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Atacama Desert Run update: Ray Zahab finished with an 87 km day

Posted: Feb 13, 2011 07:35 pm EST

(By Correne Coetzer) (Updated Feb 16, 2011 10:10 am EST) With an extra long last day attempt on February 12, Ray finished his Atacama Desert run from the north to the south of the desert in 20 days, several hours. The total distance logged on his tracker is 1191.2 km [Ed note: correction not 1145.85 km (712.00 miles) as previously reported].

Ray ran most of the way alone after his teammate Kevin Vallely had to withdraw just before they started.

Day 18 and 19 video report:

Reporting from a stopping point from ancient Inca times, Ray described the desert area with mountains as breathtaking. Most of Day 19 he and a support team member ran on a road between mines.

Javier and Bob talked about the biodiversity of the desert as they came across a plant that can be used for tea and medicine. They also came across a monument that celebrates the Inca Trail and Chasquis messengers.

Day 20: An exhausted, but happy Ray did it. After he finished, Ray and the support team drove back to Santiago.

Distances: 60 km (Day 18), 64 km, 87 km

Last Progress

Jan 23 2:54 pm to Feb 12 10:54 am

Date (local): Feb 12, 2010 10:54 am
Distance: 1,145.85 km (712.00 mi)
Trip duration: 20 days, 2 hr, 59 min
Position: 27.395546S, 070.25927W

Taking inspiration from the legendary ultra-running athletes called Chasquis, modern-day adventurer Ray Zahab will test himself on the trails of these highly trained athletes as he traverses the length of Chiles Atacama Desert. He will be carrying a 12kg (25lb) backpack with all his gear/clothing/stove/tent to survive, and food and water (8-10 liters) for one day. Water/food drops will be available when a community or water source is not in the route. He will have a GPS, topo map and compass and hopefully find the water.

The plan is to run between 80-90 km per day for as many days as it takes to cover the approx.1,250 km (1,000 km as the crow flies). His start point at the Northern tip of the Atacama Desert is at Lago Chungara.

Following the recently completed impossible2Possible Youth Expedition to the Amazon in October 2010, Ray Zahab will be visiting a contrasting area of the Earth. The Atacama Desert will provide a great point of contrast on the topic of biodiversity which he will share with thousands of school children. Ray will carry a Solara tracking device from start to finish, and will be updating a live website www.atacamaextreme.com and communicating with classrooms via video conferencing software, a Macbook and BGAN.

Ray Zahab was born in Ottawa, Canada on February 11, 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
In the 2008-09 Antarctic season Canadians Richard Weber, Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab set the fastest time for a team from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole (1130 km) in 33 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes.

March 14, 2010 Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab completed their speed record expedition across Lake Baikal in a time of 13 days and 16 hours; running/walking the 640 km (as the crow flies) in an average distance of 50 km a day with special screw in spikes shoes. They started from the small village of Kultuk on the southern side of the lake and finished at northern tip at a community called Nizhneangarsk


An exhausted, but happy Ray did it.
courtesy Atacama Extreme i2P 2011, SOURCE
A support team member running with Ray on Day 19.
courtesy Atacama Extreme i2P 2011, SOURCE
Ray: "Breathtaking scenery."
courtesy Atacama Extreme i2P 2011, SOURCE
"Looking south towards Inca de Oro."
courtesy Atacama Extreme i2P 2011, SOURCE
The support team taking a lunch break and washing clothes.
courtesy Atacama Extreme i2P 2011, SOURCE