Blog

Ray Zahab- Ultramarathoner, Adventurer, Founder of impossible2Possible

May 2011

On November 1, 2006 former “pack a day smoker” Ray Zahab and two other runners set out on an epic expedition to cross the Sahara Desert by foot. One hundred and eleven days and 7500 kms  after leaving the coast of Senegal they completed their journey stepping into the Red Sea. The epic expedition had the trio running an average of 70km’s a day, without a single day of rest. National Geographic tracked this epic expedition by web, and the documentary film ‘Running The Sahara’ – produced by Matt Damon, directed by Academy Award winner James Moll – was filmed in an effort raise awareness for the drinking water crisis in Northern Africa.  After witnessing and experiencing the water crisis in northern Africa, Ray decided to leverage his future adventures to raising awareness and funding for causes that he supports and believes in. Running The Sahara would begin a journey of discovery- of learning that some of the largest barriers to success are the ones we put upon ourselves. Breaking these down, we can truly achieve extraordinary things.

In 2007, Ray ran the three coastal trails of Canada, back to back and non-stop. The Akshayuk Pass on Baffin Island, East Coast Trail Newfoundland and West Coast Trail in British Columbia.

Motivated by the Sahara run- Ray conceptualized the CanadaONExONE Run in May 2008. Along with a team of runners, Ray ran an average 80 kms per day in each of Canada’s 13 Provinces and Territories in so many days. Schools were visited, students participated, and communities became engaged in many of the child based issues  ONExONE is addressing. In Saskatoon alone, several thousand students and 27 schools were involved in school rallies and a city wide relay with Ray and the team.

Two years after touching the Red Sea, Ray, and two other Canadians, broke the world speed record  for an unsupported expedition by a team to the South Pole, In the process, Ray trekked this traditional route from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole solely on foot and snowshoes- without the use of skis. Students and classrooms from all over North America joined the team as they trekked to the South Pole on a daily basis- communicating and actively taking part  in an educational resource– becoming “team mates” of the expedition.  This expedition was completed as part of Ray’s organization, impossible2Possible.

In 2008, Ray founded impossible2Possible (i2P), an organization that aims to inspire and educate youth through adventure learning, and inclusion and participation in expeditions.

Ray is a proud member of the board of Directors of the Ryan’s Well Foundation, is the official Athletic Ambassador and a board member of the ONExONE organization, and is a representative of SpreadTheNet.  Ray was the recipient of the ONExONE Difference Award in 2007, and the Torchbearers Award in 2010.

Throughout 2009 and 2010, expeditions have included: an unsupported 13 day run the length of frozen Lake Baikal, 3 Youth based expeditions to Baffin Island, Tunisia and the Amazon. All of these expeditions supported various initiatives through an Experiential Learning program in which thousands of students participated as active team members during the expeditions, from classrooms all over the world.

Ray has appeared multiple times in the media, including CNNi, The Hour, CBC, CTV, BBC, Jay Leno, Discovery, etc.

In addition to his running adventures, Ray speaks around the world at events such as TED, IOC World Conference, Idea City, The Economist World in 2010 and 2011, World Affairs Council and countless major corporate events- spreading the message that we are all capable of the extraordinary in our lives and that in fact, the impossible is possible.

August 2009 
Ray has been using 7SYSTEMS to help him achieve some truly amazing adventures.  Always full of energy, he is an example of someone who is always striving to DO MORE.  Which is exactly why he is a member of the 7SYSTEMS 2010 Pro Team.  Below is his take on this year’s accomplishments and his answers to 7 Questions from 7SYSTEMS.
 
“This year has been amazing. A 650+ km unsupported run across Lake Baikal in Siberia (in winter running an average of 50 kms per day!) and the impossible2possible RunningTunisia expedition in which 4 Youth Ambassadors ran 260+ kms through sandstorms, searing heat and endless dunes.
The Ambassadors recorded their experiences by video which CNN then used to broadcast updates twice a day! Even more amazing…they communicated LIVE to close to 10 000 students that tracked their daily progress using the latest technology-and the students in classrooms participated in an Experiential Learning Program based on the topic of water.  The students in the schools following have raised close to  $20 000 for water projects in Africa!”
 
Check out the video journals in the Experience the Run section of www.runningtunisia.com
 
 

 

February 2009
canada-at-south-pole“I’ve completed many multi-week expeditions before but I have never recovered as well, day after day, as I did on my way to the South Pole. 7SYSTEMS was integral in providing our bodies with the support they needed to complete this grueling expedition.”

In December 2008, three world-class adventurers, including ultra-runner Ray Zahab, legendary arctic explorer Richard Weber, and elite adventurer Kevin Vallely began a self-supported trek from Hercules Inlet to the Geographic South Pole; a distance of over 1,100km. With an existing record of 39 days and a goal of 40 days, they dragged sleds weighing over 170 pounds (73 kilograms) each, and arrived at the Pole on January 6th, 2009 in a new record time of 33 days 23 hours and 55 minutes. Their choice of supplement: 7SYSTEMS endurance sport supplement. Ray Zahab is a world renowned ultra marathon runner and adventurer. His story is as compelling as the adventures he undertakes.

www.southpolequest.com

7 Questions from 7SYSTEMS

1. What accomplishment are you most proud of in your sporting career?

RZ: The day I finished my first impossible2Possible Youth Expedition…to see young adventurers do and complete an expedition that very few people would attempt was incredible! I am also very proud of each of the expeditions I have been fortunate to complete- from running all 3 of Canada’s coastal trails back to back, to running across the entire Sahara, from west coast to east coast of Africa.

2. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

RZ: Whenever I have a bad day or start feeling sorry for myself to remember that guaranteed someone is having a much more difficult time then me. In other words, never lose appreciation for what I am so fortunate to do day to day.

3. What motivates you to get up every day and kick your own ass?

RZ: There are several factors. I do love to challenge myself and push my limits, but lately on expeditions such as Siberia, the difficulty of the conditions and the running are insane. With very little sleep, frigid conditions and exhausted body, i am still so-o-o pumped at the end of each day on an expedition to fire up the BGAN and communicate with the students. They inspire me!

4. Who is the person you look up to most and why?

RZ: Again, many people. Some of note… Phil Fontaine, Senator Romeo Dallaire, Marshall Ulrich, Richard Weber, Lisa Smith. These are all people with conviction and dedication to what they believe in- and in my opinion are pioneers.  

5. If you were stranded on an island what book would you want to have with you?

RZ: Celebrating Inuit Art 1948-1970 with assorted essays by folks like Anne Hanson. It would be my piece of Canada.

6. What’s your favorite unhealthy snack?

RZ: Potato Chips, burgers, pizza, poutine…help, I can’t stop!

7. What is the best restaurant you’ve ever been too and what did you eat there?

RZ: Some funky little place in a small community in Mali halfway across Running the Sahara that had chicken. First chicken i ate in 50 days, and it was awesome!

Try it now