Rim to Rim to Rim attempt

This attempt at running from the top of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim to the South and back had been on the cards for the best part of a year and all my runs over the last year or three have kind of been leading up to this. Having to say goodbye to the best dog in the world, Atticus the day before almost made me cancel but you don’t get opportunities like this very often… Derek, Jon and I headed down from SLC around 3pm on Friday afternoon and set up our tents in the forest about 7 hours later just outside the National Park. Temperatures fell that night to 13F ( -10°C ) and none of us slept particularly well, we were up by 5am and drove to the Kaibob trailhead and changed into shorts and shirts and headlamps and started the descent in the cold and dark as the sun slowly rose. Starting a trailrun downhill is very different to the usual hard uphill and though I should probably have saved my energy, we got to the bottom in under 3 hours and it might be the best trail I’ve ever run, the going was soft and mostly wide enough to pass people okay, the views were magnificent and ever changing with the light and elevation, and the temperature was perfect and shaded all the way down. Any new trail is fun but I’d never been into the actual Grand Canyon before and the scale of everything is just ridiculous for a country lad like me. As good as it gets really.

After crossing the Colorado river and waiting for the mule train to go past delivering luggage and supplies to the folks staying at Phantom Ranch, Derek and I began the ascent, by this point it was getting hot. After getting about halfway up to the rim I wasn’t doing great and the temperature (it hit around 85F (30C)) and incline was only going to get worse. There was also the small matter of getting back the 18 odd miles to the North Rim, so I decided to give up on the R2R2R goal and just make sure I got back okay. Derek, who is made of sturdier stuff and has done this madness before, carried on and made it to the top (South Kaibob trailhead) while I waited down at Phantom Ranch and then we did the long ascent back to the car together. By the end of it I was pretty beaten up and limped over the finish line about half an hour after the sun had fully set and we made it to the Saloon in North Rim in time for Bright Angel IPAs before heading back to the tents. Maybe this time next year I can try again now I know better what is involved. A warmer sleeping bag is first on the list and more training on ascents in full sun/ heat. The full R2R2R that Derek did is 20,000 feet of ascent, 46 miles and I managed about 14,500 over 37 miles or so. It’s by far the furthest I’ve done in a day Map of the GPS recording (10 KM further that the 50K a fortnight ago) but I’m still a disappointed I didn’t do the full thing. Maybe next year. I should have a better phone by then too… these photos could have come out better, with such different light levels and the massive scale of everything it was hard to take decent shots but these give an idea. Photos of me courtesy of Derek. Decided not to include the one of me looking very pale post puke on the way up…

Unforgettable.

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