Friday, May 25, 2012

Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim Run. Part 1

Since I got into ultra running I have heard others running the Grand Canyon and it always interested me but every year when people started to plan and announce there runs I was not able to join in as my schedule just didn't allow it. Earlier this year, I got it in the back of my mind that I wanted to complete this run no matter what and it would just take planning and putting into action!

On May 20, 2012, myself and 4 others; Tim, Bill, Molly and Cynthia all started at 4:15am from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel trail for an epic adventure run! Here's how it went down.

When told a few other a couple months ago I wanted to run Grand Canyon and got some details from the web on others that have run it, the only person that seemed upfront interested in running was Tim. He said to keep him posted on the dates/plans etc. Molly was interested but didn't know if the timing would work out. Finally, I just decided the date had to be in May and I was open to two of the weekends in the middle of the month and bound and determined to go by myself or with a group, luckily, the date worked out for everyone and now here we were driving to the Grand Canyon on Friday, May 19, in Tim's RV motor home. We would have a RV camp site in the small town of Tusayan, AZ, just about a mile from the entrance to the Grand Canyon. Tim tried to get a site inside the park but they were all booked. 

Once we got to the RV site and Tim set up the RV we grabbed some food and then drove to the Grand Canyon park and to find the Bright Angel trail head where we would be starting. The park was naturally busy and we had to walk just a ways to get to the trail head but once there it was amazing to see the Grand Canyon itself let alone think that we would be running it in less than 15 hours! After a few pictures and walking down the trail about a 1/4 mile we made our way back to the car and returned to the RV where everyone started preparing there run gear and snacking on light food/dinner.

Pretty much everyone went to bed by 8:30pm but for some reason I was not tired but knew I had to get some sleep, it took me a while but I finally feel asleep, but tossed and turned all night in anticipation of the alarm clock at 3am! I was actually glad when it did go off as everyone seemed to wake up quickly and the coffee started brewing and soon everyone was dressed, ready to go and last minute bathroom breaks were being taken care of. We rolled out in the darkness and at the RV site it was quite chilly, 39* according to Tim's thermometer.

I had a few plans in mind and things I wanted to accomplish for this run. 1) Have fun and enjoy the Grand Canyon's views; 2) Continuous movement, 3) stay hydrated/fueled 4) fine tune some gear I was using. Overall, I accomplished all of those goals, yes, I did want to finish in under 17 hours but overall time was not a major concern as I knew it was going to be a long day. I knew when I hit the North rim climbs that 17 hours would be out the window and was hoping to just finish under 20 hours. Now you think, damn, 20 hours for 48.5 miles and that's what I say but the climbing of 17,000ft just wears on you after a while and slows you down.

For my gear, I was using my Camelbak Octane pack, which I love/hate. Love because it definitely holds plenty of water and has a huge carrying capacity for all kinds of junk! and Hate because after a long time it just wears on my shoulders, especially, my left. I have adjusted and played with the straps for a different fit but just doesn't work, it is what it is. I would be also be carrying my handheld bottle. For food/fuel I had 2-peanut butter sandwiches (totally smooshed by the time I ate them) 2 Pop Tarts, 2 bags of Beef Jerkey, 4 snack packs of Pringles!, 2 Paydays, 1 Snickers, 8 Isagenix shakes, 1 cup Sweet Potato Chips, and several Luna Bars, Peanut Butter Crackers, and Cheese Crackers. I was a moving Buffet!
I had no gels, which would prove to be a bad deal later on in the run, and totally spaced out on taking anything caffeinated! I would use my handheld to mix up my Isagenix shakes and also just carry more water as sometimes I get tired of drinking from the bite valve.

There are water stops/refills at mile 1.5, 3, 4.5, Phantom Ranch once on the other side of the Colorado river, about mile 7, Cottonwood campground, mile 14, Roaring Springs-Rangers Station mile 16, and then about mile 19 but this one is only open during the summer, May15-Oct15. and the same for the top of North Rim. So overall, I had 8 water filling stations along the out and back route, which was great! The longest being 7 miles.

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