Atacama Extreme: Running Solo

Jan 21, 2011
Outside Magazine

Untitled from Outside Magazine on Vimeo.

Ray and I received some very disheartening news the day before leaving for Chile. Kevin Vallely, Ray’s expedition brother—from the expedition to the South Pole in 2009 and the journey across Lake Baikal in 2010—informed us he wouldn’t be able to make the trip due to recent developments with his father’s health.  Ray and I, along with the entire i2P community, want Kevin and his family to know that he is in our thoughts and we are all hopeful that things will turn for the better over the next few days and weeks.

Upon receiving the news Ray and I were forced to analyze the situation in front of us. We were one day away from a 600-700 mile running expedition across the driest desert on the planet and our options were few. Ray's water bottles..                                                     Ray's Water Bottles

One option, maybe our only option, is that Ray is going to have to do it solo. My role shifts a bit from logistics, school communications, and desert traveler (via truck!) to logistics, school communications, and part-time runner to keep him company every once in a while.  I will not be carrying all of my supplies—sleeping bag, stove, tent, food, sat phone, etc..—as Ray is doing. I will be carrying exactly enough Gatorade hydration and nutrition to get me through the day.

The start!                                                     The start!
After all the training, logistics meetings with our Chilean team members, coordinating scouting missions so we don’t get hopelessly lost in the desert, scouring topography maps and Google earth, working with our corporate expedition partners like Gatorade, Canada Goose, Stratos Global and a host of others, packing and re-packing gear, weighing bags, communicating with i2P team members and education coordinators, and all the while working on the upcoming spring 2011 i2P Youth Ambassador Expedition to Jordan the time has arrived. Ray is set to begin Saturday morning.  He is looking forward to sharing the experience and contrasting story of biodiversity in the driest desert on the planet with all of the students that followed along throughout the Youth Ambassador Amazon expedition.  Students will see a much different setting from the landscape seen just a few months ago.

Photos and more blogs to follow!

--Bob Cox and Ray Zahab will be sending daily updates as Ray runs roughly 40 miles a day for 16 days across one of the driest places on earth, the Atacama Desert. For more on their journey, check out


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