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ExWeb interview with Ray Zahab: Organizing student involvement it is the most rewarding part

Posted: Mar 04, 2010 04:45 pm EST

Canadians Ray Zahab and Kevin Vallely are currently running across Lake Baikal in a speed record attempt. Their daily milage for the first three days are 60, 45 and 50 km.

Before they left Ray spoke to ExWeb about their Baikal preparations and the impossible2possible (i2P) programs that involve schools in their expeditions. Correne Coetzer spoke to him.

ExplorersWeb: How do you feel about Lake Baikal at the moment?

Ray: Im incredibly excited about the expedition especially since we will be communicating our adventure with close to 8500 students in classrooms all around the world.

ExplorersWeb: What was the most difficult part of your preparation?

Ray: The most difficult part of my preparation has been organizing the logistics required so that the students can actively participate in our expedition on line. I have been skyping classrooms daily leading up to the expedition and although the educational component is very time consuming to prepare, for me it is the most rewarding part of an expedition.

ExplorersWeb: What is the aim of this expedition?

Ray: Apart from the speed record. I founded an organization called impossible2possible. We have an amazing team of over 20 people dedicated to inspiring and educating young people through an experiential learning program. Kevin and I truly share a common goal of leaving students with the belief that they can achieve extraordinary things.

ExplorersWeb: How can schools become part of your mission?

Ray: All of the impossible2possible programs are free and schools simply register on www.impossible2possible.com when an expedition is announced.

For Siberian Express we are full, but we will be announcing soon registration for our youth expedition this April. As usual, anyone can use any of the features like the educational resource material, even if they are not registered. Just go to www.siberianx.com www.siberianx.com

ExplorersWeb: You have had a project on Baffin Island. What did you achieve there?

Ray: Our goal on Baffin Island was for the five Youth Ambassadors to undertake their own unsupported trek. They were successful and shared their expedition with thousands of students in classrooms everywhere. It was very rewarding for me to see them achieve their goal.

ExplorersWeb: Tunisia is up next for I2P. What are you going to do there with the youth and why? Who will accompany them? When?

Ray: In 2006 myself and two teammates ran 7500km across the Sahara Desert in 111 days. The idea with the Tunisian expedition is to share a similar experience with 5 new Youth Ambassadors who will run across Northern Tunisia. Some of our same team from the Running the Sahara expedition will accompany them. We are targeting end of April for this 200km run.

ExplorersWeb: Do you involve other accomplished adventurers in I2P? What do they do?

Ray: Yes, we draw upon the experience of many individuals for our youth based expeditions. We team with adventurers that share our passion for inspiring young people. Some of the adventurers weve teamed up with are Kevin Vallely, Marshall Ulrich, Jen Segger, Richard Weber and Kevin Lin.

ExplorersWeb: What drives you to keep running, skiing, pushing yourself?

Ray: I started running a little over 6 years ago and have been living a very active lifestyle for the last 10 or so years and I can tell you that it has taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined. What keeps me going is the desire to share this realization with young people.

ExplorersWeb: What are you looking forward to on Lake Baikal?

Ray: Im looking forward to not only pushing ourselves to our limits but sharing the expedition with classrooms around the world.

ExplorersWeb: What preparations or will you still need to do in Russia?

Ray: Our last minute preparations in Russia will be to make our sleds as light as possible.

ExplorersWeb: Why is Kevin a good teammate?

Ray: Kevin and I balance each other very well and share common goals. This is very important in a teammate. On the South Pole expedition we had a fantastic time together its good to know when things are as tough as they can get we can still share a laugh.

ExplorersWeb: Where does your family life fit in?

Ray: My wife and I are best friends and support each other and believe in what each other does. The expeditions are a family affair whether my daughter Mia is rummaging through our gear as we pack or my wife being my training partner, we do this as a family team.

Ray Zahab was born in Ottawa, Canada on February 11th, 1969. He grew up on a hobbyhorse farm in Carp, Ontario with his brother John, and his parents. Fast forward 39 years to today, and I now live with my incredible wife and soul mate Kathy and our daughter Mia Sahara in Chelsea, Quebec, says Ray. He is very passionate about the organizations he work with, and when not running he divides his time sitting on the board of directors.

Rays ultra-marathons:
- 2004 Yukon Arctic Ultra, 160 km
- 2004 Jungle Marathon, Amazon, 250 km
- 2004 Trans 333, Niger, 333 km
- 2004 & 2005, Marathon des Sables, Morocco, 250 km
- 2005 Sahara Race, Egypt, 250 km
- 2006 Gobi March, China, 250 km
- 2006 Libyan Challenge, 190 km
- 2007 Running the Sahara, 7500 km, 111 days, with Charlie Engle (USA) and Kevin Lin (Taiwan)
- 2007 three extreme coastal trails of Canada, back to back, 100, 210, 75 km
- 2008 Canada, in each province and territory, 80 km per day x 13 days.
- 2008-09 Antarctica, walked 1130 km in a speed record time of 33 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes with Richard Weber and Kevin Vallely
- 2010 Lake Baikal Siberia. Ray and Kevin Vallely departed March 1 on a speed record attempt across the lake; distance 650+ km.

#Polar #interview

The exposed ice on Lake Baikal (click to enlarge)
Image by Kevin Vallely, SOURCE
Kevin and Ray finished in good spirits with frosted solid sleeping bags, blisters and sunburn. Kevin: Nothing you can do except to deal with that. (click to enlarge)
Image by Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab, SOURCE
Ray crossing sastrugi on Antarctica (click to enlarge)
Image by Kevin Vallely
I have been living a very active lifestyle for the last 10 and it has taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined (click to enlarge)
courtesy Ray Zahab
Charlie Engle (USA), Kevin Lin (Taiwan) and Ray Zahab (Canada) here in Mali - ran 7500 km across the Sahara in 111 days (click to enlarge)
courtesy Ray Zahab
Kevin and I truly share a common goal of leaving students with the belief that they can achieve extraordinary things. Ray with kids in Niger, Africa (click to enlarge)
courtesy Ray Zahab
Inside the Lake Baikal tent on March 2 after a wind and snowstorm (click to enlarge)
Image by Kevin Vallely, SOURCE