Christian Long

Ray Zahab: Treks to the South Pole

In TED Talks on April 19, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Reflection by ADITYA M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Ray Zahab:  Treks to the South Pole

Extreme runner Ray Zahab and a couple of his buddies acheived a great feat by breaking the world record for the fastest trek to the south pole. They took 33 days, 23 hours, and 55 minutes to do it. They shaved five days of the previous best time. They also became the first to make the 650 mile journey from Hercules’ inlet to the south pole solely on foot, without skis.

However, their journey didn’t start at Hercules’ inlet, but two years prior, when the three did a 111 day run across the Sahara desert. After the 111 days of running, he realized, while telling his wife, that if he could run across the Sahara, he could do anything he set his mind to.

Zahab was inspired by Peter Thoon, whom he met sometime after his 111 day run. Zahab learned about the water crisis in Africa during his run. Thoon was trying to find and solve water problems around the world and his dedication inspired Zahab. He was then inspired to do the trek, but with an interactive website where he could bring young people, students, and teachers from across the world on board the expedition as active members. Every single day they would blog on the website about stories about the trek. Stories like how the depleted ozone forced them to cover their faces, or they’d burn. Other stories included crossing hip level snow drifts and trekking days going up to twenty hours a day. If the young people saw how hard they worked to achieve their goal, they could realize that even for themselves, anything is possible if they persevere and set their mind to it.

Their goal was to inspire the young people that were following them, their teammates. Them wanting to inspire the young people inspired them to do their best.

What he tajes from his journey is that you can make the impossible possible. He learned this at 40. Imagine learning this at 13. How would knowing and believing this change your life? You would try your hardest at everything because you knew you could do it. That’s the message Zahab conveys through his journey. You can make the
impossible possible.

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