Changing the world one stride at a time | WWF South Africa

What would you like to search for?

Our blog

Changing the world one stride at a time

As an extreme athlete, whose feet have touched many different parts of our planet, I have literally experienced the journey of our water – and I want to inspire others to care for our amazing natural water resources as much as I do.

Keeping hydrated and close to nature is what fuels extreme athlete Ryan Sandes.

I can go a long time without eating a serious meal. I can prepare my body for that. But there’s only so much the body can take before it needs to hydrate. Water gives me the ability to push myself as far as possible. It puts me back in the game when I’m reaching my limit. It is our most precious resource. And not just for people like me; it’s vital to all of us. When I’m on a run, training or competing, water is my source of strength.
 
It also makes our world beautiful. It’s the source of life for plants, people, everything.  Our world relies on our natural water resources, our catchment areas, springs, and rivers. If we care for them, we make sure nature is always able to provide us with clean, fresh drinking water and food, too.

Running for good

Extreme athlete Ryan Sandes is no stranger to harsh landscapes. And he's got a message about our water resources.

To work with WWF and the Laureus Foundation is an honour. I am lucky to be able to motivate others and help them understand how our decisions impact our future.
 
This is something I’ve come to learn during my training.  I like to imagine the world as one big body. The forests are our lungs, the Earth’s surface is our skin, and so on. Everything is linked. When one part of the system is healthy and happy, it makes a real difference to the rest, like a giant chain reaction.
 
I grew up in a beautiful place called Hout Bay in the Western Cape, surrounded by the sea and mountains. There, nature is all around you. You’ve got Chapmans Peak on one side and Constantia Nek on the other. There is so much room to run and explore different pathways and trails along picture-perfect pathways. There are a lot of waterfalls in those mountains, I visit often to rehydrate. The drought in the Western Cape has resulted in a severe water shortage and I’ve seen it first hand: while some waterfalls remain, sadly many are not there anymore.

The change to come

My professional career is really based on overcoming the incredible challenges that only nature can present. Often I run between two or three different, testing types of terrain in just one race, from deserts to forests and really cold mountaintops. It’s what makes running an adventure. I want people to feel that too, to have a relationship with the natural world like I do, in their own way. I know mine is quite extreme.
 
I really believe many small actions can have an impact on the bigger picture. We all have a role to play. If we change the way we use water and encourage others to make the right choices and change their habits too, we can significantly alter the future of our water sources.
Every action counts.

Ryan Sandes Photo
Ryan Sandes, extreme athlete

Ryan Sandes is the first person to win all four stages in the 4 Desert Series, one of the world’s toughest ultra-distance races, and a champion for our natural water resources.

Share This!

Help us spread the message

JOIN THE MOVEMENT

Find out how you can live more in harmony with nature