Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 ! A somber ring in....

Thursday i received a call that i wish no one ever does in any capacity.
The caller informed me that one of my best friends had taken his life that morning.

To say this person was a "good" or "best" friend was an understatement. He was with me at every juncture over the past 10 years. He was with me when i started running- my very first run. He was with me training so often in the middle of the night. He was with me when i asked my wife to marry me on a distant hiking trail. He was there when i ran the the coastal trails of Canada back to back. he joined me for the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland. He was there on the other end of the phone when Kevin, Charlie and i ran across the Sahara. He was one of the first visitors when my daughter Mia Sahara was born. He was there days after Mia took her first steps. He cheered when i made it to the South Pole. He offered wisdom when i created impossible2Possible with my friends and wife. He was here for Mia's first and second birthdays...she loved him so much she called him Uncle Pat.

He was an amazing human being who truly cared more for others then himself and proved it many times. His career and philanthropic achievements are staggering. I am proud to have known such a great man, and am saddened that the world has lost a true champion of others. I am especially saddened that Mia won't know her Uncle growing up.

Pat changed many lives- and touched many people. He suffered from severe depression, but none of us ever thought things would come to this.

I am writing this to celebrate a person who was a hero to me and my family. I write this in hopes that i will appreciate everyday i have with my family and friends, and how precious life is.

Please look around you, see the people who you love and love you back, and go into 2011 living your life to the fullest with the greatest appreciation. I know i will.

I know that is what Pat would say.

Today, the first day of 2011 was somber as i attended an event in Pat's honor at the pub he owned in Perth. An amazing hotspot of live music- it was "Pat's Place"
Close friends gathered and each told stories of their experiences with this great man, this great adventurer. What is so awe inspiring is how many people pat knew- and how many cared for him. He counted among his friends Phil Fontaine, Adrienne Clarkson, and the guy down the road who pumped his gas.

A number of years ago i was in his wedding party. The varied mix of people from all walks of life and origin were in attendance...it was truly memorable.

I was happy to be there today and speak about my friend. it was very hard to hold back emotions, but relieving in some way.

Tomorrow i head for the Arctic for a project i am committed to, and will be unable to attend services this week. I learned while there that many of Pat's other friends were in the same boat. One fellow who has known Pat for 20 years was on his way back to Afghanistan, others on their way to someplace in the world.
I have a feeling Pat had a laugh about that- he was always on the go- and wouldn't think twice of showing up wherever in the world i was !!!

When i attempt to run the length of the Atacama Desert this January, i know Pat will be there in spirit with me.

I , we will all miss him.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Amazon, Atacama....Here we go !!!


Just a few more days....and the 2010 i2P Amazon Youth Expedition will begin!

The United Nations has designated 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity and has presented the world with a unique opportunity to be engaged in an effort to safeguard the variety of life on Earth, and to showcase to future generations what species are left on the planet, what species are threatened and what species are gone.

To mark the Year of Biodiversity impossible2Possible has chosen the steaming jungles of Brazil’s Amazon Basin as the backdrop for the third stage of the World Expedition Series. The Expedition Amazon adventure will see four i2P Youth Ambassadors embark on a demanding journey through the Amazon Basin to raise awareness for global biodiversity. Selected from applicants across North America, these 4 adventurers will stretch the limits of what many think is possible as they trek, run and swim through the seemingly impenetrable jungle of the Amazon on an 8-day, 170 kilometer odyssey. Accompanied by i2P adventurers, including myself (i2P founder!) and many awesome members of the i2P Team, the young explorers will be challenged to face their fears and uncertainties - becoming the leaders and decision-makers - as they navigate through one of the most mysterious places on the planet. The Youth Ambassadors -modern-day adventurers, will communicate their experiences in real-time to thousands of students in classrooms back home and around the world via a BGAN satellite communication system in a unique peer-to-peer format that demonstrates i2P’s core educational philosophy of true Experiential Learning.

This third stage of the i2P World Expedition Series follows the 2009 Baffin Island and 2010 Running Tunisia Youth Expeditions that had over 13,000 students participating from across North America. i2P has teamed with educators, scientists, and advisors to create captivating educational modules that will bring over 15,000 students alongside the expedition team as they explore one of the most unique areas on the planet.

The four i2P Youth Ambassadors will push their mental and physical limits while educating thousands of their teammates in classrooms around the world. Another cool feature..the Youth Ambassadors are spearheading a “pilot project” for the i2P Experiential Learning Program, teaming with schools to complete research projects tailored specifically for the Amazon. In addition, Expedition Amazon will raise funding for a school construction project in the heart of a protected area of rainforest in the region of Santarem called the Floresta Nacional do Tapajos (FLONA). This region is home to over 22 communities that are in desperate need of adequate educational facilities and it is the hope of impossible2Possible that Expedition Amazon will be a catalyst for providing a safe learning environment for the children of this region.

Whats Next?

Following in our tradition of pairing youth expeditions with extreme world-class expeditions i2P is announcing another epic journey to accompany the 2010 Amazon Expedition and Experiential Learning Program. In January of 2011, Kev Vallely and I will push the limits of our endurance by running the length of Chile’s 1100km “rainless” Atacama Desert. As we utilized on our 2009 South Pole Quest and 2010 Siberian Express expeditions, we will employ a fast, lightweight approach on a journey that is believed to be a unique endurance endeavor!!! We plan to run an average of more than 80kms a day (over two full-length marathons) in an attempt to cross the full length of the vast Atacama Desert in a 12-14 day push.

A Busy Fall!

Well, thats it for now! I will be on the road in between, speaking at various events about i2P and our programs. I was honored to speak at TEDx Dallas again this year, and will be speaking in Singapore and Mumbai at the Economist World in 2011 events. My topic will include the need to bring interesting and thought provoking learning opportunities into classrooms, and how we are seeing young people responding and doing amazing things everywhere as a result of these programs!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Inspiration!

I am asked all the time about what inspires me, or motivates me. The answer sometimes surprises people, but truth be told- being on an expedition where i get to share an adventure with youth adventurers who are out there with is the real deal. Seeing their faces, seeing them accomplish something so incredible- at such a young age really stokes me.
It took me till almost 30 to figure i needed to do something to change my life, took me till 35 to realize that we are ALL capable of the extraordinary. Seeing someone at 17 figure that all out is truly awesome.
I am really pumped for Amazon. I'll bring the memories of the Baffin and Tunisia youth expeditions with me.
BTW- keep your eyes peeled here. In the coming days i'll let you know what Kev Vallely and i are up to this January. A la South Pole and Siberia....its going to be wild!

Friday, July 16, 2010

i2P Visits Apple

Ray and team i2P educator extraordinaire Mark Dohn just spent 3 days in Orland for the Apple Educator conference. It was an awesome experience to get to share the i2P mission with lots of AMAZING educators- we had people sign up for our educational program on the spot! Ray was so pumped and honored to be part of the event! Check out some of the images:

If you had any doubt about Ray's passion, this picture should clear that doubt right up!

Sharing about the Tunisia Expedition

One of our schools sold Otter Pops to raise money for Ryan's Well, an organization that builds wells in Africa. Aren't our students AMAZING?!

Monday, July 05, 2010

i2P Amazon

Hey Everyone!

It's been an awesomely busy month for the i2P team. In June Ray and Bob went to Atlanta to announce the next expedition on CNN Backstory (check it out here): we're going to the Amazon!

We're looking for four young adults to join us for a 8 day, 200km trek in October. If you know an amazing young adult, encourage them to apply here (the deadline is July 18th).

We're also encouraging schools to register (for free!) for amazing educational resources about biodiversity. We already have over 3,300 students registered around the world, including the US, Canada, Kenya and India. If you know a school that would like to be involved, encourage them to register here.

The team is busy planning for the Amazon but we also have lots of other cool stuff going on- stay tuned for i2P updates!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flirtin' With Disaster !

I am asked so often what music i listen to on a run....the answer everything and it changes !!! All the time !

Today and lately i have been listening alot to 70’s rock. My tunes of choice...so many. One has really got me running. Flirtin’ With Disaster by Molly Hatchet. Crazy Southern rock band aka Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman’s. Great running tune ! And really, when have we as runners not “flirted with disaster” at some point ? I know i have !

Especially on those long runs. I remember specific moments in my running when those thoughts of “collapse in a heap” have entered my mind. Will i get there, finish or will it be the end of my run right now ? I mean...can i go on ?

If i am honest, my body may say no- but my heart says yes. So on we go- at least until these legs won’t go one-two anymore.

Just recently i had the honor of meeting some folks training for their first 5km race. Goal- finish. Result- they did.

But i couldn’t help but remember that day Charlie, Kevin and I reached the Red Sea. Tears in our eyes, fatigue in our bodies. 111 days of sand in our hair...and shorts !

i remember thinking that this felt as difficult as that first 7 km ‘real’ run i did with my buddy Pat in 03.

We all, and that is whether we are running 5 kms or 7500 kms reach a point when we think we might quit. We do flirt with that line of not going back, of continuing when our bodies say no, and our hearts say yes. Thats the magic. That what makes us put one foot in front of the other. That’s skirting disaster by a hair.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Last Day!

From Ray:

"Today is the last day of running for our Youth Ambassadors, they will finish their epic run in the Tunisian Sahara with a 12 km ceremonial finish run near the city Matmata. I will be waiting for them at the city limits with the i2P banner- totally pumped to see them complete their journey.

As with the Baffin Island expedition, these youth adventurers have inspired not only us, but thousands of students and people around the world. Kath, John, Doc, Marshall, and of course my adopted bro Bob all were here again for this Youth Expedition, and made everything work so well. The participating students and schools- thank you so-o-o much. Without you we have no expedition.

Fundraising continues for the water projects, and we will announce the results in the coming weeks. I am not saying goodbye just yet- we still have several blogs to come from Tunisia as the Youth Ambassadors visit Tunis and Matmata. Keep reading, and thank you for participating !"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Running Tunisia Day 3: Today We Ran a Marathon!

Although we all woke up feeling exhausted, stiff, sore and needing an ice bath this morning, we left camp around 7:30 am and made our way towards the town of Douz. As we continued forward, our legs began to loosen up and our pace increased. Everyone was starting to feel a little bit better and we were all very excited to reach our goal of completing a full marathon!

Today we made it into the dunes, which were incredible! The sand was lose and textured like flour, but absolutely beautiful! It felt like we stopped for photos every few steps. Our guide, Arida, decided to come with us on our run, in hjs long pants, sweater and cheche (pronounced sheesh). While running, he taught us traditional Arabic songs and games, and showed us a variety of different animal tracks including scorpion, scarab, camel and warthog. It was amazing to hear all his stories and learn more about the nomads of the Sahara!

We had another incredible lunch and after a brief nap, after a recommendation from Mohammed Ixa, who told us it was going to be too hot to run in for the next hour, we continued forward. And sure enough, the next hour was extremely warm and when we woke up, and began running, the temperature had cooled down dramatically and the heat was manageable. Over the next 17km, we came across two beautiful oasis’ filled with palm trees, lush green shrubs and even a well! The scenery here is absolutely incredible! As we got closer and closer to the 42.2km mark, we began feeling better and better. We pushed for the finish and successfully completed a marathon in the desert! We were all very happy and even happier when our support team had oranges waiting for us – Tunisian oranges are by far the best oranges in the world!!

We just finished setting up camp in the sand dunes and will likely sleep very well tonight. Talk around camp is that we might be getting an Arabic flute show later on!

Another amazing day in the Sahara Desert!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Running Tunisia Day 2

Hey everyone! Some updates from the team

Day 1

From Ray:

Today was our first full day running in the Sahara. After a long drive of about 2.5 hours, we began running in the hopes of reaching our goal of 42.2 km by the end of the day – a distance that neither Jill, Kajsa, nor Connor had ever ran in a single day before. The first 20 km was… muddy. The unbelievable lightning/rain storm the previous night had altered the land to such a degree that Jill was skating across the desert. We continued to move forward in the search of lunch – something that the youth ambassadors had been fixated on from km 15 – 20. When we finally crested the hill, we looked down upon the land cruisers and an outstretched blanket covered with sandwiches, oranges, dates, tea… and Mohammed. After our lunch break, we began on the second part of our day; however, during the hottest, most uncomfortable part of the day, we almost immediately experienced problems. Jill was experiencing dehydration as well as nutrition issues. She created a masterpiece on the side of the trail consisting of everything consumed in the past 12 hours as well as sound effects we had never heard before. We made a collective decision to take an easier pace, as it was stiflingly hot at about 33 degrees Celsius. Things were looking up, but at about 33 km, Jill decided to not only hit the wall, but take it out and allow it to fall on top of her. The day finished with a positive attitude, as we were treated to authentic Arabic music complete with sing-a-long in the land cruiser as we jostled down the road back to camp. Jill’s experience today with dehydration really helped us to appreciate the importance of drinking enough water, which has implications not only for completing the trek but makes us realize that people who do not have access to clean drinking water are at a severe disadvantage.

House from Star Wars


Also check out this video from the team and this feature on CNN

Day 2

From the Youth Ambassadors:

The day started out with a 1.5 hour drive with rockin’ Arabic/French music in Nardeen’s car to start where we finished yesterday. After a tough day yesterday, we made a collective decision to run 20 minutes, then do a fast walk for 2 minutes. Our goal was to make it back to camp, about 36 km, and everyone was feeling pretty good around lunch time, however, the heat of the day was beginning and we still had about 16 km to go. After lunch, we came across a herd of dromedaries (one-humped camels) and watched as Andy chased them around the desert in his attempt to ride one! As the heat pressed down on us, we tried to focus on hydrating properly and keeping a consistent pace while out on our own. Throughout the first two days, Kathy (Ray’s wife) had been running alongside with us and helping with pacing, but today, she deemed us ready to go out on our own and make our own decisions on proper speed for running a multi-day expedition. The heat was very hard to take the last 10 km, but we worked together to keep everyone motivated and could not have been happier when we crested the hill to overlook the camp in front of us. Back at camp, we had an interesting educational discussion with Doc Affleck about a variety of water issues as well as facts and interesting history about the theories of the origins of water. Ray had us do an experiment where we carried 12 litres of water around camp to get a feel for what it is like for children to carry water for miles on end that is necessary for their everyday life.