i2P Announces Expreso De Los Andes 2012 Expedition

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The crew over at impossible2Possible are gearing up for another expedition, this time turning their sights back to South America and the Andes Mountains. This morning, they launched a new website to share all of the details of their Expreso De Los Andes 2012 expedition, and as always with i2P, the mission goes well beyond just an adventure in the wild.

Starting February 18, Ray Zahab and Kevin Vallely will set out on foot from the city of Concón, which sits along Chile’s Pacific Coast. They’ll begin heading east and won’t stop until they reach Buenos Aires, on the Atlantic Coast of Argentina. The 1700km (1056 mile) run will traverse the South American continent and include a very challenging crossing of the Andes Mountains along the way.

The plan is for Ray and Kevin to start out averaging about 70km (43.4 miles) per day, even into (and over!) the Andes, and then increasing the pace to 100km (62.1 miles) once they have put the mountains behind them. A support crew will place resupply caches about ever 20-30km as well, keep the runners will stocked with food, water, and gear along the way. Those are some very impressive numbers when you consider that much of the journey will be conducted on mountain roads and trails, and sometimes over open terrain as well. But both of these men are experienced ultra-runners who have faced similar daunting situations in the past.

If you’re familiar with i2P, than you already know that the organization always manages to weave an educational element into each of their programs. On previous expeditions to India, Bolivia, the Antarctic, and a host of other destinations, the members of the team have always interacted with students in classrooms in a variety of locations, looking to inspire them through adventure, while also educating them about some of the more pressing issues of the day. The Expreso De Los Andes expedition will be no different, although it has a few new elements to the formula as well.

This time out, the i2P team is focused on health and physical activity, and they’re looking to inspire not only the students, but teachers and administrators as well. To help in that cause, they’ve enlisted school principal George Singfield, who is transforming his life from one that is lacking in on the sedentary side, to one that is much more physically active. “Principal George” has worked with Ray to develop a training program, and while the guys are busy running across South America, he’ll be preparing for the Ottawa Half-Marathon, which takes place at the end of May. George, who also suffers from diabetes, also has his sights set on a 50km trail run event in the fall as well.

The teachers and students in George’s three schools are also being challenges as well, and the i2P staff has created some very basic conditioning and running programs for them to undertake too. The hope is that by following Ray and Kevin on their adventure, and watching their Principal reshape his life, that others will be inspired to do the same. The program is open for other schools to join in as well, and a special Student Challenge section has been created on the website that will allow everyone to get in on the fun and share their own experiences as well.

I’m always amazed at how ambitious the i2P projects are. They are such a great blend of education and adventure, and I love that Ray and the team have found a way to inspire young people in this way. This looks like it’ll be another great example of that, and I can’t wait to follow along with the daily updates, blog reports, and videos from the field in February.

Kraig Becker