Inspirational Ultra-Marathon Runner and Explorer
Ray Zahab wants people to know they are extraordinary. A former sedentary “pack a day smoker”, Zahab turned his life around in 1999 when he decided to get in shape and enter the world of ultra-marathons. Since then, he’s gone on to inspire millions of people around the world by completing jaw-dropping journeys, including running 7500 km across the Sahara, setting a Guinness World Record, and travelling close to 20,000 km on foot through some of the largest deserts and the coldest regions on Earth.
Zahab is the founder of the non-profit impossible2Possible (i2P), which uses adventure-based learning programs to inspire, empower, and, most importantly, educate young people on a wide range of subjects. He also hosts cost-free expeditions for youth. On stage, Zahab takes audiences through his tremendous personal story, demonstrating how individuals and organizations can undergo incredible change to break through limits and achieve incredible success.
In 2003, Zahab read about the Yukon Arctic Ultra, a 160 km multi-day race through sub-zero conditions. Three months later, he won the race and was spurred on to continue competing and learning about how every one of us is capable of exceeding any mental, physical, or emotional limits we think we may have. Over the next two years, he won four multi-day races, either individually or as part of a team, surviving sandstorms, close encounters with poisonous snakes, parasites, infections, chafed legs, and dehydration along the way.
Entranced by the Sahara, Zahab decided to cross the whole thing. The gruelling 111-day journey happened in early 2007, chronicled in the Matt Damon-produced documentary Running the Sahara. Upon completing the expedition, Zahab was moved to found impossible2Possible, inspired by the realization that we are all capable of the extraordinary. Today, he uses his adventures to raise awareness and funding for important causes, and has completed dozens of expeditions across the Arctic, Siberia, Gobi Desert, and Death Valley, to name a few
In between his many adventures, Zahab has also found time to write two books, Running for My Life and Running to Extremes. As a speaker, Zahab has spoken at events such as TED, IOC World Conference, The Economist World, World Affairs Council, and corporate events all over the globe.
A recent recipient of the Meritorious Service Cross of Canada, Zahab is an Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Fellow of the Canadian Geographical Society. In 2015, Canadian Geographic recognized Zahab as one of Canada’s Top Explorers. His content has appeared on a wide range of platforms, from his own hosted TV series to appearances on Discovery, CNN, CBC, OWN, and many others.