Katie Spotz of Cape Elizabeth, front right, makes her way to the Freeport coast in the last miles of her 137-mile cross-state run on Sunday, surrounded by friends. Photo courtesy of Katie Spotz

A Coast Guard officer added another feat to her impressive list of endurance achievements by running nonstop for nearly 34 hours across the state last weekend.

Katie Spotz, 33, of Cape Elizabeth covered 137.8 miles from the Quebec border near Carrabassett Valley to the Maine coast in Freeport during a run that she said raised $17,500 for Lifewater, a nonprofit that provides clean water to third-world communities.

Spotz’s run could enter the record books as the first cross-state, nonstop run ever completed in Maine. It has yet to be verified by Fastestknowntime.com, a website that lists about two dozen speed records recorded on GPS watches, most of those in Maine at Acadia National Park. The run took 33 hours, 40 minutes, according to Spotz’s watch, and included 4,900 feet of uphill running.

It was her first endurance challenge in Maine, and the first fundraiser she’s undertaken since the Coast Guard assigned Spotz, an ensign, to the South Portland. Previously, she had raced in three marathons, three ultra marathons, five Ironman triathlons, and became the first person to swim the entire 325-mile length of the Allegheny River.

In 2010, she became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean – a record that has since been broken – all to raise money to help provide clean water around the globe. To date, Spotz said, her endurance challenges have raised nearly $400,000.

Spotz said her nonstop run from Coburn Gore at the Quebec border through the Carrabassett Valley, Farmington, Livermore, Turner, Lewiston and on to Freeport was far and away her most grueling endurance challenge yet. Previously, the longest she had run at any one time in an ultra marathon was 24 hours.


Early in the run, Spotz had pain in her ankles and they started swelling up. At Maine Medical Center after the run, she was diagnosed with edema, a condition that is expected to heal completely.

Spotz ran much of the 137-miles across Maine alone, before being joined by a pack of friends at the end. Photo courtesy of Katie Spotz

“I felt I reached my physical limit more than ever before in Maine,” she said as she recovered at a friend’s house Wednesday. “It’s hard to compare 30 hours running to 70 days at sea, but I didn’t have the physical pain rowing that I did in the 30-hour run in Maine. I definitely asked my body to do more than was recommended. That was the limit. No doctor tells you to go run 137 miles nonstop. I want to honor my body now by not pushing it so hard.”

Spotz started her run at 6 a.m. Saturday, and by the time she saw her uncle, Pat Mullee – who surprised her by driving from Ohio to come cheer – at around the 24-hour mark, Spotz thought she was hallucinating.

Mullee, who lives in Spotz’s hometown of Mentor, Ohio, came to cheer and post signs along her route. He ended up buying bandages to help tape up her swollen ankles during the run.

After years of hearing stories of his niece’s endurance challenges, Mullee said he was more frightened than he anticipated as he watched her battle through one.

“At one point I was talking to my brother (on my cell) and I saw a police car go by with flashing lights on Route 136. And I thought, for sure she had collapsed in the road,” Mullee said. “It just amazed me. She’s done some amazing things. This just adds to the list.”


Katie Spotz hopes to start a nonprofit foundation to help raise money to provide clean water to third-world communities. Photo courtesy of Katie Spotz

When Mullee got to Freeport, he drove to find Spotz’s friends who were waiting to run the last three miles with her – to tell them Spotz was struggling a mile back. Beth Fisher of Gorham, one of the friends, said they ran back to find Spotz.

“I knew Katie would finish. There was never a doubt she would finish,” said Fisher, 29. “She is one of the most motivated people I have ever met. She told us at the end, she didn’t have much left. But she was still making jokes. She asked me if I wanted to switch ankles. If I could, I would have.”

After a trip to the emergency room and two days spent in bed unable to walk, Spotz felt only gratitude Wednesday.

“So many people showed up in ways I didn’t even think to ask,” Spotz said. “And so many people donated money. I feel so grateful for that support.”

Spotz ran her first marathon at age 18. Then in college, when a professor spoke about the water crisis around the world, she became inspired to help. When she cycled across the country at age 19 to raise money for the American Lung Association, Spotz began to visualize helping a charity devoted to the water crisis by undertaking endurance challenges of her own making.

At 21, she swam the 325-mile length of the Allegheny River in New York state and Pennsylvania – her first fundraiser for Lifewater. At age 22, she undertook her historic solo row across the Atlantic.

“I think once you know the whole pacing, once you have the cardiovascular base, at least for me, it’s easy to apply that to running fitness or swimming or cycling,” Spotz said.

But after the injuries sustained from her cross-Maine run, Spotz is giving more thought to establishing a nonprofit that encourages and assists others taking on endurance challenges to raise money for clean water.

“I think if I go back to endurance I definitely want to make it a little lighter and little more fun,” Spotz said with a laugh. “Running is hard on the body. But a lot of people have shared their aspirations to do things. I’m working on starting a Katie Spotz Foundation. The ball is moving on that.”

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