Kiki & Lala

Running the Sahara

Posted on: December 27, 2010

A few weeks ago I caught this interesting documentary called Running the Sahara. It was produced by Matt Damon and directed by James Moll. Being snowed in (again!) today, I thought I’d watch it in its entirety.  What inspiration!  It documents the journey of 3 runners who made the commitment to run the entire Sahara Dessert to raise awareness for a continent we almost always easily forget.


Charlie Engle, Expedition Leader



Ray Zahab from Canada



Kevin Lin from Taiwan

By running through this dessert they wanted to get to know the people and shed some light on the alarming lack of potable water in Africa.  What was projected to take 80 days stretched to 111 days.  In those 111 days they ran 7,300 Km (4,500 m) starting in Senegal and ending at the Red Sea just below the Suez Canal.  They ran an equivalent of 160 marathons! Here’s a trailer I found to give you an idea.


I’m pasting this video because I like the song in the background – Given to Fly by Pearl Jam

With the runners came a team of equally committed professionals – from doctors to explorers – that made sure that the runners were safe, nourished and motivated.  They ran through Christmas and New Years and in those 111 days they did not skip a day running.

Those days were not short of drama.  Egos clashed, emotions were high, friendships were tested and even safety was compromised just to achieve this lofty goal.

This whole documentary was riveting.  And you know the kind of sucker I am for break-out-of-your-comfort-zone stories like this.  What struck me most was how water, a commodity we take for granted, is so scarce and precious over there.  Before watching this movie, my idea of low water supply was that drought one summer where we found Natasha, in a dark bathroom, tirelessly filling pails of water.

This is the continent’s only access to potable water.


Well in a village in Timbuktu, Mali


While running, they found a 7 year old boy left for 2 days in the middle of the dessert to tend to the family’s cattle while his parents look for water.  I’ve been trying to find pictures or an excerpt of this part of the movie and I only found this trailer below.  At around 1:30, they will briefly feature the boy.   Imagine having to leave Kim in the middle of nowhere so you can travel for 2 days for water!

I am well aware that you do not have an endurance bone in your body but I think you will appreciate the audacity, the courage and the insanity these runners possess to make a very important statement.  Here’s to the Crazy Ones!


1 Response to "Running the Sahara"

are there any sprints for water shortage awareness?? kidding…
amazing what can be done when you have the right consciousness.

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