Training For Ultra's Training Diaries - Issue #12


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Guest: Ray Zahab

Episode Title: Ray Zahab on Challenge, Distance and Discovery

Sponsors: Canada Goose, Network Innovations, Osprey, DJO, Garmin, Canadian North, EXPED, Baffin, solefit, Continuum Fitness & Movement Performance, Trail Toes, Strongbars Nutrition, Felt, Compex, Woven, Dion Snowshoes, KineMedics, Les Saisons Café, X:act Nutrition, xczone,tv, Westboro Chiropractic Clinic, and Apple. 

Bio: Ray Zahab is a professional explorer, ultrarunner, author, inspirational speaker, father, and coffee enthusiast from Canada. Most people know Ray as one of the three men to run across the Sahara Desert. This 111-day journey has been preserved in the annals of history by the documentary “Running the Sahara.” In the early 2000s Ray, dissatisfied with life, made a drastic life change, and quit smoking along with other unhealthy habits and took up extreme adventuring; he started doing everything from ice climbing to mountain biking. This new lifestyle change has led him on some amazing adventures to some of the most extreme places on earth. If you ever wanted to know what frostbitten eyelids feel like - Ray is the man to ask! Most importantly, though, these expeditions have given Ray a happiness and confidence that he never thought was possible. Ray seeks to learn something about the world and himself from every single adventure and he shares this knowledge with kids through his non-profit Impossible2Possible. This non-profit not only provides unique and enriching content for school curriculums, but also takes kids on free expeditions all over the world. On these trips kids get the opportunity to learn about the world and the people around them in a life-changing way. Ray also runs a guiding business and by the time you are reading this he will likely be on an expedition in the Arctic! 

Quotes from podcast episode:

“It became abundantly clear to me that through adventure and through storytelling we could learn so much and it becomes an experiential learning model. When you’re out there doing something and then you’re able to share it after, or even share it, in real time that can be really potent for young people.” - 7:48 Ray Zahab

“To win something physical like the Yukon Arctic... I just could not believe that I did it. I was the first one to cross the finish line… It felt awesome.” - 10:03 Ray Zahab

“I spent more time in the Sahara on my feet than I had, I calculated, pretty much in my entire life. It was that far.” - 11:24 Ray Zahab

“At about the halfway point it became so much more about other things than just getting to the Red Sea and by the time we were done we had learned about culture, we had learned about agriculture, economics, we had learned about the water crisis, we had learned about biodiversity. All of these things because we were on an adventure and it shifted in my mind what adventure and exploration could mean and what doing these things with meaning could be.” - 11:48 Ray Zahab

“You can do anything, I mean you really can, if you just really bare down you can do things that you don’t think you can do.” - 17:00 Ray Zahab

“In life if you can find something that you are truly passionate about that makes you happy, like I mean genuinely happy, you’re doing something that really makes you happy, you can look in the mirror and be honest and… be “yeah I am really happy doing this,” you won the lottery. That is such a huge thing.” - 18:13 Ray Zahab

“In a relative way every one of us has that ability to feel like they have done something extraordinary.” - 20:54 Ray Zahab

“We have a lot more in common with human beings on this planet than I think we realize sometimes.” - 24:42 Ray Zahab

“Some of these places where we go it is so cold that plastic, of any kind, just shatters.” - 47:28 Ray Zahab

“I went into that water and I remember thinking to myself, “Oh my god I am gonna die, I am never going to see my kids again, you know, family is everything and that is all I was thinking… How did I let this happen?” - 50:44 Ray Zahab

“There's been many hard on these expeditions, but it is the hard days in anything that we do that make the nice days, the good days, seem even more awesome.” - 56:01 Ray Zahab

“Art, to me, is the greatest expression of being a human... you look back through thousands of years of history and what is left? It’s art, that’s what left, that is what tells the story of being human.” - 58:12 Ray Zahab

Episode Timeline:

1:15 Time perception and getting older

3:15 Ray’s first ultra

5:45 Ray’s interview experience

9:19 When did exploring go from self-exploration to exploring to inspire

12:25 Founding Impossible2Possible

20:20 Sense of accomplishment is relative

23:40 What is it like running across continents 

24:40 People are more alike than they think

28:00 Running through the desert

33:00 Exploring the history of inaccessible places

35:30 Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples

36:00 Upcoming Arctic expedition

37:30 Best media for inspiring others and the challenges of filming endurance experiences 

48:10 Scariest running experience

54:50 “What would you tell a youth ambassador?”

57:40 Art as human expression

1:03:35 What excites Ray about ultrarunning today

1:07:00 How COVID has changed the marathon scene

1:12:40 Commitment is a process

Social Media:

Facebook: Ray Zahab | Facebook Twitter: Ray Zahab (@RayZahab) / Twitter Instagram: RAY ZAHAB (@rayzahab) • Instagram photos and videos Website: Ray Zahab - Challenge . Distance . Discovery


Big thank you to the podcast supporters!

John Wayne Cancer Foundation - Run the GRIT Series

Tanri Outdoors - All Natural Sun Protection for Runners (use “ULTRA10” for 10% off)

XoSkin (use “T4U20” for 15% off)

Thank you Patreon supporters!