Rob Murphy

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run

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Salt Lake City,Ut,

Member Since:

Feb 11, 2010



Goal Type:


Running Accomplishments:

I had some success in high school and college. Winner 1985 Rod Dixon Run 

Had a fair amount of success as a Masters runner for most of my 40s. 

Short-Term Running Goals:

Have fun, not get fat, stay fit.

Long-Term Running Goals:

 Keep running in some fashion.


I teach AP European History and other courses at Alta High School. I coached the track and cross country teams at Alta for 16 years.

Married, two kids - Abby and Andy

My Twitter  @murphy_rob

Miles:This week: 17.30 Month: 25.55 Year: 1531.99
Race: Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run (48.5 Miles) 10:58:00, Place in age division: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

I won the Masters division. Can't remember whether it was Jon or Cody that took the overall title. Although, we all finished together. (This is a joke by the way. There were 3 guys on the run. Me and two 30 years olds.)

So, about two weeks ago, I was invited to run back and forth across the Grand Canyon a couple times with Jon Allen and Cody Draper. Apparently this is something hard core ultrarunning trail runners like Jon and Cody enjoy doing. Not knowing any better, and despite never having run over 26 miles, I accepted.

We headed down on Sunday morning after breakfast at my house. Upon arriving at the North Rim, we did the typical tourist stuff, took pictures, hung around the lodge, and bought stuff in the over priced gift shop for our kids.Then we returned to our tent and went to bed around 9 pm. I only slept an hour or two because my mind was too wired for Monday's adventure.I think Jon was the same way, but Cody was snoring away between us.

Got up around 4 am, had a cliff bar, banana, and a bottle of Starbucks frappacino - 2 bottles, and were on the trail by 5:30 am. The North Rim is at an elevation of about 8200 feet and the Bright Angel Trail that descends down the canyon is quite steep with lots of switchbacks, rocks, and log steps. With only our headlamps for illumination, we went  tearing down the trail at a pace I felt was suicidal. It was clear that Jon and Cody were more experienced on the technical trails than I was so I let them go. I chose to focus on not breaking my ankle or plummeting off the canyon edge.But I could always see their headlamps up ahead on the switchbacks.The temperature warmed up from 31 degrees to the mid 50s pretty quick as we lost elevation. I ditched my hat and base layer in a bush near the ranger cabin a few miles down - hoping to find it on the way back.We got to the first big bridge over Cottonwood Creek and, of course, peed off of it in the dark. Fun.

When the trail leveled off, we were able to clip along at 7:30 to 8:00 pace for quite a while. Probably through the Phantom Ranch campground to the Colorado River crossing at an elevation of 2400 feet.This was great running in perhaps the most beautiful place on the planet. I couldn't believe that I was on a 50 mile run through the Grand Canyon. I really enjoyed chatting with the backpackers we met along the way whenever we stopped to fill up our bottles. Lots of incredulous head shakes as we explained to them what we were doing.

*** Funniest conversation - on the return trip (about 32 miles into the run), we came on a group of hikers sitting on a bench taking a break next to the water faucet at Phantom Ranch. An exhausted looking woman asked us what we were doing. I don't even think she really believed us. Anyway, I decided to show some interest in what she was doing and so I asked how far they were going. "I don't even want to tell you" she said. "It's too embarrassing, kind of like talking to Donald Trump about how much money you make". We laughed heartily! I told her that if it made her feel any better, that I was just a humble schoolteacher.

After crossing the Colorado, we began the long 10 mile climb up to the South Rim. This was a very challenging trail and my quads were burning.We managed lots of running, but had to "hike fast" on the steeper portions. Lots of backpackers and mule trains on this trail. The amount of Mule pee and poop on the trail was stunning!

Ominously, shortly before arriving at the South Rim, we came across a NPS sign that read the following...

"Warning! DO NOT attempt to hike from the canyon rim to the river and back in one day. Each year hikers suffer serious illness or death from exhaustion". This is printed in English, French, German, and Japanese. And there's a hiker on the sigh who is clearly about to expire. Of course, this was not at all what we were attempting. We were going from the rim, to the river, to the other rim, back to the river, and back to the first rim. Only four times what the sign was warning us to avoid. 


Made it to the South Rim well before noon. I bought two Gatorade's and drank one and filled one of my bottles for the return trip with the other. Used the restroom, shook the sand out of my socks, and ate a big cheese muffin.I also got a Snickers Bar which I thought might be great for the return trip.Jon, Cody, and I got someone to take our picture on the South Rim and then we headed back on the return.

Talk about quad pounding, treacherous downhill! I almost busted my ass on several occasions and by the time we got to the Colorado my legs were on their way to becoming mush. By now it was hot and their was little shade.After Phantom Ranch I ran by myself for a couple hours as Jon and Cody decided the run wasn't long enough and decided to take a 3/4 mile detour to sight see. This was a lonely, tough stretch, but I was able to maintain 10 minute miles from around mile 35 to 38. Unfortunately, I had drained both my bottles and was on my way to becoming dehydrated. When I finally got to the Cottonwood camp ground I downed two full bottles and filled back up. Fortunately, as I was getting ready to pull out, Jon and Cody showed up and I finally had some company.

We stayed together until the end, struggling on the steep climb back up the North Rim to dip under 30 minutes per mile. Cody did a great job of keeping me honest and forcing me into a jog on the less insanely steep portions of the trail.

Jon mostly told hilarious jokes!!!

It was really depressing how slowly the quarter mile increments on my Garmin were ticking off. But we knew we were getting close. I was dead tired and aching everywhere, but definitely had one of the most intense feelings of accomplishment ever. I was literally finding it hard not to cry. Despite the pain, I understand now why people get hooked on running these kinds of distances. Not that that will happen to me - I'm still looking forward to my next 5k.

We ran North Rim to South Rim in exactly 5 hours. The return trip was 5:58. Counting time stopped, filling bottles, heeding the call of nature, yielding to mules, resting on the South Rim, and chatting with backpackers the total time was more like 12:50. 

After the run, we drove back to Salt Lake since Cody and I had to be at work today, and Jon had the movers coming to take his stuff to South Carolina at 8 am. We got to my house at 2:30 am. I slept for 3 hours and was in class at 8:00. Great conversation on the ride home and lots of eating. I've been famished all day today, literally can't stop eating.

So this was my introduction to trail running. I guess a 50 miler through the Grand Canyon is as good a place as any to start.

I can't wait to read Jon and Cody's reports. Hopefully with lots of pictures. 

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00Weight: 0.00Calories: 0.00
From jtshad on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 16:42:43 from

All I can say! Sounds like an incredible experience. Are you ready to lead another expedition next year?

From dugco on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 16:46:00 from

The tranquil sound of the river... makes ya wanna pee! Classic. Excellent report (so far), Rob. Would say I wish I was there with you, but, I don't. Maybe on a bike or a mule, or possibly when I grow up as a runner. Sounds like a truly spiritual experience - congrats.

From Smooth on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 17:51:12 from

WOW! What an adventure! Love reading your report!

From jtshad on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 19:07:27 from

Did you guys hook up with Geoff?

From Rob Murphy on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 19:37:52 from

Jeff - We were already planning next year as we drove home. Steve Anderson has a nifty RV. The plan is to convince him to go, take the before and after a bit more leisurely and in style.

Doug - It was a lot of fun in that not so fun sort of way. Maybe think a year or two down the road?

From Rob on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 11:01:31 from

Cool race, thanks for that report. I'm not sure I'm mentally ready to run for 12+ hours straight. But maybe some day I'll have to give it a try.

From Bret on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 12:47:19 from

Great story and report Rob. I can only imagine the eurphoria that you felt when you finished - what an accomplishment. I still don't understand the whole ultra thing - but when I read narratives like yours and others - I start to get it. Not saying I would do it myself...

Rest up and hopefully you will be walking straight again in a few days.

From Jon on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 14:59:25 from

Rob, it was great running with you and reading this report. Some funny and enjoyable memories, that's for sure. Your toughness to do this run with us was amazing, especially given your lack of ultra experience. You are well-indoctrinated now, though I really don't know how you'll top this... I mean, what other runs can you do that will be better than this one?!? You should be very proud of your accomplishment. And with enough practice, you'll be running at a suicidal pace down crazy trails, too!

From Rob Murphy on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 16:02:06 from

Thanks a lot Jon. Can't wait to see your report.

From Jon on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 16:10:52 from

It's posted.

From baldnspicy on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 22:08:05 from

Wow! You're more incredible than I ever imagined. I'm with Bret. One day I'll have to try an ultra even if it kills me! I love the grand canyon and have been to the bottom. I can't imagine running the canyon, but that would be simply incredible and now you've experienced it! Wow!

From baldnspicy on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 22:11:47 from

Since you've suggested books to me, here's one that you should read if you haven't already:

Never read it, but hey, it sounds like you've graduated to it. Your next feat should be running around the Rockies!

From Teena Marie on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 22:40:29 from

Are you for real?????

Dang, Rob!!!! Nothing like 'going big or going home'!!!!!!!

Seriously ... I can't stop hitting the exclamation point!!!!!!!! You are completely insane and completely a stud!

The lady with the Donald Trump comment sounds awesome. Did you get a pic of her? And how about the sign? Any pics of it?

I'm still trying to pick my jaw off of the floor.

DANG!!!! :) :) :)

A huge congrats.

From rockrun on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 22:49:02 from

Awesome report... I have hiked and kayaked in the GC but never ran it... sounds like an adventure I may have to go for!!

From Cody on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 00:11:55 from

Nice trail run debut Rob! Like Jon says it is tough to top this one. I was very impressed with your ability to keep pushing so hard even when there was no point (other than to keep us from bugging you). I loved hearing you stories and getting to know you better. Great memories. Well done!

From Predog on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 00:32:13 from

Hey great job keeping up with Jon and Cody on a tough run! I'm really jealous that I had school and wasn't able to go with y'all.

From Rob Murphy on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 10:46:47 from

Wes - Thanks. Yor are right, this definitely ranks as one of my best running memories. The book sounds interesting. Can you just send me the title?

Teena - I've been waiting for you to comment because your enthusiasm oozes through your keyboard like no one else on this blog and always makes me smile/laugh. Thanks so much.You can find some great pictures of the run at Jon's blog -

rockrun, Predog - You guys would definitely love this run and do well. We'll do a trip next year ok?

From baldnspicy on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 17:37:20 from

The title is: Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

It came up when I was on Amazon and it sounded like something you've graduated into. :-)

From RAD on Sat, Oct 16, 2010 at 12:59:40 from

Rob, Amazing! I loved the report. I HIKED the S to N rim in one day and I remember seeing that sign and making some sarcastic remarks about it :) However, even with your chat time you finished both ways faster than I did ONE way. It was great to read your report and reminisce of the beauty we passed through at different points. I also remember Cottonwood fondly - the water there is AMAZING, especially after trudging through the 'box' (the flat, hot part from Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood). I remember just hearing the sound of a river and wanting SO bad to dip my hat into the icy cold water and pour it over my head! Your report brought back many of those feelings. I also love that you peed off the bridge, being a mother of 3 boys I can certainly appreciate that one! Gotta love boys :) Sounds like you had an AMAZING trip, and you deserve HUGE KUDOS for this being your VERY first +marathon distance. Nothing like going all out for the first one! THEN teaching after just 3 hours of sleep!!! I'm in awe at your adventure, and someday when I loose all sanity I may have to try this...someday. AMAZING!

From Steve on Sun, Oct 17, 2010 at 16:45:54 from

That is the coolest report, I read it three times! I can't believe you just went out and ran that far. You guys are some sick individuals..

OK, I'll go with you next year. :)

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