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The trials and tribulations of an elite level age-group triathlete.

Rim to Rim to Rim

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Rarely do I use the word 'epic' because I feel like it's overused and I believe it should be used for the truly monumental feats. I think you do something really, really cool, you do it with friends and you walk away thinking – “that was pretty epic”. And that's the only way I would describe this past weekend. EPIC.

 Just to make sure everyone is following along, Rim to Rim to Rim is a double crossing of the Grand Canyon. Yes, that Grand Canyon. It's approximately 47 miles round trip with about 11,000' of elevation gain and loss and we started from the south, headed north and then returned back up to the south rim. Oh, and we did it in the same day.

I don’t remember where I first heard of the idea but I was immediately consumed by it. And not being the first set of morons to undertake the double crossing, I began scouring the blogs and various resources to get a bigger picture of what it would take. After I stumbled across some site that talked about the possible restriction of runners / permits and other limits, I felt a sense of urgency to do it sooner than later.

We started our plan last July and after what seemed like an eternity, the week finally arrived. With my suitcase packed, I jumped on a plane, landed in Vegas Thursday morning, connected with John and Maria at the airport and the three of us drove to the Bright Angel Lodge at the South Rim.

When we showed up, it was really cold. And then it started snowing which didn't make me all that happy.



[ ^^^ My not happy face. ]

Later that night, our final contestant for "Who Wants to Run Across the Grand Canyon, Twice", Tom, showed up. We were already unconscious when Tom arrived but the next day, we talked over our final details.





Given the weather, the general consensus was that we would go in with extra layers and drop somewhere once it got warm. Other than that, all systems were go and we killed the rest of the day puttering around the local area.











Hot sauce anyone?....



Dinnertime finally rolled around and we ate at a local establishment with a very unique name....



Despite their unoriginal name, I think we were all pretty happy with their food.

After dinner, we went back to our rooms. I did a final check on my gear, set a 4am wake up and went to bed.



I never gave the alarm a chance to go off. I think my eyes opened just prior to it sounding off and I was jazzed enough to get up. Two cups of coffee, dressed in my gear, out the door and we were on the trail at 5am.



I sort of felt like it should have been darker for longer but the sun started peeking out sooner than I expected which was good for headlamp battery life.







Heads up, you could be in deep sh*t if you're not smart...



In our planning session, we agreed to take the first descent easy. When we arrived at the bottom, it felt warm enough to drop extra gear and then when continued on towards the Colorado River.



Making our way to the river, we ran parallel to it until we arrived at the suspension bridge which allowed us to cross over to the other side.

















From there, we moved toward Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Camp and then to the base of the north rim.









By now, it had warmed up and it turned out to be a really nice day. If anything, maybe just a tad too warm but given the snowfall the day prior, I wasn't about to complain.

When we started the ascent up the north rim, I think we were all starting to feel the weight of the day. As we made our ascent toward the top, we were all getting pretty impatient because the distance on our watches indicated that we should have arrived at the top but when we looked up, it was obvious we were not there yet.  Some pretty awesome views though.



















At one point, I finally stopped thinking we were almost there and had just given in to the fact that I would recognize the top when the trail ended.









When we finally arrived, my Garmin showed we were three miles over but given that not one of us had the same distance, we chalked it up to poor satellite reception.

After refilling our bottles, dumping some trash, picture taking and general tomfoolery, we began our descent with a little more spunk than our ascent. In fact, I think getting to the top sort of tipped us back into a happier place.

On the way up, we were on some fairly narrow ledges and as I descended a little quicker than I probably should've, I noticed some of those sharp U-turns went off into never-never land. I decided it was in my best interest to slow it down, take in more of the scenery and not be the guy who runs off the edge of a cliff.



Going down this side of the canyon seemed really fast and we were on flatter terrain making great time. I figured our total moving time at the end of the day would be somewhere in the 13 hour range and we were on track for that time or even better.



Heading back toward the Colorado River, I think we were all feeling pretty warm and I was happy to find more faucets were open than was reported on the park's web site. From the top of the rim to the river, I believe there were three water stops and I refilled both bottles at each location plus my Camelbak at two of the three locations.

Prior to starting the day, we were all in agreement that the final ascent would be a power hike. After crossing back over the Colorado River,



we started our hike through the sandy section along the river and up the ascent to Indian Garden where we picked up our dropped gear from earlier in the day. From there on, it got tough. The sun set, the headlamps went on and without any real sense of where the top might be, other than the headlamps of other trekkers, we continued our grind up knowing that we'd eventually pop out on the south rim.

We spread out a little and by this point, I had crawled inside my head with the singular focus of just getting it done. I passed a few people on the way but my tunnel vision narrowed and other than one person who asked me a question, I recall very little other than my strong urge to get to the top.

And then like that, it was over.

I plopped my butt down on the stairs next to the trail, called my wife and not long after, Tom arrived.



And then John and Maria arrived.





Finishing later than we had anticipated, we decided to head straight to the restaurant with our full on stink at which point, we devoured large quantities of food.

My Garmin died about 30 minutes prior to finishing, my best guess is a total moving time of around 12:30 but total time was over 15 hours. Mileage varies between us with a range of 47-52 miles and the total ascent and descent is a little under 11,000'.

Some extra photos --











And this guy, we saw another just like him -- they were in a race from Mexico to Utah.  The park wouldn't allow them to let their bikes touch the ground so they packed them across the south to the north....



On Sunday morning, we met up for breakfast. After, we said our goodbyes to Tom, checked out of our rooms and we drove back to Vegas.

What happens in Vegas -- ends up on my blog!

Play hard, rest hard....



Finally getting a decent glass of wine....



Wandering out onto the strip, we were getting the Vegas experience....









We hopped on a bus called the 'Deuce' which took us to Fremont Street.  Needless to say, the name 'Deuce' became the phrase word for many things poop related.



Down on Fremont Street, we found all of the fun you could handle...











Bringing the night to a close....





Taking one last look out my hotel window....



Epic.