“On the Trail of the Chasquis” with Ray Zahab, Extreme Athlete and Aeroplan Member

Imagine running 7,500 km across the entire Sahara Dessert to raise awareness for clean-water initiatives for Africa, or running across all 13 provinces and territories in 13 days to raise awareness for ONEXONE foundation.  For most of us, even imagining this is difficult.  For Aeroplan Member Ray Zahab, he wouldn’t have it any other way! In the late 90’s, Ray made a decision that ultimately change his life.  He was inspired by his brother to give up his pack a day smoking habit and head outdoors.  He became immersed in outdoor sports, and started running ultra marathons shortly after.  His goal was to learn something new about himself, and what he learned was that he was going to run, forever! We caught up with Ray as he was getting ready for his next expedition, “On the Trail of the Chasquis.” Aeroplan: Tell us about your first major expedition. Ray Zahab: Well I was entering races all over the world and had won a handful.  I decided, with my buddies Charlie Engle and Kevin Lin, to run across the entire Sahara Desert. In 2006-2007 we spent 111 days running an average of nearly 70 km per day and crossed the Sahara West to East.  The expedition was filmed, and the documentary Running The Sahara was narrated and produced by Matt Damon. I have had several expeditions since then including a run across Lake Baikal in Siberia, a 33 day trek to the South Pole with 2 buddies, and lots more!

Aeroplan: The “On the trail of the Chasquis” expedition is coming up on January 25th, can you tell us more about it? Ray Zahab: My teammate Kevin Vallely and I are running the length of the entire Atacama Desert in Chile.  We plan to run from the northern edge of the Atacama, near the Peruvian border, and run south finishing somewhere near Copiapo (approximately 1,200 km from north to south). We hope to run an average of 80 km per day, carrying all of our daily supplies with us and we will re-supply at the end of each day with more water. We’ll be communicating our expedition with thousands of students all over the globe live.   This expedition follows one we just completed in the Amazon jungle in which 4 Youth Ambassadors from my foundation impossible2Possible trekked for one week through a dense jungle, sharing their experiences and what they were learning about biodiversity with thousands of students in classrooms all over the world. Aeroplan: Why did you choose the Atacama Desert? Ray Zahab: The Atacama Desert is an incredible place, very arid, it seldom rains, and Chile has some striking geographical features!  Each year impossible2Possible conducts 3 expeditions. Two are youth based and one is an exciting “kick start” to each year. “On the trail of the Chasquis” is the kick start project for 2011! We wanted to attempt something that would be unbelievably challenging and compelling for students to follow!

Aeroplan: You spoke briefly about your foundation impossible2Possible (i2P), tell us more about it . Ray Zahab: I founded impossible2Possible in 2008. This non-profit organization has a goal of using adventure as a backdrop for quality experiential learning programs. We bring Youth Ambassadors on incredible expeditions all over the world. Through participation and live video conferencing they share their experiences, what they were learning about themselves in such an extraordinary journey and what they were learning from local people along the way, with classrooms all over the world. The inspiration behind impossible2Possible really came from a simple concept; we are all capable of doing amazing things in our lives. Aeroplan: How can Aeroplan Members Help? Ray Zahab: Aeroplan Members can support impossible2Possible in many ways. One is to mention our programs to schools in their area. We really want to provide a free, engaging and exciting learning opportunity for classrooms everywhere. I am a father (with another on the way!) and I truly hope my children have access to various interesting ways of learning such as this. Of course our Youth Expeditions are very costly. By donating Aeroplan Miles, members are providing the most important first step in an expedition….getting our youth team members there! Follow Ray Zahab on his Atacama Extreme Expedition starting on January 25th, 2011 here.  We’ll be updating you all on his progress during the expedition with images and journals from Ray and Kevin.

Good luck to Ray Zahab and Kevin Vallely on their upcoming Expedition!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply