By Ray Zahab
When Charlie, Kevin and I reached the edge of the Sahara at the Red Sea after running 111 days and 7500km across the Sahara, I knew a change had happened. For me, running came to me later in life than one might have expect, but it has become my greatest teacher.
While running had already taken me to ultra-marathons all over the world, introducing me to many cultures and experiences, we all learned a great deal running across Africa. In fact, I took a greater appreciation for the life I have in Canada, especially clean water. On our Trans-Saharan run, I also learned that we are all capable of doing extraordinary things in our lives-something that was lost on me.
Based on the lessons I had learned while running in the Sahara, I decided that I wanted to find a way to provide young people with a free platform to experience their own incredible adventures. Adventures which they would undoubtedly learn a great deal about themselves and their own amazing capabilities, yet ones that would also empower them to share what they were learning with other young people in classrooms all over the world. Youth inspiring their peers to make a difference. That was 2007, and Impossible2Possible (i2P) continues to take young adventurers on their own expeditions all over the world.
Running is not only a great teacher, but a fantastic vehicle for change. So many great events, so many great organizations now exist that utilize running to not only inspire and educate, like i2P, but to fundraise, create awareness and enact change. With such diverse events as the Canada Army Run, Sears Great Canadian Run, Run For Water and Wings For Life World Run, the range of combining running and a cause is not only becoming increasingly popular, it’s also effective!
Although fundraising through organized event is not entirely a new concept, it has become increasingly popular as more individuals combine their race participation with a cause that can make a real difference. Each year in Abbotsford BC, I join a group of ultra-runners who are fundraising for clean water projects in Africa. We get together as part of the Run for Water race weekend attended by thousands of runners with donations supporting clean water initiatives.And technology has also had an impact on caused-based running events. For the Wings For Life World Run (#WorldRun) which is taking place on May 4th, 2014 in Saskatoon, runners will simultaneously start with their counterparts on 35 courses around the world. This global event also features an innovative format along with a mobile finish line that will chase down runners via a catcher car.
Whatever reason you’re running for, getting started and taking those first steps can truly make impact on both you and the lives of many others.
Runner, adventurer and motivational speaker, Ray Zahab volunteers with Impossible2Possible, an organization that inspires and organizes youth to help protect the planet and the people on it. Twitter: @RayZahab, @GoI2P