During our 111 day run across the Sahara Desert in 2006/2007, we learned so much about a place, a culture, and ourselves. Our 7,500km expedition had truly become a great learning opportunity.
When I returned home, I made the decision that I wanted to connect people – especially youth – to not only the amazing places that I was learning about, but also the cultures of the areas i was exploring, using the latest technologies as a way to share expeditions in real time.
Below is an ongoing list of expeditions since Running The Sahara. Please visit impossible2Possible.com for a list of i2P Youth Expeditions, and information about the Experiential Learning programs associated with each expedition.
Arctic Extreme – February 2017
Starting February 1st 2017, Ray Zahab (CAN) and Stefano Gregoretti (ITA) embarked on an ambitious expedition to three separate regions of the Canadian North. The goal was to traverse each of these three diverse regions under human power, each requiring a different set of skills and training!
The original route would take them close to 1,000km across the frozen north, where temps dropped below -60°C, and the risk of severe weather was always a hurdle. Expeditions are always unpredictable, this time even more so. After nearly being washed away in the icy waters of Labrador, the team would go on to successfully complete the second two stages. Endurance, logistics and unpredictable weather made this one of the most challenging expeditions either adventurer has attempted to date.
Arctic2Atacama – February 2016
In February 2016, Ray Zahab (CAN), Jen Segger (CAN) and Stefano Gregoretti (Italy) set out on a unique and challenging expedition that spanned 100 degrees celsius on the thermometer. The team journeyed from -50°C (-58F) to +50°C (120F) over 1,500km, on mountain bikes and foot, crossing both Baffin Island in Canadian winter, and the Atacama Desert in Chilean summer.
Patagonia Expedition – January 2015
In January 2015, myself, Ryan Grant and Stefano Gregoretti ran over 1,000kms/620 miles across the Patagonian Desert- one of the most remote and extreme deserts on Earth. The Patagonian Desert is the largest of the 40° parallel and is a large cold winter desert, where the temperature rarely exceeds 12 °C and averages just 3 °C. The team traversed the desert in South American summer – with temperatures exceeding 40 °C.
The area is sparsely populated today and those that do live here survive mainly by raising livestock. Not the easiest place to live…or to run across! The team ran a combination of terrain, including long sections with minimal or no support.
Baffin Expedition – March 2014
Ray Zahab and his friends Ferg Hawke, Stefano Gregoretti and Ryan Grant spent ten days in Canada’s Arctic on an unsupported crossing of the Akshayuk Pass (running for 48 hours, the other 8 days involved filming & learning in Arctic communities) and visited with old and new friends!
The 2014 Baffin Expedition was part two in the To The Edge documentary series in which Ray and his film team share the extraordinary people and circumstances that are the real story of these running expeditions! This was be Ray’s 4th crossing of the Akshayuk Pass since 2007 and the team was excited to visit one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Gobi Expedition – June 2013
Beginning June 23rd 2013, Ray ran over 2,000km across Mongolia and the Gobi Desert. He was accompanied by both a film crew and photographer who recorded not only the expedition, but also created an robust film archive sharing the stories of the people and culture of Mongolia.
This marks the beginning of the “To The Edge” series chronicling the stories and people and that Ray comes into to contact with on expeditions…situations and people that occur when at the edges of the Earth!
Death Valley – August 2011
Starting August 26th, 2011, Ray joined friend Will Laughlin to run the length of Death Valley- from north park boundary to south park boundary. The distance was close to 250km, and the duo relied on water re-supply every 10-25km during the entirely off-road run.
Ray tested gear, new technologies and foods he will use in upcoming expeditions- most importantly for a January attempt to run 2,000km across Saudi Arabia (back-up plan Kalahari). During the run, the duo carried emergency supplies, food and fluid required for each 10-25km section. Running packs were heavy with 7-8 liters of fluid required for each leg.
Atacama Extreme – Jan-Feb 2011
On February 12th 2011, I completed the Atacama Extreme Expedition! The expedition began near the Peruvian border, north of Arica, and ended in the Province of Copiapo approximately 1,200km later. The expedition took a total of 20 days to complete and I ran an average of 60km per day while carrying camping supplies and relied on minimal daily water/food re-supplies. During the expedition, I communicated via videoconferencing to students everywhere!
This expedition followed the Amazon Youth Expedition which took place in October 2010. The topic of biodiversity was once again visited and the contrast of the Atacama Desert to the Amazon Jungle was highlighted. Daily video journals touched on topics such as history, industry, life and desert environment.
Siberian Express for Water – March 2010
i2P Founder Ray Zahab and i2P Ambassador Kevin Vallely teamed up for another epic impossible2Possible expedition. The two adventurers travelled to the far reaches of frozen Siberia and the remote shores of Lake Baikal, the oldest, deepest lake in the world, to run some 650km unsupported down the length of its frozen surface. The team averaged approximately 50km per day on this grueling expedition, while hauling all of their food and supplies.
South Pole Quest – Dec 2008-Jan 2009
To inspire the adventurer in everyone by attempting a self-supported speed trek in which three world-class adventurers pulled sleds weighing close to 200 pounds from Hercules Inlet to the Geographic South Pole, setting a speed record for this traditional expedition route. The trek covered 1,100km mostly uphill distance, taking the adventurers from sea level to approxiately 10,000 feet in temperatures of less than -40 degrees Celcius. The team achieved a new world record.
During the expedition, i2P Adventurers blogged daily, and answered questions from students on the South Pole Quest website. Thousands of students had a two way street of communication with the South Pole Quest team and were active team members during this expedition. The South Pole, viewed by scientists as a key part of the earth’s thermostatic regulation system, is undergoing changes that threaten to destroy the earth’s fragile balance, impacting human communities around the globe. i2P’s South Pole Quest raised awareness, support research, and educated youth with daily free downloadable modules, and challenged them to achieve their own Extraordinary Acts.
The Canada ONEXONE Expedition – May 2008
Starting May 11th, 2008, Ray Zahab and a team of runners set off to run an average of 80 kilometres a day for 13 days straight – through 13 provinces and territories – in an effort to inspire youth and raise awareness for the ONEXONE foundation!
From participating with 10,000 students in Saskatoon to meeting with Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine, the journey was both inspirational and effective in elevating awareness for ONEXONE.
Canada Challenge – August 2007
My goal was to run 3 very extreme coastal trails in Canada- one right after the other. All in an effort to raise awareness for initiatives – specifically SpreadTheNet.org. The trails were 1000’s of kms apart, and were super tough running combined with insane logisitics. I started in Canada’s North on Baffin Island (Akshayuk Pass – 100km), then Newfoundland (East Coast Trail – 220km) and finally British Columbia (West Coast Trail – 75km).
The most exciting part of this expedition was the number of bed nets that were purchased during this exciting run by so many amazing people.
Running The Sahara – 2006-2007
On November 1, 2006 Ray and two other runners set out on an epic expedition to cross the Sahara Desert by foot. Finishing in February 2007, Ray Zahab, Charlie Engle and Kevin Lin reached the Red Sea after running 7,500km across the entire Sahara Desert raising awareness for clean-water initiatives in Africa. This feat consisted of running an average of 70 km per day for 111 days in extreme desert conditions through six countries.
The film Running The Sahara narrated and produced by Matt Damon and directed by James Moll was released in an effort to raise awareness for the water crisis in Northern Africa.