For the second year in a row, I ran the Grand Canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim and back in one day. Last year I did the run with Jon Allen and Cody Draper and it was definitely an extreme baptism into the world of ultra trail running. I'm not sure why, but as soon as I finished last year, I began thinking about doing it again.
This year I did the run with my good friend from the blog, Steve Anderson. We planned to go down together last Friday in Steve's huge RV, do the run on Saturday, and come back on Sunday. At the last minute, my wife Ann decided to go and to bring our kids. So the three of us went down with my two kids along with Natalie and Shelby, Steve's kids. Our kids are about the same age and are good friends, so that worked out well.
The run this year was 51 miles since we had to start and finish at the North Rim Campground instead of the North Kaibab trailhead. Didn't seem to matter at first, but the last mile and a half really sucked!
We got started at 3:30 AM, Arizona time and made it to the South Rim in about 5 and a half hours. Encountered a lot more R2R2R runners than we did last year including a gay couple from Germany. You're probably asking "why is that relevant"? For no other reason other than it amused us at the time because of their cute little matching R2R2R running outfits. At that point in the run, anything that makes you smile is appreciated. We spent more time this year chatting with fellow runners than last year and I really enjoyed finding out about them. It's also fun comparing your relative levels of fatigue on the way back and Steve and I generally felt like we looked better than the other runners. Some we were genuinely worried about.
Saw more wildlife this year. Fall colors were better this year as we did it a couple weeks later than last year. Weather was about the same. Busted my rear end twice descending the Bright Angel Trail this year. No falls last year. I was probably concentrating more last year - not wanting Jon and Cody to make fun of me or be unnecessarily worried about the 46 year-old trail running newby they brought along. So I was pretty banged up at the end of this year's run.
The climb back up North Kaibab was just as brutal as last year but a little colder and more windy. Had to put on my jacket. Lot of walking here and lots of good conversation. I thought that trailhead was never going to appear. Steve and I did a little more whining than Jon, Cody, and I last year! Interesting observation - once reaching the trailhead, we were technically done with our run. However, we were still 1.5 miles from the campground. We actually ran most of the way back along the relatively flat, paved road at about a 9 minute pace. Weird because we felt mostly unable to run on the last 4 miles of the trail. Good to know I can continue running past 50 miles if the terrain is fairly sane.
Got back to the campground just as the sun was setting. Probably ran about the same time as last year, but both our Garmin's petered out on us so I'm not really sure. Ann and the kids had a great fire going at the RV and she made us a pile of French Toast and sausage which was really good. So, yeah, French Toast, sausage, and a frosty cold beer. Nice!
Unlike last year, I'm not feeling a compelling urge to do it again.