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Running the Sahara: A True Story of Inspiration

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Wow- this movie, Running the Sahara, has left me breathless. I know I am a reporter and therefore must be objective, but I also have a lot of heart and emotion, and meeting the man who was 1/3 of the team of ultra-marathoners who actually ran across the Sahara Desert has taken my breath away. Running the Sahara

Recently, residents and visitors of Philadelphia were invited to a one-night-only premiere of Running the Sahara at the Ritz at the Bourse. This special screening was presented by NEHST Studios, and was the first Nehst Out Experience in the City of Brotherly Love. The movie admission included a swag bag with a DVD copy of the movie and a post-screening Q&A with Charlie Engle, one of the film’s stars. “We want to provide an experience to the public that they may not normally have access to,” said Larry Meistrich. “Nehst Out is designed to have the feel of a film festival screening with an engaging social component.” Runners from “Students Run Philly Style” also came out to support the movie, and were enthusiastically asking Charlie questions during the Q&A session.

“The crazy idea first came to my teammate Ray while in the Amazon, and it all came together,” says Charlie Engle, who hails from Greensboro, North Carolina. “I woke up one day and realized, I have committed to this run! I have to do this! When we finally decided to do it, it was such an organic experience. The producers and crew stayed together, and me, Ray, Kev, our guide Mohamed Ixa and our doctor and PT were on our own for most of the run.” There were even times when the team was apart from each other.

Narrated by Academy Award™-winner Matt Damon and directed by Academy Award™-winner James Moll, this idea became a reality. Charlie Engle from the United States, along with Kevin Lin from Taiwan and Ray Zahab from Canada, test their strength, spirit, and faith in their ability to finish this grueling and inspirational run. Along the way, they connect with people of different cultures, they suffer setbacks and triumphs, dangerous obstacles, illness, fatigue and extreme climates. They also meet people who have never even had clean water, or understand why these three men have decided to take on this challenge. These men aren’t superheroes, or crazy- they just wanted to run, they are normal men who have taken on an outrageous mission.

They saw the most amazing sights along the way, cities, the desert, including the Pyramids of Giza. The audience sat in awe as they watched the team take a breather as they gazed up at the pyramids. While the team was crossing the Sahara, dealing with sandstorms and dehydration, they came across a desert oasis, the village of Faschi. Charlie said this was the most amazing thing he saw along the trip, as more and more children came out to see them run and then decided to run with them. “They spoke Arabic, but we communicated with smiles and body language.” Samara and Christine with Charlie Engle

The documentary also shed light on the water crisis in Africa. The World Health Organization estimates that lack of safe drinking water kills almost 4,500 children per day, mostly under the age of five. WaterAid estimates roughly 20 percent of the world's population - nearly 1.1 billion people - lack access to clean drinking water. H2O Africa and Running the Sahara mark the launch of a unique collaboration between the recently announced Independent Producers Alliance, LivePlanet, and Allentown Productions.

Co-founded by Matt Damon, H2O Africa is creating widespread public awareness of the water crisis in Africa and gathering support for clean water programs in critical areas, including communities along the Running the Sahara route.

“Running the Sahara tells an inspiring true story of three men on their quest to accomplish what most of us consider impossible,” said Damon. “The project also gave us a chance to call attention to the clean water crisis in that part of the world.” H2O Africa is the charitable component of Running the Sahara, a clean water initiative with the mission to create widespread public awareness of the water crisis in Africa and gather support for integrated sustainable clean water programs in critical areas.

Music from U2, Pearl Jam, Wyclef Jean, and the African Children’s Choir  are featured in this documentary. “I am proud to be part of such an amazing project,” said Jean, whose music is an integral part of Running the Sahara. “I’ve seen suffering in the developing world firsthand and hope people not only enjoy the movie, but find ways that they can help those most in need.”

Charlie, Kevin and Ray attempt to do something that has never been done before in this epic documentary, as they run through Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and Egypt, about two marathons per day, for over 90 days, without a day off. The expedition spans 4,300 miles (6,920kilometers) and passes through six countries. Running the Sahara, is a film not to be missed—the team’s courage, love of running, care of one another, and their strong spirits will inspire you.