Saturday, September 1, 2012

Running the Sahara

It takes a special kind of person to decide that he wants to run across the Sahara.  Special as in crazy.  But ultrarunners are used to hearing about these kinds of challenges, and Ray Zahab and Charlie Engle are just the guys to take on the challenge of running across the continent of Africa through the Sahara Desert.  The two of them, joined by Taiwanese runner Kevin Lin, ran for 111 days, over 4,300 miles, through six countries.
Summarized in one sentence like that, the run doesn't seem like that big a deal.  Or maybe it does.  That's the dilemma of the movie.  How can a one and a half hour movie capture the scope of that kind of run?  It really doesn't, but the movie does give some hints as to what these men went through.  Imagine the issues of fatigue, injury, hydration and nutrition, that you go through in an ultramarathon.  Then multiply that times 111. I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like fun to me.  The opportunity to see a big part of the world, including some exotic and beautiful places in six countries?  Awesome!  Doing it on foot over three and a half months?  I'm not so sure. . . .

That said, these guys are impressive.  You may remember Charlie Engle, who went on to participate with Marshall Ulrich in his run across America.  (See my review of Running America.)  Ray Zahab continues his ultrarunning, having run across the Atacama Desert in Chile and preparing for a run across the Gobi Desert in  March of next year.  (Follow his exploits at

Next time you're feeling awesome that you finished that 10K or marathon, check out these guys.  They'll challenge you to do more than you ever thought you could do.

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