Thoughts on running the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim (r2r2r)

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was early on March 1st. I was in the shower. I do a lot of thinking in the shower. Sometimes really good ideas come to me. Other times, I have really bad ideas.

I knew my friends Patrick and Michael were going to be running the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim soon, and I’ll be doing a lot of running leading up to Mt. Hood in June and the Houston Marathon in January. I also have this running concept where I do something “epic” in an ultra or marathon training block; that way when I’m actually running the marathon, I can think back to that “epic” thing whenever I start experiencing a low during the race.

I’ve had the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim on my running bucket list, but honestly, I don’t know when I’d actually be able to do that on my own. I’d have to either get runner friends to go with me, or I’d need to make a family trip out it, and I think it would prove to be difficult (and somewhat self-centered) to take a family trip to the Grand Canyon, one of the most beautiful wonders of this world, and just go off on my own to run it and not be able to experience it with the family.

So I felt that this would be kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To do the r2r2r with friends, who are also very experienced ultrarunners. I asked them if I could join, and without much hesitation, they agreed to let me join the team.

Patrick and Michael are going to use the r2r2r as a training run for the Never Summer 100k in July. I’m going at it as probably the most amazing run I’ll probably ever go on. And, I’ll be honest, there are some nerves. Quite a lot of nerves for yours truly.

Since asking and graciously being accepted to run the Canyon on March 1st, Patrick booked our accommodations at Yavapai Lodge. We’ve maintained a group text thread where we’ve keep noodling over flights, and finally we booked our flights yesterday afternoon. There was part of me that was kind of secretly thinking this thing might fold in on itself because among the three of us, something would just come up and it would get delayed or canceled. We booked the flights and, as Patrick said, “Shit’s getting real now.”

In the meantime, I’ve stayed true to my marathon training plan, except I’m folding in some more difficult stuff, like doing hill repeats on the Hill of Life this past Sunday. I’ve run a 50k, and the r2r2r is ~45 miles. They say running is 90% mental. The other 10% is mental.

We’re going to run with poles. I bought a pair of poles. I also splurged on a GoPro Hero 7 and a gimbal because we’re going to have to document this adventure. I also bought a better running vest. My old Ultimate Direction vest chafes my neck, so I splurged on a Salomon S-Lab vest. My next step is to go to Fleet Feet and get some advice on some good ultra distance trail running shoes. I’m leaning toward Hoka, but won’t know until I put some on the wheels and see how they feel and fit. Forty five miles and 11,000 feet of climbing is going to be hard on the old dogs. And then I’m going to have to go on some training runs with my vest loaded with gear, nutrition, the camera and the poles.