I looked at my overall time here and I was just over 8 hours so I knew I would not complete the run in 15 hours so then I thought, well, maybe 17 hours. I took off down the hill heading back to South Rim! It was a great run going down and since I had been working on my downhill running I was moving quite nicely. After I passed the lower water refill stop some guys were on the way back to South rim too and were at the North side eating lunch too and were quickly coming up behind me so I let them pass and said, "hey guys, you are making this look way too easy!" little did I know that I would soon catch up to them and pass them simply because they blew up running that fast downhill.
I soon came upon Molly and Cynthia who were taking a break on the side of the trail. I stopped to chat and then noticed Molly was not feeling well, and in classic fashion, as in ever race I have been with Molly, she had a puking episode, haha. It was perfect, like she was waiting for me to show up or something, but as soon as she did, she was feeling much better! I poured some cold water over her head and Cynthia's to help cool them down and then refilled Molly's handheld bottle with the rest. They were going to take a few more minutes and then move out, so I continued on down the trail. Soon I came upon a Team in Training gal wearing her jersey from Kansas City! She was out hiking with another gal and I stopped and chatted with them and off I went. I finally came into the next water refill area where I had to use the bathroom and the guys that passed me earlier were just getting ready to move out. I refilled, used the bathroom and moved out. The next stop was the Ranger's Station and here is where I caught up to the guys sitting on a table resting and refueling. I refilled by bottle again and sat for just a couple of minutes. I decided to move out first as they seemed to be in no hurry and were talking about an ankle hurting, legs hurting, and something else hurting but I had to get moving before I joined in on the hurting party.
After leaving the Rangers station heading to Phantom Ranch is about 7 miles and since it was later afternoon there was some sunny/hot areas that were exposed so I took it easier in those areas. I also started running/walking with another guy, who I thought was a part of the guys at the table but turns out he was just running himself and ran into those guys and had been staying with them all day, now that we both had dropped them we were running together. His name was Chris and from Salt Lake City, he was on his was to New Mexico for a unexpected funeral in a couple of days. Once we cleared the sunny part it was pretty much easy going into Phantom Ranch but we both were slowing down and doing some more walking.
Finally, at Phantom Ranch I took some time and ate some more food and sharing with Chris since I had plenty! I was careful not to overfill my pack as I knew there were 4 other stations heading back up so I didn't want to carry more than I had to. We left Phantom ranch, crossed the Silver Bridge at the Colorado river and I was pretty exciting know there was only about 4.5 miles let to finish, but not too excited knowing that those 4.5 miles would take 4 hours! My garmin had died out long ago and know I was just using the time on my iphone to gage the pace between mile markers of the water refills.
It was getting dark now and the sun was clearly behind the mountain ridge. Chris did not have a light as his broke early in the morning but luckily I had two, my flashlight and my head lamp so when it was dark he took my head lamp to use. By the time we reached the 3 mile water station, our pace was about 30 minutes/mile! ouch! but not only was it just steep going up, night time, and simply just wore out tired! We sat a few minutes at the 3 mile station and chatted with some other hikers heading back up from Phantom Ranch who had dinner there, they said they had reservations 13 months ago for that dinner! Yikes! 13 month wait!
We all left together but the hikers took out in front of us which was okay by me as I was moving pretty slow.
You could see the head lamps of others either coming down the trail or heading up on the switch back. You could also see the store/lodge bldg. at the top of the trail head which was somewhat annoying because it looked so close but at 3 miles it wasn't! By this time I had cell service and had text Tim, who finished in 15 1/2 hours and told him what my projected finish time would be, which was looking between 11-11:30pm.
I was in a serious rut here and feeling so sleepy at times I just had to sit down and take a break but then I would quickly start falling asleep! This was the same feeling of sleepiness I experienced at Labor of Love 100 during the night and since I pulled a rookie mistake by not bringing any caffeinated gels I was in sleepy land. Knowing the more I sat around the tired I would get and the longer it would take so I tried to minimize that as much as possible, especially, since Chris was leading the way and was waiting for me. With 1.5 mile left we sat down at the water refill area on the bench and just took a few more minutes, then pushed off to finish out the trail.
The last mile was just as hard as the last 4 and maybe even more so because knowing that I was so close to being done I just wanted to get there. Making the last couple of turns at the top of the trail head was quite the enjoyment thinking that I just went from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other and BACK! Holy Shit!! I did it! I hit the top of the trail head where we all started 19 hours earlier! Tim and Bill were there and we all chatted and high fived! Amazing, Simply Amazing. Now we all wondered and talked about where Molly and Cynthia were what there finish time would be, but we knew it would be much later into the morning of the next day. We dropped Chris off at his truck in the visitor center and drove back to the RV where I showered up and then Bill got cleaned up. It was about 12-12:30am and since there was nothing open in our area to eat we decide to drive 50 miles to Williams to eat breakfast at Dennys! Crazy huh!
But sure enough that food at Denny's was pretty damn good and then Tim slept while I drove back 50 miles! Guess we all don't do anything normal, it's always extreme! hahaha.
We got a couple hours sleep and then I went with Bill to the trail head about 6:30am just to make sure we were there when Molly and Cynthia finished up. About 9:30am, as I was resting in the car Tim called and I went back to the RV to pick him up and when we returned to the trail head a few minutes later, Molly and Cynthia were in site coming up the last mile or so of the trail! They reached the top and all was exciting but they were seriously hungry so we went straight to the lodge to eat breakfast, again!
After hearing there story, stomach problems, sleeping on some rocks and running out of food it was a crazy experience but we all finished the Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim crossing!
I was glad to have experienced it with all my friends, some of the greatest people I have come to know and race/train with. I had mixed emotions while on the trail and even suffered in my own pity party for a while, had no caffeine boosts, learned more patience's and seem to find another stop in my mind where you can dig from to push through, those are the things that make this ultra-running special to me.
The Grand Canyon crossing will definitely go down as one of my all time Best experiences in Ultra running. With 48.5 miles and 17,000ft of climbing it has to be!
Stay tuned to for the San Diego Marathon recap and PR!