A Guide to Running Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Across the Grand Canyon

There’s actually no set method to run 50 miles. Coaching, vitamin, and a little bit of luck are all necessary, but when I may solely inform you one factor, it’s merely “mind over matter.” Put your head down, place one leg in entrance of the different, and faux every part doesn’t harm. (Then repeat till you get to the finish.)

4 good pals and I as soon as ran throughout the Grand Canyon and again in a single day. This run is often often known as the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R).

We began at the South Rim, ran to the North Rim, ate a sandwich, and ran the complete factor again. In complete, 51 miles, 23,000 toes of elevation change, and numerous “holy crap” moments. So far as I’m involved, there isn’t a spot in the world prefer it.

For a bit of background, all 5 of us are skilled distance runners. My 4 pals all raced in faculty and now run extremely marathons with relative frequency. Not that both of these is a necessity—I, in reality, don’t do both.

To organize we dedicated to months of coaching, ramping up mileage and climbing the greatest hills we may discover. Even when it snowed we saved operating in the gymnasium, joking about who may undergo by means of the most treadmill miles.

Running R2R2R is totally different than most heinous distances. (That’s … it’s worse.) Quad-burning descents, steep, unremitting climbs and no exterior assist make it a beast of its personal. Past the first tourist-clogged mile, the trails are principally empty, apart from a pair dozen hikers and the occasional mule prepare.

That is very true in winter, when entry to the North Rim is closed due to snow. Throughout one stretch we didn’t see one other particular person for practically 20 miles.

In case you’re nonetheless studying this, I’m going to assume that you could be be contemplating making a rash choice, and making an attempt to the run R2R2R your self. (Tip of the hat to you.) However, before you purchase a airplane ticket to Phoenix and lace up your sneakers, please learn this information fastidiously.

Begin Early

The primary mule trains depart the South Rim round 5 a.m. These trains take some time to get round. For that motive alone, it’s greatest to begin as early as doable.

Additionally, until you’re blessed with the legs of a superhero, this run will take greater than 12 hours (doubtless way more). So, if you’d like to end in the gentle (Spoiler Alert: You most actually do), then my recommendation is to begin early. In the summer time, beginning early helps keep away from the warmth at the backside, which frequently eclipses 100 levels Fahrenheit.

Begin Gradual

You’re going to be actually excited at the starting. Bottle it. In lower than 8 miles the path drops 5,000 toes to the river. I do know, I do know, operating downhill is basically enjoyable. However operating the subsequent 42 miles with aching quads is not going to be. In case you mood this enthusiasm and hold the tempo modest, you’ll be happier in the future.

Test the Climate

This sounds apparent, however there’s one caveat: elevation. Each rims are above 7,000 toes (the North Rim is nearly 8,000 toes). Once we began on the South Rim, the temperature was in the mid 20s, with snow and ice on the floor. On the North Rim there have been 4 miles of snow.

On the flip aspect, the backside of the canyon is usually 25-plus levels hotter than the rims. Even on a cloudy, December day, we ran in mid 60s temps for a number of hours.

Snack Each Hour

Or much more regularly, for those who really feel hungry. We tried to do plenty of our snacks whereas strolling, to hold us shifting ahead. That is straightforward with gels and blocks, and less-so with sandwiches. We estimated that we burned over 6,000 energy throughout our run and had been solely in a position to devour round 2,500.

Snacks ought to be fairly primary: sugary stuff to hold a gentle stage of vitality. Advanced meals are good for restoration, however take vitality to digest, making them much less excellent to eat throughout the run.

Plan Water Refills

Throughout the winter, the park closes off a lot of the taps to stop pipes freezing. They publish real-time updates that we discovered to be fairly correct. As a result of there was just one faucet operating on the 29-mile stretch from Phantom Ranch to the North Rim and again, we opted to deliver a second water bladder for this lengthy journey. It meant a bit of extra weight, however properly value it to keep hydrated. I drank round 7 liters in complete.

The Proper Gear Makes All the Distinction

Your legs will nonetheless harm and your physique will nonetheless be exhausted, however having the correct tools will make it easier to mitigate blisters, bonking, chafing, and long-term soreness.

Use a well-cushioned shoe like the HOKA One One Speedgoat 2. Make use of a mixture of snacks with carbs, electrolytes, and amino acids like GU Stroopwafels, tabs, and gels. And lube your thighs and beneath arms with Squirrel’s Nut Butter … You’ll thank me later.

Prepare for the Elevation

Deal with hill repeats as a lot as the rest, and don’t be afraid to skip a run to go to the weight room. Not solely is there an enormous quantity of up/down, but it surely additionally comes at a vicious tempo. Rolling hills are one factor, climbing steadily up 5,500 toes is one other.

Leg energy and muscle fatigue performed an even bigger function than cardio for us.

Emotional Altitude Is Inversely Correlated With Precise Altitude

Everybody on this journey lives at sea stage, in the Bay Space. All of us additionally work full-time. Thus, a Friday afternoon flight to Arizona and early morning Saturday begin left nearly no time for acclimatization.

Most of the results had been felt midway by means of our run, as we approached the North Rim. Belief in your crew to get you thru the lows.

Test the Shuttle Instances

A winter R2R2R provides a couple of miles to the run, as a result of parking is restricted. We left our automotive at the customer middle and jogged two miles to the South Kaibab Trailhead.

On the return journey we ran up the Bright Angel Trail, as a result of it’s a couple of mile longer and barely extra gradual grade. To get again to our automotive, we had to catch a shuttle bus. In contrast to us, ensure you check the shuttle times earlier than you end your run.

All Photographs By Andy Cochrane.

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