I am aware that this post will sound like a giddy school girl at a New Kids in the Block concert. I mentioned Ray Zahab before on this blog but he is up to wonderful things so I thought I would dedicate a whole entry to him.
For those of you who don't know Ray, he's an ultra-marathoner. That means that he runs and runs and runs over totally crazy and unbelievable distances. What is most amazing, is that he wasn't always like that. In his book, Running for my life, he details his transformation from a cigarette smoker with a beer hangover to the inspiring ultra athlete he has now become. He won the first race he entered in the coldest of climates in northern Canada and ran many successful races in deserts and even in a jungle. He then hatched a plan to run the Sahara on foot with 2 of his running buddies. All 7,000km of it in 111 days. This story is told in Running the Sahara, available on DVD and I believe on iTunes. You can also see it at a special fundraising showing in Gatineau in two weeks (June 9th, 6:30pm).
After running in the extremely hot desert, he designed an expedition in the extreme cold where he crossed the south pole with 2 other people, without outside support. Not only was he succesfull but his team actually broke a speed record!
On top of being an exceptional athlete, Ray is a wonderful motivational speaker. He recounts his journey with ease and reaches into his audiences to inspire them to set their own goals and do what is necessary to achieve them. No challenge is too great. I have been fortunate enough to see him speak twice and I would go again, given another opportunity.
What I admire Ray the most for is his dedication to making life the best that it can be for everyone. He is using his notoriety to shine the spotlight on important causes around the world. He was involved in Spread the Net to protect children against Malaria, Ryan's Well to provide clean & safe drinking water to communities in Africa and most recently has started his own project, Impossible2Possible to educate and engage youths from around the world. He is even inviting youths to join him on his next expedition.
I have never met Ray but hope that he will be available after the showing for Running the Sahara so I can shake his hand.
Ray just started a twitter feed, making me very excited about being able to follow him. Join me in wishing him good luck on his newest project, crossing Baffin island.
In other local running news, it seems MDS Nordion has decided not to sponsor the Saturday events for the Ottawa Race weekend. I hope someone jumps on board with a new sponsorship. I know I would love to run the Rogers marathon (that's a challenge to Rogers, I *will* run a full marathon if you sponsor the race!). They could even get a package deal and have their sister brand Fido sponsor the 10k.