BELFAST — Katie Spotz, clean water activist, athlete, world record holder and also a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, is biking the coast of Maine, raising money and awareness to provide children in Africa access to clean water.

Her endurance challenge Ride4Water started Sept. 5 at West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec. By Wednesday, Sept. 8, Spotz had biked through Belfast, along with 50 pounds of gear, to her destination for the evening — Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Bristol.

She told The Republican Journal her journey would take her 360 miles along the Atlantic shoreline, reaching Kittery Friday, Sept. 10. The challenge will raise funds for nonprofit “H2O for Life,” whose global mission is to ensure every child has safe water.

Spotz is no stranger to ultra-endurance challenges, having run 62 miles nonstop across New Hampshire in 11 hours in 2020 and later that year ran 74 miles nonstop across Vermont in 13 hours. Ride4Water is Spotz’s 11th endurance challenge to raise money for clean water projects in developing communities around the world.

She rose to the public spotlight during her 2010 campaign Row For Life, when she set records rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 70 days. To date, Spotz’s work has impacted people all over the world, including in Haiti, Dominican Republic, India, Honduras, Guatemala and Nigeria.

Reached by phone Wednesday evening, Spotz said she had stopped for the day about a mile from Pemaquid Lighthouse, where she and a friend who is accompanying her on her trek were camping out for the night.

“The weather so far has been OK,” she said. “A little sun, a little rain. Even when it rained it wasn’t a downpour.” Speaking as a true marathoner, she added, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, there’s just bad gear.”

Using Warm Showers, the nonprofit hospitality exchange service for bicyclists, she found places to set up camp along the way.

Because this effort is less physically demanding than her previous running challenges, Spotz said, she is able to take in the countryside more, noting she still carries around 50 pounds’ worth of gear with her on the bike. “Every hill — you definitely feel,” she said. “You don’t appreciate the end if you don’t have times of struggle.

“I am using vacation time from the Coast Guard to complete the biking challenge,” she said. “This is my 11th challenge for clean water, and I have raised $320,000 for the clean water projects.”

Besides water, Spotz said, the program also provides latrines, hand-washing stations and education to schools, which leads to improvement in health and learning for students and gives them hope.

In her travelogue on Facebook, Spotz wrote, “I’ve been going a long way for water but not as long as those who trek four miles every single day for it.”

Spotz says her operation runs on a shoestring with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the cause.

“Reaching the halfway point yesterday was exciting, but even more exciting is now we are more than halfway towards the fundraising goal of raising $3,600 cycling for a water project in Uganda with this 360-mile cycle across Maine,” she said. “Right now, we have raised $2,522, with $1,078 left to go!

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