Katie Spotz, a U.S. Coast Guard based in South Portland, was recognized as the 2020 U.S. Coast Guard Elite Female Athlete. Courtesy photo Becca Dunn Photography

SOUTH PORTLAND — On April 23, Katie Spotz, a local activist and athlete, was named the 2020 U.S. Coast Guard Elite Female Athlete of the Year.

Having been in the U.S. Coast Guard since 2018, Spotz raised $26,000 last year through her athletic endeavors in order to bring clean water to communities in need around the world, she said.

She is currently stationed in South Portland.

Most recently, Spotz has been training to run 11 marathons in 11 days. Beginning June 21, the challenge is raising money to fund clean water in Uganda.

A statement released from the U.S. Coast Guard said Spotz’s achievements have gained national attention.

“ENS Spotz distinguished herself in the sport of running,” the statement said. “She is an endurance athlete and charitable ambassador that has raised more than $400,000 for clean water projects worldwide. In 2020, ENS Spotz organized Run4Water initiatives and set records, becoming the first woman ever to do nonstop runs across the states of New Hampshire and Vermont and the first person ever to do a nonstop run across the state of Maine.”

Spotz was recognized at an award ceremony at Portland Head Light, presented by Rear Admiral Thomas G. Allan Jr., she said.

“It was definitely super humbling,” she said. “I admire the people I work among.”

One of Spotz’s favorite aspects of the U.S. Coast Guard is the people she works with, she said. Although the position can be nerve-wracking, she enjoys dealing with unknown situations.

When receiving attention or recognition, Spotz hopes to inspire others, she said.

“It’s not about me,” she said. “I hope it helps show others what they’re capable of. I’ve always believed any kind of achievement is not to lift yourself up, but others up. I hope to inspire other people, especially women, to find the strength they have within themselves.”

She said she was once a benchwarmer until she took a running and walking class in school, where she became interested in training to run a mile.

“I am definitely an accidental athlete,” Spotz said. “That’s where it all began, just running one mile.”

The athletes awarded show themselves to be outstanding role models, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement.

“ENS Spotz not only competes at the highest level of excellence for herself, but she strives to inspire and empower female athletes through a good cause,” the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Spotz picked South Portland’s base, being a non-native Mainer, and said she enjoys taking lunch breaks and runs at Bug Light as well as visiting Willard Beach with friends.

People interested in Spotz’s fundraising can visit katiespotz.com.

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