South Pole Quest – Ray Zahab
On January 7, 2009, Canadian ultra-runner Ray Zahab, legendary arctic explorer Richard Weber (more than 60 completed Arctic, North and South Pole expeditions), and elite adventurer Kevin Vallely reached the South Pole, unsupported.
Ray Zahab traveled the whole distance on foot in moon boots; his teammates accompanied him on skies.
The team set a new record of 33 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes, breaking the previous record (39 days, 7 hours and 49 minutes) set by American Todd Carmichael on December 21, 2008! Todd also did it solo, unsupported, on skis until he ditched them on day 9 because of trouble with his bindings.
Previous records all have been set on skies.
The mostly uphill trek covered a distance of 680 miles (1094 kilometers) from sea level to approximately 10,000 feet. They made days of 10-20 hours pulling sleds weighing close to 200 pounds, in temperatures of less than -40 degrees Celcius.
The last week was the most challenging, described Kevin:
“A whiteout (dense blizzard) so complete and all-consuming in its bleakness that Ray equated it to having a cloud wrapped around his head. Richard tried to navigate through the soup with eyes glued to his compass and every muscle straining to avoid falling over. “
Their 7,000-calorie-a-day diet consisted of pemmican, Gatorade drink, salami, bacon, cheese and butter.
The South Pole, viewed by scientists as a key part of the earth’s thermostatic regulation system, is undergoing changes that threaten to destroy the earth’s fragile balance, impacting human communities around the globe.
To raise awareness of the Antarctic environment and money for kids’ environmental education, the adventurers shared their South Pole Quest with schoolchildren.
During their trip they supported research, educated the kids with daily free downloadable modules, and challenged them to achieve their own Extraordinary Acts.
Ray founded Impossible2Possible to make his expeditions more educational after running through the Sahara Desert, where he learned that the water crisis affected young people the most.
He wanted to educate kids about the environment and make them realize that they have the ability to achieve and exceed any perceived limits they think they may have, and that they hold the keys to contributing in making the world a better place, for themselves and their peers.
Ray wrote about his own transformation froma pack-a-day smoker with a sedentary lifestyle to ultrarunner and fulltime adventurer in his book Running for My Life.
With his expeditions he inspires not only youth but all generations.
Image by skeeze