Ottawa, CANADA - Snow, wind, ice and sub-zero temperatures: world-record-holding adventurers Ray Zahab and Kevin Vallely will try to withstand them all during a daring attempt to run the 650-kilometre frozen length of Siberia’s Lake Baikal in 10 days or less. Beginning March 1, 2010, the two men will run 60 to 70km per day, unassisted by skis or any support crew and pulling 100-pound sleds behind them carrying food, clothing, shelter and survival gear, across the world’s deepest and most mysterious freshwater lake.
But the two Canadians are attempting more than just a record-setting and safe crossing. With Siberia still in the grips of winter, the adventurers will brave the ice of Baikal to raise awareness of the worldwide scarcity of clean water and inspire young people to push beyond their perceived limitations. The i2P expedition team will use the BGAN satellite communication device provided by Stratos Global to blog, post photos, upload videos, and even stream live video conferencing into classrooms across North America, providing a unique learning experience to upwards of 8,000 students. During the expedition, students will be able to see, speak to, and hear the pair in real-time, all the while learning about clean drinking water issues around the world. People around the world can also be part of the experience by logging on to www.SiberianX.com.
The Siberian Express journey is the latest expedition for impossible2Possible, a non-profit organization founded by Zahab that uses adventure as a platform to educate, inspire, and empower tomorrow’s leaders. Lake Baikal contains about 20 per cent of the world’s surface fresh water and is the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume. It’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and by running across the ice-covered surface of one of the earth’s most treasured and fragile lakes, Zahab and Vallely hope to teach students about the history, chemistry, biology, culture, and the central role clean drinking water has played in all cultures and civilizations.
In 2007, Ray and two others ran for 111 consecutive days across the scorching Sahara - a run of 7,500 kilometres that was turned into a Matt Damon-produced documentary titled “Running The Sahara.” The journey opened Zahab’s eyes to the problems faced by those without access to clean drinking water. Having already run across the world’s largest desert and, in January 2009, having made the fastest unsupported trek to the South Pole, crossing this majestic beauty seemed like a logical next step in his efforts to raise awareness for social and environmental issues around the world.
Beyond the classroom, Zahab and Vallely will use the impossible2Possible website to bring their message to people around the globe and raise money for clean drinking water projects. Participating schools have been challenged to organize fundraisers and help complete 2 clean drinking water projects in Africa through Ryan’s Well Foundation and GivingWater.org.
They will also teach youth that anything is possible. Less than 10 years ago Zahab was a pack-a-day smoker living a sedentary lifestyle. Now an accomplished adventurer and ultra-marathoner, he says his life philosophy is that we are all capable of the extraordinary in our own lives.
“I truly believe that we as humans can do anything we set our minds to. That’s what I want today’s youth to believe. Through hard work and dedication anything is possible,” says Zahab.
The Siberian Express For Water is the first leg of the impossible2Possible Twenty10 H2O Initiative. In mid-April the second stage of the i2P World Expedition Series will take place in the North African country of Tunisia. This expedition will see a select group of i2P Youth Ambassadors run and trek across 200 miles of this incredibly diverse landscape over a span of 10 days. This journey through the northern Sahara where clean drinking water can be a scarce commodity will contrast the abundance found in Lake Baikal.
impossible2Possible(i2P) is a 501c3 U.S. Non-profit and currently awaiting approval for Canadian Charitable status. i2P’s mission is to enable youth to reach beyond their perceived limits, and to use adventure as a platform to educate, inspire and empower our global community to make positive change.
Siberian Express For Water sponsors:
Gatorade, Iridium, Apple, Nathan, Kahtoola, Canada Goose and Stratos Global.