Kelowna teen to run across Sahara

A Kelowna teen is in for a very long run.

Connor Clerke, a grade 12 student at Kelowna Secondary School, will be joining ultra marathoner, Ray Zahab on a 200 mile trip across Tunisia as part of an awareness exhibition call Impossible2Possible.

“I heard Ray talk when he was in Kelowna last fall with Mia Farrow for the 'My Call to Action,' speech and it really made me want to be a part of this group, to help out in someway,” says Clerke.

The way Clerke will be helping is by joining Zahab, his team and five other youth ambassadors in running across Africa's Sahara desert to the Mediterranean Sea in Tunisia later this month.

“The point of the exhibition is to enable youth to reach beyond their perceived limits of physical exertion and to raise money and awareness for water projects in Africa.”

The i2P Twenty10 H2O initiative will be preceded by a challenge for schools in Canada and the U.S.A. to raise awareness and funding for water specific projects in Africa.

Funds raised in Canada will go directly to Ryan’s Well Foundation, an organization which fights for clean water in developing countries around the world. The Youth Ambassadors will communicate directly with schools from all over North America through blogs and live streaming video and will be able to facilitate interaction between students in North America and desert nomads.

Clerke says although he has a background as a student athlete, specifically long distance running, he expects to be pushed to his limits on the run.

“We will be running about 200 miles in just 10 days. Every day we will run about 20 miles. Most of the running will be done during the early morning and evenings, when the temperature is cooler. During the heat of the day, we get to take part in some cultural events. I heard we may get to do things such as having tea with some of the local nomad tribes, that sort of thing.”

He says he is excited to meet the other youth ambassadors who will be joining him on the trip.

“We've been having almost daily conference calls, getting to know each other a little bit as we talk about the preparation and training we are doing, but I'm very much looking forward to getting to meet them in person for the first time. We will all meet in Montreal before flying to Africa.”

Clerke says in terms of training, the i2P program has him on a training and diet regime designed to help him tolerate the harsh conditions he will soon be facing.

The group flies out of Canada on April 15 and will begin running on April 17 in Tozeur, Tunisia and finish on April 26 in Gabes, Tunisia.

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