We all know running a marathon is a major accomplishment, whether it’s your first or your last – it’s a pretty big freakin’ deal. But what about doing a marathon once a month for a year? Pretty challenging right?
Okay – but let’s take it a step further: what if while running each marathon, you carried a 45-pound jug of water over your head for all 26.2 miles?
Is your jaw on the floor yet? Pick it up and meet 23-year-old runner James Leitner, who is doing just that to raise awareness for a special cause. He’s already completed eight marathons and has four more to go to meet his ridiculously-inspiring mission. And to add another layer of ‘Wow!’ – get this: the first time he did it? It was his very first marathon.
“On October 1, the half-year mark, I completed my sixth marathon. This includes a marathon that started at midnight, another that was a trail marathon, and one that was constant hills” he says.
Leitner is raising awareness for the Philadelphia Serengeti Alliance. This non-profit works to improve gender equality, education and health by providing clean drinking water to areas in Tanzania.
“During each marathon, I experience a moment of physical and mental exhaustion. Everything hurts. Four hours have passed, and it’s only 11 a.m.,” he says. “Remembering who I am doing this for helps me get past those walls and finish. Helping others gain access to clean water is what I love to do and see doing for the rest of my life.”
As a board member, Leitner is part of the group that is working to repair broken wells in the Mara region of Tanzania. There are a total of 307 wells in this region, and if they get repaired, the group can provide water to 400,000 people (that’s equivalent to the entire population of Pittsburgh!).
“The gift of drinking water is something we do not think about until it is taken away from us,” he says.
You can find Leitner at his 9th Marathon on this Saturday, January 7th at The Watchung Winter Marathon in Summit, NJ. We’re rootin’ for you!