Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Grand Canyon R2R2R Preview

A few months ago I emailed a fellow ultrarunner after seeing that he planned to do the Grand Canyon R2R2R this Spring. He replied and offered me to join. I have been wanting to do this run since my first trip to the Grand Canyon last year. Our plan is to drive down May 18th and camp at the North Rim. We will attempt the run on May 19th, then stay the night again and drive home on May 20th.

We don't have a plan for how long it will take as this is a unique journey and we hope to enjoy it. Collecting time on our feet is important to both of our respective 100 mile training plans. After the run we hope to enjoy a night under the stars, an open flame, some good food, and some beer!

The current weather forecast is for slightly hotter than normal May weather. The temperatures will be near 70 degrees on the North Rim where we are staying.  Phantom Ranch, in the bottom of the canyon, is projected to be between 98 and 101 degrees. And our turn around point at the South Rim should be about 80 degrees.


I have become a HUGE fan of the new GU Roctane Drink. The beverage provides me 250 calories in every serving. However, it is limited to an electrolyte beverage only. My companion for this journey, Sherpa John, suggested I try Clip2. Clip 2 provides some fat and protein that Roctane does not. I will likely have both on hand and alternate as necessary. My plan is to carry two handheld water bottles and my new GoLite Rush pack. The pack doubles as a hydration system and a carrying pack.

Shoes & Gear

I am not sure yet. I just ordered a pair of Montrail Masochists for longer runs. Having not yet tried those, I may revert to my MT110s or my PureGrit.  Below is a gear check list:
  • Two hand held water bottles
  • Shoes (???)
  • Shorts & shirt
  • Body glide
  • Garmin
  • Sun glasses
  • Visor (or floppy hat?)
  • Sun screen
  • GPS Camera
  • iPod
  • Headlamp (and batteries)
  • TNF Stormy Trail jacket
  • Tent, sleeping bag, pillow


UltraRunning.com provided a good article in which the runners outlined their needs for the day. My goal, as always with an ultra, is to get between 250 and 400 calories per hour. I will get between 150 and 250 of that from electrolyte beverages.  Here is a food list:
  • Clip 2 (10 packets)
  • Roctane Brew (4 servings)
  • Gels (4 - 6)
  • Perpetuem (2 packets)
  • Sustained Energy (2 packets -- for breakfast)
  • S! Caps
  • Honey Stinger Waffles (2 or 3)
  • Protein Bars (4 - 6)
  • Tums
  • Immodium AD
  • Candided Ginger
  • Steaks and corn (for the feast afterward)
  • Beer (for the feast afterward)
  • Couple of gallons of water

Route Plan

I borrowed the below information from an article in Ultra Running.  You can see from the below table that we are taking the "harder" path starting at the North Rim because the biggest climb of the day is the end. In fact, we end with three climbs totaling about 5600 feet in elevation.

Aid/Location Elevation Cum Miles Miles Gain/Loss
North Kaibab Trailhead 8241 0

Roaring Springs 5200 4.74.7 -3041
Cottonwood campground4000 6.9 2.2-1200
Phantom Ranch2560147.1-1440
Indian Garden campground3900 19.35.31340
Bright Angel Trailhead (South Rim) 6860 23.8 4.5 2960
Indian Garden campground 3900 28.34.5 -2960
Phantom Ranch 2560 33.65.3-1340
Cottonwood campground 4000 40.77.1 1440
Roaring Springs 5200 42.92.21200
North Kaibab Trailhead 8241 47.64.73041


  1. Good luck AJ and thanks for the post! I'll probably borrow your gear list.

    I've got a (by comparison) simple rim to rim hike set up for the end of May. Hope you accomplish your goal of rim to rim to rim!

  2. good luck, I did this run last year with a group of us from Toronto. Simply the most amazing run I have ever done. You are going to have a blast.