In January 2009, Ray Zahab broke the record for fastest unsupported trek across Antarctica, to raise awareness and money for kids' environmental education. In 2006, he ran across the Sahara to raise awareness of water shortages. (He started running 5 years ago.)

Why you should listen

Extreme runner Ray Zahab and his Impossible2Possible team make a habit of dropping jaws. A month before TED2009, he made the fastest unsupported trip to the South Pole on foot and snowshoes. Trekking in moon boots, while his partners Kevin Vallely and Richard Weber skiied alongside, Zahab liveblogged the trip for an audience of schoolchildren to raise awareness of the Antarctic environment.

He's the author of Running for My Life, a story of his metamorphosis from a pack-a-day smoker to an endurance athlete capable of such extreme feats as a 7,500 kilometer run across the Sahara. His treks are driven by an intense personal feeling for the environment; the Sahara trek, for instance, highlighted the worldwide challenge of water.

Ray is the founder of Impossible2Possible, and sits on the board of directors of the Ryan's Well Foundation and ONExONE Foundation. In September 2009, he and Impossible2Possible are planning a trek through Akshayuk Pass in Auyuittuq National Park on Canada's Baffin Island. His team includes 5 student adventurers; the entire trip will be part of an educational resource.

Ray Zahab’s TED talk