Event Detail

11
Nov
2008

The Extremes

Ray Zahab
Tuesday, 11 Nov 2008

THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY HONG KONG

presents

"Running the Sahara: Challenge, Distance, Discovery"

by

Ray Zahab
on

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

2/F Olympic House, So Kong Po, Causeway Bay
Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm

Please note that this lecture is most generously sponsored by Grand Marnier and there are to be complimentary drinks receptions with snacks both before and after the lecture

We are delighted to welcome Canadian adventure runner and philanthropist Ray Zahab to lecture on "Challenge, Distance, Discovery", his 7 year journey from a sedentary lifestyle to running in some of the most unforgiving places on the planet. His principal topic is to be his legendary run across the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, where he combined exploration and philanthropy with unequalled sporting achievement. His run across the Sahara was filmed by Matt Damon, and is now the popular documentary Running the Sahara. Known as an entertaining and inspiring speaker, the lecture includes feats from the Arctic to the Sahara, including extraordinary photographs and images from Mr. Zahab's races and expeditions.

New to the sport of running in 2004, ultramarathoning initially took Mr. Zahab from the cold north of Canada to the Amazon jungle. But it was the Sahara desert that ultimately captured Mr. Zahab's heart. After racing 200 miles across Niger, Egypt and Libya, the idea was born to cross the entire Sahara on foot out of a love for the terrain and its people, especially the Tuareg. Already winner of some of the world's most difficult and challenging ultradistance foot races, Mr. Zahab was motivated by challenge, distance and discovery.

On 1 November 2006, Mr. Zahab and two other runners set out on their epic expedition to cross the Sahara on foot. One hundred and eleven days after leaving the coast of Senegal they made history by dipping their toes into the Red Sea and raising the bar on all that was considered possible. The epic expedition had the trio running an average of 4050 miles a day, without a single day of rest, raising awareness for cleanwater initiatives in Africa. This feat consisted of 111 consecutive days of running in extreme desert conditions through six countries, totalling 4,300 miles. As much an expedition as a race, the prepping, planning and implementation of an adventure such as this is included in the lecture, as well as the uniqueness of the people of the Sahara and the runners' interaction with them.

Mr. Zahab speaks evocatively of the expedition, with its highs and lows, camaraderie and solitude, and encounters with both the natural wonders and teeming societies of Africa. Whether it was encounters with the Tuaregs of Niger, running through the wondrous Pyramids of Giza, the children that ran alongside them in every country, the stunning natural beauty, the harshest living conditions, the solitude of the Tenere Desert, the bustling heat of Dakar or the overwhelming crush of Cairo, every location along the way provided its own challenge and held a unique reward for the three explorers and their team.

After witnessing and experiencing the water crisis and malaria epidemic in Africa, Mr. Zahab decided to devote his future adventures to raising awareness and funding for youth based and climate change causes. Mr. Zahab is a member of the board of Directors of the Ryan's Well Foundation, is the official Athletic Ambassador and board member of the ONExONE Foundation among many other positions. Most recently, Mr. Zahab has been focusing on issues from desertification and the expanding malaria belt to the loss of Inuit hunting grounds in Canada's north, the impact of which is felt around the world.

Mr Zahab resides in Chelsea, Quebec with his family. Now in worldwide demand as a speaker, Mr Zahab splits his time between running, speaking and environmental protection. Always an adventurer, in midNovember 2008, Richard Weber and Mr. Zahab plan to run and trek over 1,000 km to the geographic South Pole. This expedition will be unsupported and they will be dragging everything they need to survive for the month they plan to be on Antarctica. In 2009, they plan to run and trek 35 kms per day from Ward Hunt Island to the North Pole, to bring awareness and funding to find and provide solutions to the social impact of climate change; over 10 major media organisations have already agreed to follow the expedition. Mr. Zahab speaks worldwide to some 100 audiences a year, most recently including PowerWithin, Johnson and Johnson and Pepsi. Mr. Zahab was the recipient of the ONExONE Difference Award in 2007, together with Sarah, Duchess of York and Richard Gere.

Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$100 for Members and HK$150 for guests and others.

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