This run was one of the most beautiful, breath taking, & challenging runs I have ever experienced and here is how it all began & ended.....
I came back to my running group last April / May after healing an injury for a few months and had begun overhearing talks about some of them going to the Grand Canyon. As time went on and I became closer w/ these girls, I began asking a lot of questions about when they were going, training, etc & eventually Seth & I ended up tagging along for the ride! We began our official "training" for the Grand Canyon back in February by joining the Fleet Feet Ultra Dirtbag training group as they were training 50k and half race in May. We got the 50 mile program & trained as best we could for the next few months (no training can truly prepare you for the North Rim climb though!). Finally, the day came for us to travel to AZ to run from South Rim to the North Rim & back to the South Rim (hence Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim).
We arrived Monday night in Phoenix, AZ and drove to Flagstaff for the night making it halfway to the GC. Tuesday afternoon, we headed to El Tovar hotel in the Grand Canyon to meet our group. There ended up being about 17 of us (only 14 of us ran). The night before Seth & I spent preparing the following:
4 packs of Bonk Breaker Chews (each pack has 8 & is 180 calories)
5 Honey Stinger Waffles (various flavors)
2 1/2 PB&J sandwiches (I broke these down into halves in little snack packs)
2 packs tailwind (1 was in my front 2 bladders & the other in a plastic baggie until I was ready for it)
Food for Seth:
4 Grab the Golds
4 packs of Bonk Breaker Chews
3 snack baggies of Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels
2 packs tailwind
3 PB&J sandwiches
Gear Worn Tracy (Seth pretty much had the same stuff):
CEP compression socks
Nike Wildhorse Trail shoes
Salomon Hydration Pack
Buff (to wipe sweat)
Fleet Feet Visor
Garmin Forerunner 235 (only lasted 13.5 hours)
Thin Jacket from REI (one that could easily fold & fit into pack)
Black Diamond headlamp
Small first aid kit & blister pads
Temps: 45 at south rim to start/ High of 88 in the bottom of the canyon
Distance: 50 miles
Elevation gain: 10,800ft
I think I ended up eating almost everything in my pack, but did have some leftover. Christi Beth had sent us the following below that tells you how far apart the bathrooms / water stops are, so we were prepared for a bathroom / water break almost every 5-6 miles.
We headed to bed extra early on Tuesday and had a 2:30 am wake-up call to start preparing for the run. We met in the lobby at 3:15 am & had a short walk to the trailhead to begin at 3:30 am (it's worth it to pay the extra $$ to be at El Tovar when you're finished for an easy walk back to the room)!
We began our descent on the South Rim and were all in good spirits. A few people took off ahead, Christi Beth was leading the fast pack & we could see their head lamps bobbing below. I took off w/ friends, Andy, Jenn S, Gareth, & Drew, but all of the sudden I looked back & didn't see Seth, so I stopped & waited for him & a few others. Once they caught up, Roy lead our way down the path. We chatted along the way and eventually came to the first stop at Indian Gardens. Truth be told, I didn't realize our group would already be split so far apart & I was a little upset some of the others wouldn't be in any of my pictures, but everyone had different goals. Some wanted to run fast, some wanted to run slower, some wanted pictures, & some didn't take any. At Indian Gardens, we stopped for the bathroom / water (this is about 4.5 miles) and when I came out, our friend Jenn S was there! I guess she had stopped at the previous bathroom (about 3 miles in) and thought others would, but no one did, so she was VERY happy to catch up to us & we were too! The 6 of us (Seth, Me, Corrie, Sam, Roy, & Jenn) stayed together for a large chunk of this run. Here's some morning pictures!
Going down South Rim into the tunnel....
Seth, Sam, & Roy coming down the Rim
Indian Garden Stop
Sun coming up over the Canyon
Sam & Roy @ Indian Gardens
We then ventured on to Phantom Ranch (about 9.5 - 10 miles in) & were still in good spirits. We made sure to drink LOTS of water & ate every hour.
Sam & Seth on the way to Phantom...
Sam, Corrie, & Jenn
Looking at where we are going far in the distance...
Corrie & I
Finally made our way to the River!
Such beautiful morning views..
One of my favorite pics
Seth & Roy by the River!
We finally hit Phantom Ranch & stopped to use the bathroom, fill up our water, & eat some PB&J halves. Then it was onto Cotton Wood / Ribbon Falls!
We had a couple bridge crossings along the way...
Here they come, running down the dirt path
I loved all the different views / colors at different times of the day along the formations
Here comes Seth!
Another shot of Seth on the trail
It looks so far away........!
Finally hit Ribbon Falls...
We had a few creek crossings as well!
Then we hit Cottonwood for another bathroom & water break!
Then it was time to climb the North Rim. This is about a 6,000 feet elevation gain & very steep
We took pics on the way back down at the Overlook.
We were in much better spirits coming back down, but my feet were beginning to hurt. We were headed back to Cottonwood / Ribbon Falls. When we got to Ribbon Falls, some lady had told us earlier that there was a path to a waterfall that we could take and it would dump us back onto the trail skipping what she called "Asinine Mountain," but we realized quickly that it was going to add on more mileage & this put me in a bad place. I was really ready to finish this run, so when we tried taking this other "route," the path didn't dump us back onto the trail exactly. Sam had to carry each one of us across the water & then we climbed up a rock wall to get back onto the path & it was quite the adventure. Jenn S & I were not very happy about our "off road" tour Sam was giving us, but we got over it & were back on our way!
Corrie showing us the way..
Waiting to get to Phantom Ranch
The group traveling through the mountains
Back over the bridge...
Finally made it back to the river
And then it was onto Phantom Ranch where we took another stop. After that, we were SO happy to only have about 10 miles left. Corrie was in a little bit of a bad place at this time, so her & I walked up to the Bright Angel bathrooms & then waited for the group at the Bright Angel Trail where we began our way back!
Such a beautiful view!
When I got to Indian Gardens I could not have been ANY happier to see the 4.5 mile mark. I was SO happy we were almost there. We saw one of our guys, Bob, on his way back & it gave me hope that we were close to being finished! We had been told to expect the last 6 miles to take 30 minutes per mile (so about 3 hours) & it was pretty true. When I heard that, I thought it was crazy, but by that time you are so exhausted that it truly does go by that slow. Seth & I were ahead of our group, so we began the climb and I told him to think about every 30 minutes was a mile. Seth was really struggling at this point, so I was trying to encourage him along. It was getting dark & cold again, so I really wanted to finish, but my achilles tendon was giving me a lot of pain on my left foot. I couldn't get much food down because I was just so ready to be done. I had eaten another PB&J half around 7 pm (about 5-6 miles left). I kept powering up, waiting for Seth here & there & finally we heard voices at the top from someone (I knew this was someone in our group seeing our headlamps). We finally ran into our friend Andy's son toward the top who said he had only been walking for 2 minutes (really this was like 7 minutes going up, every minute mattered at this point).....AND...
(Seth coming up from Indian Gardens)
At LAST, we reached the top where our friend Russ and Roy's wife, Dar, were waiting for us. They were SO kind to wait & see everyone up and gave us the biggest hugs!! Seth & I hugged, touched the trail head sign & then waited for Bob to come up. I wanted to see everyone else finish, but they were still about 20-30 minutes behind & I was freezing and my feet were in pain, so I slowly walked back. I got in the shower and laid down in bed. I ate some soup & tried to eat a roll, but I couldn't get it down. I was exhausted & fell asleep around 10:30 pm.
And that my friends is my first experience with running Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim in ONE day!! I think this is something every runner / trail runner should experience if they can. It is so fun w/ a group & beautiful. It was so neat to be seeing the canyon at sunrise & sunset. My pictures don't do it justice & I haven't edited any of them yet, but hopefully this gives you some insight to our adventure or maybe motivation to do it yourself!