nehst_logo Running the Sahara
Faced with an epic challenge, three runners have put their lives on the line to make a difference. They crossed the Sahara to tell the world the story of its people. Here are their stories, along with those of the people who have made this possible:

Image: Charlie Engle
Charlie Engle, USA
Expedition Team Leader / Expedition Originator
A 42-year-old American father of two boys, a television producer, and one of the best ultra distance marathon runners in the world today, Engle has been a runner, climber, and adventure racer for more than 30 years. He recently finished first in both a race across the Gobi Desert and in a seven-day race through the Amazon jungle. He has crossed the Atacama Desert in Chile, charted the jungles of Vietnam and Borneo, climbed to the top of the volcanoes in Ecuador, summited Mt. McKinley, and has run across Death Valley. He sees running the Sahara as a personal quest to find fulfillment through both physical and mental challenges, believing that it will be an unparalleled journey of discovery.

Read Charlie's Blog >>

Image: Ray Zahab
Ray Zahab, Canada
Late in 1998, Ray made a life changing decision to leave a pack-a-day smoking habit and very unhealthy life choices behind him. On New Year's Day 2000, he decided to go hiking with his brother John and has never looked back.

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.

After witnessing and experiencing the water crisis and malaria epidemic in Africa, Ray decided to dedicate his future adventures to raising awareness and funding for causes that he supports and believes in..Ray is a member of the board of Directors of the Ryan's Well Foundation, is the official Athletic Ambassador to the ONExONE organization, and is a representative of SpreadTheNet and the founder of Impossible2Possible. On January 7, 2009 Ray and two other Canadians, broke the world speed record from Hercules Inlet to the Geographic South Pole. In the process, Ray became the first person to trek to the South Pole on this traditional 1130 km route solely on foot. This expedition provided young people with an interactive platform and educational resources through a ground-breaking website.

Visit Ray's Personal Website >>

Image: Kevin Lin
Kevin Lin, Taiwan
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. He believes that learning and positive changes are the result of suffering, as suffering only makes one a stronger and better person.

Visit Kevin's Personal Website >>

Image: Dr. Jeff Peterson
Dr. Jeff Peterson
Jeff Peterson, MA/MD is an Assistant Professor of Surgery/Emergency Medicine at Stanford University Hospital in Stanford, California. He is also the Founder and Sports Medicine Physician at Innovative Sports Medicine in Mountain View, California, and is a Medical Specialist Instructor of Urban Search and Rescue for the State of California Office of Emergency Services, as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In 2006 he served as a Race Physician for endurance races in the Atacama desert of Chile and the Gobi desert in China. An avid triathlete, he has completed 2 Ironman triathlons and numerous Alcatraz triathlons. He received his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.A. and M.D. from the Boston University School of Medicine. He completed a Surgical Internship, Emergency Medicine Residency, and Sports Medicine Fellowship at Stanford University Hospital. He also completed a Cardiovascular / Emergency Medicine Research Fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Image: Donovan Webster
Donovan Webster
Donovan Webster (co-leader for "Running the Sahara" expedition) is a journalist, author, and explorer who has been fortunate enough to lead or be part of dozens of expeditions in the past 20 years. The experiences and/or findings from these trips have turned-up in numerous American magazines (Vanity Fair, Smithsonian, Outside) or in books, though overwhelmingly they have been published in National Geographic. When not traveling, he lives with his family outside Charlottesville, Virginia.

Image: Chuck Dale
Chuck Dale
A massage therapist and personal trainer, Dale has been a competitive athlete for over 25 years. He began competing in marathons and triathlons three years ago and quickly moved into ultra-marathons. He's crewed two years for American ultramarathoner Charlie Engle in the Bad Water Ultramarathon.

Dale brings experience and discipline learned from 11 years in the Air Force and the Riverside, California Sheriff's Office to all his athletic endeavors. When he isn't pushing his body to the limits running and biking, he enjoys rolling on the mats in competitive grappling and jujitsu. He and his wife are raising their two children in Arkansas and are planning a Reasons to Run, Reasons to Ride run and bike event across the United States for 2008.

Image: Mohamed Ixa
Mohamed Ixa
Mohamed Ixa (co-leader for "Running the Sahara" expedition) was born in the sands of the Sahara, and is considered to be among the handful of respected Tuareg leaders in the region. He and his company Tidene Expeditions are recognized worldwide as the top desert guides in North Africa for both recreational and commercial clients. For more information, contact Tidene at

Image: Omar Turbi
Omar Turbi
Expert on Libya
Born in Derna, Libya, his family traces its roots over 1,300 years to a little-known town of Turba in the heart of the Arab peninsula, known today as The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Credited with the recent reestablishment of relations between the United States and Libya, he is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on U.S.-Libya relations. He has always worked passionately to build bridges between cultures. He has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on U.S.-Libya Relations on more than one occasion, and is a frequent commentator on CNN, Al-Jazeera, and other networks on U.S. foreign policy in the region.

Omar is the President & CEO of Orbit Systems, Inc., a semiconductor and aviation company based in California.

At the invitation of the producers of Running the Sahara, Omar recently joined the project at the Libya-Niger border. "I am extremely excited about joining the expedition, and the three runners whom I have the most admiration for. It is an opportunity of a lifetime for me to explore my motherland with the Running the Sahara team and my son Omar Jr., as well as showcase Libya's historical treasures along the way," Omar said. For more on Omar Turbi, please visit

  Map: Northern Africa. Track the Journey
Products and Pre-sales
Running the Sahara DVD
Click here to purchase the DVD of Running the Sahara.

Screenings and Events
Running the Sahara
Nehst will be holding theatrical event screenings for Running the Sahara at which you can meet the runners, Director James Moll or Producers Matt Damon, Larry Tanz, Keith Quinn or Jim Van Eerden. Click here to see the current schedule.

People and Places
Image: camels walking across the desert
Discover the vibrant cultures of the Sahara from Senegal to the Suez with maps, photos, music, and more.

Magellan Navigation
Logo: Magellan
The expedition team and the athletes rely on a number of Magellan Navigation devices in the field to guide their run.

Image: Toyota logo
Toyota high-tech SUVs transport the expedition and film crews over mountainous sand dunes and uncharted terrain.

Champion Athletic Apparel
Logo: Champion
Champion is the official apparel sponsor of Running the Sahara, providing apparel for the athletes and expedition crew.