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Running the Sahara

July 16, 2009

30.   Watch 101 new movies (17/101) (more info)

While flipping channels today and I came across Running the Sahara (2008),  a documentary feature film that chronicles the incredible true story of Ray Zahab, Charlie Engle, and Kevin Lin who attempted to run across the entire Sahara desert. They traveled a total of 6920 kilometers reaching the Red Sea on February 20 2007.

The film is an up-close, character-driven documentary that delves deep into the culture of the Sahara through the eyes of three individuals undergoing a life-altering experience. Along with the runners, we cross six countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Egypt. Through the eyes of our runners, we come to understand the realities of Africa – the beauty and the tragedy inherent in everyday life. This reality is underscored by the recurring theme of water – a daily necessity for our runners and a daily struggle for many of the people they encounter. The cast encountered many locals who spend two and half hours per day, every day, finding and cleaning their water for that day. Sprawling over 3.5 million square miles, the Sahara is a mystical land, enchanting for its extreme beauty and its complex culture.

Most of the magic comes from the runners. Charlie Engle was the 42 year old team leader. Engle has been a runner, climber, and adventure racer for more than 30 years. Ray Zahab made a life changing decision late in 1998 to leave a pack-a-day smoking habit and very unhealthy life choices behind him. New to the sport of running in 2004, ultra-marathoning took Ray from the cold north of Canada to the Amazon jungle. But it was the Sahara desert that ultimately captured Ray’s heart. And last but not least, Kevin Lin. 28 years old and living like a rock star in Taipei, Taiwan, Kevin is one of the most well known endurance athletes in all of Asia. A full-time graduate student, he recently won the first ever 150-mile (241-kilometer) race across the Atacama Desert in Chile, dancing across the finish line while more than half the field had to be rescued from the course.

It was a beautiful and inspiring movie that I would recommend if you’re interesting in either endurance running or the Sahara.

I learned that any limitation we have are ones that we set upon ourselves. If you think you can only run 5 or 10K, you’ll only run 5 or 10K. It’s where you set those goals. Really there are no boundries. I’m proof of that.

– Ray Zahab

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chère permalink
    July 16, 2009 4:00 pm

    This looks AMAZING! I’m a sucker for a good documentary. I’m not a runner (I think the most I’ve ever run at one time is 1 mile), but the sociology angle is really intriguing…I’ll have to Netflix it!

    • taraSG permalink
      July 16, 2009 4:24 pm

      It really was an amazing story even if you aren’t into running. The people they met and the countries themselves were beautiful.

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