Leitner, the 27-year-old founder of community-based clean water organization is running 30 miles per day for 30 days during the month of July. His goal: to raise $30,000 for a clean water system for the St. Elizabeth’s All-Girls School in Uganda.
The Scotch Plains native kicked off his current fundraiser on July 1st at the crack of dawn. For the past two weeks, he’s been running 37.5 laps on a .8 mile loop at Tamaques Park in Westfeild. With 450 miles completed and the same about left to go, Leitner has had some physical challenges to overcome.
“For the past 13 days, I have been pushing it to beat the heat. With high temperatures and high humidity, each day reaches the triple-digits. I have had good success with running the distance, dealing with the heat, and managing my pain,” Leitner said on Monday. “To calm down and relax, I am going to change my game plan for the next few days. I am going to try and start my day close to 5:00 a.m. and walk more. Slowing down and enjoying the day is only going to bring better success considering we are almost halfway!”
So far, Leitner has raised just over $22,000 of his $30,000 goal. Despite the challenges, he isn’t giving up.
“With all of the ups and downs, emotional highs and lows, sleepless nights, and mental exhaustion, once you see your work benefiting someone or a community, it’s all worth it. It was not until I saw clean water flow from the taps, and not until I saw the community managing the system on their own, that I felt overwhelmed with emotion and teary eyed with happiness.”
Leitner’ 900-mile run is the most recent in a series of ultra-endurance fundraising events.
In 2017, Leitner walked 3,250 miles from New Jersey to California while pulling 10 gallons of water to raise money for a clean water system in Tanzania. It took him 143 days, symbolized the distance that women and girls in Africa walk every year fetching water for their families. In fall 2019, Leitner ran 100 miles in 24 hours, all on a .8 mile loop (that's over 130 laps!). For another ultra-endurance fundraiser, he ran a marathon a month for 12 straight months, all while carrying 45 lbs of water over his head.
Leitner’s endurance fundraisers have funded water systems that have helped 4,500 people and 1,500 students gain access to clean drinking water. Learn more and follow James Leitner in his journey click here.