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Ray Zahab          

Ultra-marathon Runner and Adventurer; Host, "The Project"; Author of "Running for My Life"

Challenge. Distance. Discovery

On November 1, 2006, former "pack a day smoker" Ray Zahab and two friends, Charlie Engle and Kevin Lin, both accomplished runners, set out on an expedition to cross the Sahara Desert by foot. 111 days and 7,500 kms after leaving the coast of Senegal, Africa they completed their journey by stepping into the Red Sea.

This epic expedition had the trio running an average of 70kms a day without a single day of rest. National Geographic tracked the expedition by web, as well as the documentary film 'Running The Sahara', produced by Matt Damon and directed by Academy Award winner James Moll, was created in an effort to raise awareness for the drinking water crisis in North Africa. After witnessing and experiencing this water crisis in North Africa, Ray decided to leverage his future adventures to help raise awareness and funding for causes, like this one, that he supports and believes in.

In 2007, Ray ran the three coastal trails of Canada back to back and virtually non-stop, for a total distance of 400 kms. 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 Canada ONExONE 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 13 days. School visits were arranged along the way, students participated and communities became engaged in many of the issues which ONExONE endeavors to address to help improve the wellbeing of the world's children. In Saskatoon alone, several thousand students and 27 schools were involved in school rallies and a city wide relay with Ray and the team.

In 2008, Ray founded impossible2Possible (i2P) an organization that aims to inspire and educate youth through adventure learning, inclusion and participation in expeditions. Youth Ambassadors are selected from around the globe then participate, at no cost, in all aspects of the expedition, from logistics and running to creating educational content and team support. All of the i2P Youth Expeditions have included various challenge based initiatives through an Experiential Learning program, in which thousands of students participate as active 'team members' during the expeditions, from classrooms all over the world. This program and its technology is also provided at no cost to the students or schools participating. Since its inception, i2P Youth Expeditions have included 7 grueling expeditions; Baffin Island, Tunisia, the Amazon, Bolivia, India, Botswana, and Utah. The programs and expeditions are 100% free of cost.

In 2009, Ray and two other Canadians, Kevin Vallely and Richard Weber, 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, a distance of 1,100 kms, solely on foot and snowshoes, without the use of skis. Students from all over North America joined the team on a daily basis, a program provided through impossible2Possible, as the trio continued their southern trek. The students received daily communications and actively took part in every step of the trek. Essentially becoming "teammates" of the expedition, and teammates of the Guinness World Record.

In winter 2010, Ray and Kevin Vallely ran the length of frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia, 650 kms, over the course of 13 days, totally unsupported. Once again communication with satellite video conferencing to schools brought the expedition into classrooms, and classrooms onto the expedition.

In early 2011, Ray ran the length of the "driest desert on Earth", the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Here he ran 1,200 kms in 20 days with minimal daily re-supply and with his camping gear on his back. Thousands of students joined this journey, again under his i2P organization, via live web and video conferencing.

In summer 2011, Ray and Will Laughlin ran from the north park boundary to the south park boundary of Death Valley National Park, totally off-road. The 237 km run saw temps reaching over 120 degrees F.

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!

Ray has also found the time to write 2 successful books about his life and adventures. Running for My Life published in 2007 and Ray's second book, geared at youth readers, Running to Extremes, which recently became a National Best-Seller in Canada.

In addition to being an adventurer, youth advocate and runner, 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 numerous Apple Distinguished Educator events internationally. He has been interviewed and appeared on several talk and news programs including CNNi, The Hour, CBC, CTV, BBC, Jay Leno, and Discovery.

Outside of his own organization Ray further dedicates potions of his time as a proud member of the board of Directors of the Ryan's Well Foundation, he is an Athletic Ambassador/board member of the ONExONE.org, and is a representative of SpreadTheNet. Ray was the recipient of the ONExONE Difference Award in 2007, and the Torchbearers Award in 2010. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Canadian Geographical Society. In spring 2012, Ray was invited by H.E. Tsogtbaatar Damdin (Minister of Environment, Mongolia) to join their Internal Advisory Committee..

He continues today with life as an adventurer and as a volunteer with impossible2Possible. 'Running The Sahara' would begin a lifelong journey of discovery. A journey of learning that some of the largest barriers to success are the ones we put upon ourselves. By breaking these down, Ray has learned that we are all capable of achieving truly extraordinary things.

Speech Topics


Challenge. Distance. Discovery.

Not your typical story of adventure, Ray Zahab’s story has so many lessons learned and shared. Lessons that span hard life decisions, taking risks, believing in ones self, courage, compassion and the unexpected rewards that life and change can bring.

Ray’s story chronicles the true-life eight-year journey from quitting smoking to dipping his hands into the Red Sea after crossing the continent of Africa. The path chosen, the risks taken in pursuit of a dream, and the resulting gift of awareness and knowledge of so many of life’s complicated questions. His journey extends well beyond any physical or mental test. It was a journey of not only self-discovery, but a journey of appreciation of others and their management of their circumstances, as well as unimaginable social, cultural and environmental issues.

This visually stunning presentation takes the audience on an incredible journey through some of the world’s most remote locations, and Ray exudes drama, excitement, humour and compassion. His presentations are based upon his adventures, but they also focus on his philanthropic values, and how his life changing, has changed other lives.

Ray’s international appeal is largely based in the fact that he has a relatable image of the regular guy doing extraordinary things. He became active and started running to change his life. Now adventure and running has provided Ray with a platform to not only inspire – but to change the lives of others as well

News


Ray Zahab's incredible 2300 kilometre journey across the Gobi desert

A little more than a month ago, Ray Zahab set out on an incredible journey. The 44-year-old athlete from Chelsea, Que., aimed to run across the inhospitable ...

Nothing is impossible for Ray Zahab

Ray Zahab’s running adventures have taken him all over the world. He’s crossed the Sahara Desert once and Baffin Island four times. He’s led expeditions through the Atacama Desert and down to the South Pole. Last month, just for fun, he and his wife Kathy ran from the north rim down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up to the top of the southern edge. The next morning they ran the same route in reverse.

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