Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grand Canyon


A week from now I'm going to run across the Grand Canyon ... Twice. I'm really excited about this classic bucket-list item. Classic if you're an ultra runner, of course. My wife thinks we're utterly out of our minds.

Just in case you're not familiar with the Rim-to-rim-to-rim (r2r2r for short), it's a 45-ish mile run that typically starts on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Two trails go down, the Bright Angel trail and the South Kaibab trail. The Bright Angel trail is longer but less steep. It also has a few water sources. The South Kaibab is a bit steeper but shorter with no access to water. Once at the bottom, the trails end at a suspension bridge that crosses the Colorado river. On the north side, there is only one trail that goes up, the North Kaibab trail. The South Rim is at 6800 feet. We will descend to 2400 feet, cross the bridge over the Colorado River, climb to 8240 feet at the North Rim, and then return. Altogether, the elevation gain, including some ups and downs along the way will be about 11,000 feet. It's going to be Epic.

At this point of the racing season, I'm in ok shape, nothing more. I peaked for Burning River and I've been trying to maintain a minimum of distance ever since. I paced Kendra for 70km about a month ago at Haliburton and since then I've done a couple of 4+ hour runs on trail. My weekly totals have been lackluster due to work. It is so crazy at work that my wife prefers that I run rather than work. Anyhoot, this ain't a race so all I need is to be in decent shape, which I am, and be well prepared. The temperature should be nice as long as we're ready for the near 0C at the start at 4AM and then up to 30-33C in the afternoon. Granted, it's a dry heat (ah, ah), but there is NO shade.

This run is going to be different from any other run I've ever done. For one thing, anyone who has ever been to the Grand Canyon knows that the very idea of crossing it in one day is ludicrous. Doing it twice seems impossible. I've been there twice. The second time was last Fall and we already had formed a plan of coming this year. When the view hit me, I have to admit that my resolve faltered a bit. Holy shit, it's big and it's barren! It's beautiful though.

Another thing that's special about the run is that you see where you're going. It's only 10 miles away, as the crow flies. The other side might as well be on the moon, it looks so unreachable.

I'll try to be a good boy and take some pictures and maybe some video. See you next week.

10 comments:

West Grey Runner said...

Have a wonderful time JD, enjoy the experience.

Sara said...

Have fun, JD!!

David said...

Don't underestimate the altitude either. 8,000+ feet is HIGH. You'll be sucking wind :)
So envious, lots of pics please. I assume you are doing Bright Angel down...and then South Kaibab on the way back up - gotta run/walk them both.

JD said...

David, actually, I met someone at the local shoe store who does it a couple of times a year and he told me the Bright Angel trail is very rocky and damaged, due to donkey traffic, and the views suck. He strongly recommended South Kaibab in both direction. We will talk it over this weekend.

Johnny said...

I think we should go up both, just to say we did it.

David said...

For me it would be the water factor, you can never be too careful. You guys can run rocks, but running out of water or having to conserve on such an epic adventure is not something you want to face. Plus as Johnny said " You HAVE to, to say you did". No regrets.

slowrunner said...

whatdoyamean we have to cross a suspension bridge!??!!!

JD said...

Did you think we were going to swim across the Colorado River? Don't worry, it's a nice one!

chris mcpeake said...

It sounded like such a good idea when we planned it last year. I mean how hard could it be?

Carlos said...

Well the 25th is my birthday so you guys better make me proud, all the best and very jealous! If you do it again next year i'm in.