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The Woman Leading The Charge On The Global 6K For Water

Race Director Ashley Colquitt explains the origin of the Global 6K for Water and how interested runners can participate.

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How Far Would You Run For Clean Water?

Most of us cannot fathom turning on a faucet and not instantly having hot or cold water, but walking more than 3 miles twice a day to get what we have in seconds is a reality for millions in developing countries. The people at World Vision in general, and Ashley Colquitt in particular as the Global 6K for Water race director, are trying to change that, one race at a time.

A Division I basketball player and DePaul University graduate, Colquitt considered running to be the worst part of being an athlete for many years. “Coaches use running as a punishment,” she recalled in a recent phone interview, “and I never understood why anyone would do it, so when I came [to World Vision], I told myself I was not going to turn into one of these crazy runner people who ran marathons on the weekends for fun.”

All of that changed when Colquitt had the opportunity to travel to Kenya in 2015 and see the direct impact of her work and that which her “crazy runner” co-workers had on the people they were helping. “I held the hand of these children who walked to get water before and after school every day, and I wasn’t sacrificing anything.”

After that trip, Colquitt signed up to run the Chicago Marathon (her first ever) in 2016 and raised $13,000 for clean water. “It was life changing,” she said “I hit the wall at mile 23 and I was thinking about walking. But then I thought about those kids in Kenya with 30-pound cans of water, walking up hills every day, and I kept running to the finish.”

Running to the finish of Global 6K races is what she is hoping thousands of others, all over the country and world, will be doing on May 19th. This year’s goal is to have 50,000 participants and raise more than $4 million for the cause.

The 6K distance (roughly 3.7 miles) is how far most people have to walk every day for immediate access to clean water in countries where it is not readily available. But the work does not end when clean water access is established. Global Vision has indigenous staff all over the world, living in the communities they are helping. In 2017, Colquitt had the opportunity to visit Buliisa, Uganda, where access to clean water has changed everything.

“World Vision sends their staff out into the community to weigh newborn babies,” Colquitt said. “Any mother of an underweight baby is invited to a cooking class.” Beyond cooking classes, World Vision helps establish schools, medical centers and many other necessities that are not possible before having immediate access to clean water. “It was the coolest and most interesting thing ever,” said Colquitt, who will be visiting Malawi this fall.

So, how can you run the Global 6K and support the mission of World Vision? This is the information you’ll need to make it happen:

  • Sign up to race the 6K on May 19 by visiting the World Vision website.
  • You may walk, run or push a stroller.
  • Races will be held all over the U.S. and in 15 different countries, so check the website to find a race near you.
  • You can set up your own race in your community and World Vision will send you a race kit, complete with mile markers, bibs, t-shirts, medals and start and finish banners.
  • You can also run an individual race and receive a race kit with a bib, t-shirt and medal.
  • Each race shirt has a picture of a child who will directly benefit from your participation.

The deadline to register and receive a race kit by race day passed on May 14; however, you can sign up until race day (May 19) and have a temporary bib emailed to you while the rest of your kit makes its way through the mail.

As for Ashley Colquitt, she will be at World Vision’s headquarters in Seattle on May 19 overseeing the Global 6K races. On May 20, she will put on her race t-shirt and run the distance alone, knowing that she is helping to change the world.