken millions of years to establish,
and in the case of Tarkine in conjunction with the Aboriginal people who care for their country and allowed it to flourish, all that for the Aboriginal people looking over 40.000 years of influence,
all of that could be lost in hours and days from logging and mining.
It’s an absolute tragedy.

Nicole Anderson

Running out of rainforest

The Tarkine is a vast wilderness area supporting Australia’s largest tract of cool temperate rainforest, spanning wild windswept beaches, extensive button grass plains and pristine wild rivers. It is of great significance to Tasmania’s Aboriginal people and a relict of the ancient continent of Gondwana and related to temperate forests in Patagonia and the South Island of New Zealand.

Running doctor, conservation photographer and environmentalist Nicole Anderson knows the importance of saving our last truly wild places.

She became aware of the cultural, historical and unique natural values of the Tarkine area and its’ biodiversity of over 60 threatened and endangered species which were an imminent threat from logging and mining and irresponsible vehicle uses as well as pollution from particularly mining.​​​​​​​

“Firebombing is used to create a heat so intense that nothing native can survive, so it won’t compete with the artificial plantation they’re going to replace this with,” Nicole says.

“Those of us who are connected to the landscapes and very understanding of the environmental impacts, we are frightened. When you hear the scientist do the measurements and farmers who produce the food, and those of us who are naturalists, who are in the country all the time, we’re seeing changes happening and catastrophic biodiversity losses.”

“It’s a frightening thing if we see that the political leaders of the world do not understand, do not fear, what catastrophe could be coming upon humans if we let our biodiversity collapse faster.”

Katharine and her husband David Lowrie are the first ones who ran the length of South America, unsupported, for its wilderness and wildlife.
The distance turned out to be a bit more than the 5000 mile they had anticipated, but they completed the project of 6,504 miles in 2013 after running the equivalent of 250 marathons in 15 months.

They ran to raise awareness and money to protect and conserve threatened habitats. They also ran to connect with people and wildlife. And they ran to inspire environmental action, to prove that with small steps we can tackle seemingly insurmountable challenges.

“The earth provides us with vital “Ecosystem Services”. These are the “free services” provided by the natural world, including the ecosystems of South America. Examples include water filtration, flood control, soil creation, oxygen production etc. that we need to survive, Katharine says.
Scientists have recently begun to evaluate their relative financial value to humankind, especially as ecosystems are modified and degrade and can no longer provide their original functions.

“It’s not too late to protect the world’s remaining unspoiled ecosystems, but time is running out.

The project was an immense physical and mental challenge. We spoke to over 2,583 students & interest groups about running & the natural world, counted 453 bird species, wrote 35 articles on ecological issues and raised money for Birdlife International, Armonia & Conservacion Patagonia. We spoke to the press across South America & internationally.”

Wildfires in the Amazon, which are an important sink for carbon dioxide, have been increasing in recent years due to the climate crisis and deforestationThe Washington Post reported.​​​​​​​
On September 24, 2019, when the UN Climate Action Summit in New York took place, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) had spotted 131,600 fires in the Brazilian Amazon since January, up 83 percent from 2018. INPE said that deforestation had increased 88 percent in June 2019, compared to the year before and states that its data are 95 percent accurate.
Apart from carbon-filled smoke that’s exacerbating the speed of climate change destruction, these fires also causes air pollution that threatens the health of nearby communities. 

How you can help to save the rainforest

There are several ways to support the Bob Brown Foundation campaign to have Takayna/Tarkine protected as a World Heritage listed National Park, returned to Aboriginal ownership.
You can also help save Takayna/Tarkine from logging, mining and off-road vehicle damage by joining the Takayna ultramarathon

Join/share the conversation #PrayForAmazonia

Nature is the salve for our souls.
​​​​​​​We owe it to everyone who comes after us and ourselves, to protect what little is left of wild nature …

Bob Brown​​​​​​​

Running out of pollinators

Hummingbirds, bats, bees, beetles, butterflies, and flies carry pollen from one plant to another as they collect nectar. They play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction and in the production of most fruits, vegetables, nuts, world’s oils, fibers and raw materials. It also helps to prevent soil erosion and to increase carbon sequestration.
The US National Academy of Sciences found that populations of honey bees (which are not native to North America) and some wild pollinators are declining. Declines in wild pollinators may be a result of habitat loss and degradation, while declines in managed bees is linked to disease (introduced parasites and pathogens).

The Monarch Ultra is a 4,300km (2,670 miles) relay run following the migratory path of monarch butterflies from Peterborough, Ontario to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico. Relay runners, running in pairs when possible, will run approximately 50km or 100km segments over 47 days. 

Monarchs butterflies cover long distances to arrive at a new (unknown) destination and go through a remarkable transformation from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly.
The Monarch Ultra is the first documentary project to cover the entire migration via an ultra-run.

At a time of great political divide, an ultra run that spans three countries, two international borders and a diversity of cultures is a call for unity to work together to solve global problems including climate change and environmental destruction.

The Monarch Ultra raises awareness of these beautiful insects whose populations are in steep decline and creates dialogue on pollinators and their significance to biodiversity and food security.

How you can help to encourage pollinator diversity and abundance

Running out of birds

The beautiful Karkloof valley is the breeding ground of South Africa’s endangered Cranes.
Cranes are large, beautiful, long-lived birds that have inspired awe among people since the earliest times. They are the most elegant of all birds and their trumpeting calls and carefree, bounding courtship dances are evocative of our wildest places. The lifelong devotion shown by mated pairs has resulted in them traditionally being revered as symbols of peace, happiness and longevity.

Sadly, cranes are rapidly retreating in the face of man’s relentless exploitation of our planet, and crane populations have plummeted over the past two centuries. Without our concern and careful management, many species are doomed to slip into extinction. Already seven of the world’s 15 species of crane are critically endangered.

The Conservancy is made up of local landowners interested in the protection of biodiversity in the Karkloof and has been actively involved in a number of community projects in the area for the past 13 years. The Karkloof Conservancy covers an area of 40 000 hectares in the Karkloof, KwaZulu-Natal. The area includes wetlands, grasslands and huge tracts of forest, which are all protected biomes.

The farmers of the Conservancy participate in various environmentally friendly farming practices, ensuring that they maintain their alien invasive plants, their soil, the fauna, flora, and the environment as a whole. Some of the farmers are registered crane custodians and all 3 species of crane occur in the area.

Some of the projects that the Karkloof Conservancy participates in include annual game counts to monitor the game in the area such as the endangered Oribi.

How you can help to conserve endangered crane species and biodiversity

By supporting or running the Old Mutual Three Cranes Challenge you are helping to conserve KwaZulu-Natal’s endangered Crane species.You’ll experience unique and challenging courses through scenic and extraordinary National Parks and a World Heritage Site.
The fees generated from participants entries contribute to various conservation and sustainable community development initiatives that are undertaken by the Wildlands program.

Running out of wildlife

Running for Rangers is a dedicated group of individuals who run marathons and ultra marathons worldwide to raise money for the welfare of the rangers who risk their lives daily to protect elephants and rhino in Africa. Both of these iconic species are under threat of extinction because of illegal poaching – the demand for rhino horn and elephant ivory is rising and both command high prices in South East Asia. 100 African elephants are slaughtered each day by poachers; and in South Africa, which has by far the largest population of rhino in the world, an estimated 1,215 were killed in 2014 alone.

With the rising prices of ivory and rhino horn, poachers have become ever more determined and motivated, using high caliber assault weapons and sophisticated equipment to operate at night. Often poachers come from an underworld of illegal gun runners, involved in all facets of gun-crimes including human trafficking, drugs and terrorism.

The rangers who protect rhinos and elephants operate in tough, dangerous conditions, and cover vast areas on foot each day. In order to be effective, they need top-quality clothing that is suited to the warm days, cold nights and tough terrain, and sophisticated equipment to allow them to track and apprehend the poachers. Running for Rangers raises funds for good quality military clothing and specialist equipment which is not available in large areas of Africa, and organizes its importation and distribution.

How you can help rangers to save the rhino and other wildlife

Support Save the Rhino directly or through For Rangers Ultra, a 230km race split into 5 stages crossing five wildlife conservancies. Each has its own characteristic terrain from verdant grasslands to forest; the playground of East Africa’s iconic wildlife. Travel through multiple conservancies teaming with wildlife and support the brave rangers who protect them.

We are living in a climate crisis,
and urgently need to re-address how we live, work, and meet our needs.

Rosie Watson​​​​​​​

Running out of time

The Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) is a non-profit volunteer-based group of nature and trekking enthusiasts in South India which organizes outdoor events during nearly all weekends of the year. Yearly the group cleans up the entire Chennai coastal line over 15km with thousands of volunteers.

CTC’s green wing Ainthinai planted and nurtured 14 thousand trees in and around Chennai in the past 4 years with a survival rate of 75%. Ainthinai organizes frequent green activities including tree plantations, cleanup drives, zero-waste initiatives, terrace gardening, organic farming, tree walks and environmental sustainability awareness drives including the Chennai Coastal Cleanup and annual Green Day.

This active and large community also raises awareness of nature, outdoors, adventure, photography, wildlife and conservation with their treks, a major trekking symposium and their races.

But several races have been cancelled since 2017 because of the Kurangani fire accident in 2018, when friends of the Chennai Trekking Club lost their lives.

In November 2018 Cyclone Gaja crumbled houses, killed livestock, uprooted many trees and flooded cultivation fields and farms in the delta region. The region where the main source of people’s income is dependent on agriculture.
It was the worst cyclone that has hit the Delta Region in the past 25 years; 63 people lost their lives.

The climate crisis has already been solved.
We already have all the facts and solutions.
All we have to do is to wake up and change.

Greta Thunberg

Running for change

Rosie Watson is running solo and unsupported across Europe and Asia, searching for and telling stories of better ways of living, working and meeting our needs in the climate crisis. “I hope to communicate issues & solutions linked to the climate crisis in a fresh & personal way, that people can connect to,” she says.

During her study Environment & Business at the University of Leeds Rosie investigated how world views, culture and values led to the ecological crisis, and how these could be addressed to tackle it. She also worked in various environmental jobs.

“We are living in a climate crisis, and urgently need to re-address how we live, work, and meet our needs. The impacts are already being felt, often by those with limited resources to adapt, and/or who have contributed little to the problem itself. We are plagued by inaction, a sense of apathy, and a culture where we waste time by trying to blame each other, without taking responsibility ourselves.

I am meeting people from projects along the way who are creating a new, more sustainable, way of living, and are dedicated to tackling the climate crisis and it’s related issues. They are taking initiative, taking matters into their own hands, and ‘just getting on with it’. Their stories will be told through photography, interviews and writing on this website, social media and other platforms, with the vision of creating a hugely diverse portfolio of ‘new stories’ from across the world!

I will also cross as many mountain ranges and areas of wilderness, remoteness and natural beauty as I can, and communicate these experiences alongside the ‘new stories’. By exploring the climate crisis and it’s solutions through a story of adventure, I aim to explore these issues in a fresh and personal way.”

Sometimes we just simply have to find a way.
The moment we decide to fulfill something, we can do anything.
And I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe.
Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this.
But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.

Greta Thunberg

Running to enjoy & care for the outdoors we share

Bill did what so many of us only dream of: he gave up a secure 9-5 job for an unknown adventure.
In June 2016 Bill Sycalik started a self-supported and self-funded quest to run a marathon distance in all 60 US national parks in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service! Bill ran marathons in 53 parks so far.
Although it’s been a journey of highs and lows since he started, and Bill had to overcome quite some challenges, he hopes to complete his National Parks Marathon Project Summer 2020.

“Go outside and be in it,” Bill says.” Cause I think the way to be most appreciative about our planet and then want to do something about it, whether that is continuing to conserve natural spaces, to limit development in particular areas so that you protect wildlife, or just to have areas for recreation, is to go out and enjoy them.

And until you do that enough times, I think some people take it for granted and they just go “Oh it will always be there,” or “I’ll go and see it some other time,” or “I’ll just go outside and run on my street here.”
But going and visiting that, is I think where you’re gonna recognize how important it is to protect some of our natural lands, and conserve what we have, and keep it clean.”

How you can help to save the planet

Team up with nature
Ultramarathon runner and world champion Max King shares his love for the outdoors by organizing trail running camps where he teaches skills to be self-sufficient in the forest and mountains. His goal is to create capable trail runners and stewards with a lifelong love for nature.

Vote With Your Feet
Greta Thunberg started #FridaysForFuture on her own and on year later she inspired millions of people around the world to march for #climatestrike

Team up with others
Join an adventure scientist project. Explore, collect and protect the environment
2050 Climate Group; empowering young people to take action on climate change
5 simple ways to act on climate change
Join Extinction Rebellion
Join Trail Runners Connection

Get informed
Take the quiz: The most effective ways to curb climate change might surprise you!
Scientific consensus on climate change – UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
There is no planet B by Mike Berners-Lee
Climate resistance handbook for social change
Climate Change Solutions Summary by Project Drawdown

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