Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 27th, 2011 – Grand Canyon Single Crossing – New Record

As planned this weekend, Jared Scott and I were attempting to break the Grand Canyon Single Crossing record.  The current record is 3hr 6min 47sec held by Allyn Cureton of Williams, AZ.  He set the record in 1981, so if you do the math, this record is 30years old!!..

After camping on the NRim Thursday night, we woke at 5am on Friday morning to prepare for the day.  After a quick bite to eat, we drove the 20min over to the trail head.  There we did a quick warmup and stretch, then we were off.  We got started right at 6:45am.

Our plan was to run how we feel.  If Jared felt good he would lead.. If I felt good I would lead.  We didn’t want to wait on each much as we knew this could slow both of us down and be counter productive. 

So as planned, Jared & I exchanged the lead numerous times as we steadily pushed our way down the NRim decent.  As we whipped by hikers and skipped through the almost dry waterfalls, we kept the mood light and talked about anything and everything knowing that the next stretch from Cottonwood Campground to the SKaibab Bridge would be a bit more “intense”. 

After quickly filling up our 18oz water bottles at Roaring Springs, we pushed our way to Cottonwood Campground.  Our split from the ~7miles from the NRim to Cottonwood was 51:47.  This was a few minutes faster than I expected, but it felt fairly comfortable, so things are good.

After about 10min of pushing past Cottonwood, Jared had to stop and stretch his Hamstring as it was starting to grab.  Jared told me not to wait, so instead, I slowed the pace and took a bathroom break until I saw that he was running again.  Dropping 5,000 feet is tough on your body and when you are transitioning to flat running it reminds me a little bit like transitioning from the bike to run in a triathlon. 

At this point, I am about 30sec up on Jared and running hard, but comfortable.  My plan was to run consistent and stay within myself.  My measure of “consistency” is effort not pace.  So I didn’t want to feel like I was digging deep until after Midway up SKaibab. Everything was going perfect.

As we rolled into Phantom, I eased the pace in preparation for the climb up SKaibab as planned.  During that stretch Jared passed me and put about 20seconds on me and he looked really comfortable while he was doing it.  At that point, I was thinking, “This guy is going to break 3hrs for sure”. 

We quickly filled our bottles and I decided to stop for a quick stretch and a gel.  My hip flexor had gradually been tightening up so I figured doing a couple quick stretches would be worth the time.  Huge mistake.  As I bent over to grab my leg every muscle from the middle of my back to my calves started flipping-out!!. CRAMPS!!.. Ok, so no more stretching.

Within a few minutes, I actually felt back to normal and pretty good again.  Jared was about 45seconds up on me as we got to the bridge.  My split on the ~8.5miles from Cottonwood to the SKaibab Tunnel was 53:07 (Cumulative = 1:44:54).  A little slower than I expected but cumulative time was dead on.  My goal was 1hr 45min. 

On a positive note, there is just ~6miles to go.  On the flip-side, it is up SKaibab.  I am guessing it is already somewhere in the 80-85 degree range… There is no water until you get to the top.. The trail is super exposed and crowded with people… oh yeah and it’s wicked steep (5,000ft of climbing in ~6miles).

So off we went up SKaibab.  My plan to keep pretty mellow until I hit “Midway”.  Jared always takes a different strategy and pushes the lower part of the climb pretty hard, so I knew he would jump out on a bit.

As we pushed our way up to Skeleton Point, about 1/3 of the way up, I am on pace to be right around 3hrs and Jared is about 2min ahead of me…. But it is HOT!!!

Jared is literally “floating” up the steeps at this point and I am starting to think that I won’t be able to close the gap.  I keep chanting my mantra of “consistency” as I the temptation creeps to make a move to close the gap.  I am sure if I started to hammer at this point I would be “gassed” by the time I hit Cedar Ridge.. so I begin to become content with the fact that I am well on pace to run right at 3hrs.

Within minutes of Skeleton, I can see a long mule train ascending the trail.  Oh no.  I am hoping and praying that I get lucky and am able to get around them with limited impact on my time.

When I get to the switch backs heading into Midway, I hit the train.  I begged the mule driver on the back to let me by, but I unfortunately I got the response “.. Have to wait til it’s safe”.  I kept asking and pleading.. then it turned into a little bit of cursing under my breath.  They finally pulled over after what seemed an eternity… 6min had passed.  OUCH!!!.. I looked up the trail and I couldn’t even see Jared anymore.  He got past the train at the perfect time and didn’t lose any time.  Just the luck of the draw.

I know that I am not going to hit the 3hr mark or get close to Jared, but I keep thinking I have a chance to break the original record, which would still be a huge accomplishment.  I start to hammer up the rest of the switchbacks.  Before I know it, I am trying to make up some of the lost time and pushing harder than I should. 

As I push across my way past the Tonto trail head.. then up and around to the last climb up to Cedar Ridge, I can actually see Jared.  Honestly, I was shocked.  At the same time, my body was feeling pretty spent.  Over the last quarter mile climb leading to Cedar Ridge, I started cramping.. calves, hamstrings, and quads.  I ran out of water somewhere around Midway and my body is thirsty. 

Another unpleasant sight was around Cedar as well…. Another F’n Mule Train.  Jared looked like he was going to time it right and catch them right at Cedar Ridge where he wouldn’t have to stop.. I doubt I would get that lucky.. but we’ll see.

After Cedar Ridge, I had to move into a Run-Hike strategy to keep from “locking-up” with cramps. To break the old record, I would have to throw-down.. and my body was definitely not up for that.  At that point the realization kinda hit me.. no record for me today.  I could only hope that Jared had enough left in the tank to get the record.

As I round the turns, I smell the mules.. and Bam.. back to walking behind the mules.. This time the guides let me over a lot more quickly and I lose only 1 minute.  A few minutes later, I see Eric Bohn who is there to cheer me on over the last 7min. 

As we close-out the last section, he gets the text… JARED SCOTT BROKE THE RECORD.. THE NEW RECORD IS 3HRS 6MIN 10SEC.

Shortly after, I closed out my run, finishing in 3hrs 13min 45sec.(Split from SKaibab Tunnel to Kiosk = 1hr 28min 51sec)

As I finished my run, I was REALLY happy that Jared got the record.. but also disappointed that my day didn’t go quite the way I wanted.  As I said before, that’s just the luck of the draw.  I am not the only one who has been held up by mule trains.. Had Jared not gotten the record, I think I would have been a little more upset.. At this point, I am just happy to know that a really good guy, a great runner.. and a friend now holds the GC Single Crossing Record… Congrats Buddy!!!

Splits                                                                Split                 Cumulative
NRim to Cottonwood                                       51:47
Cottonwood to SKaibab Tunnel                     53:07              1:44:54
SKaibab Tunnel to SKaibab Kiosk              1:28:51            3:13:45

Things done right
Fueling was pretty well spot on
Water/Gel in 1st Water Bottle
Gel at Roaring Springs + Refill Water Bottle
Gel at Phantom + Refill Water Bottle & Drank a Water Bottle while there
Gel just at Midway & Finished Water – Since it was hot, it would have been nice to have a refill around Skeleton Point.

Things to do differently
-Mule Trains – Any way to plan around them??.. Need to research.
-Training – My training was pretty minimal over the past 6weeks due to “life” events.  Further, I should have been running in the Canyon more.  I only ran 4 times in the Canyon over the past 5months.  To run really fast in the Canyon, I believe you have to train in the Canyon.

Thanks to Aerie, Avin, & Nick (My Family) for giving me time to train..
BIG THANKS to Caleb Schiff for being our “shuttle driver”. 
Thanks for all the support from everyone before & afterwards.  I really appreciate it!!


  1. Wow. Helluva run - congratulations to Jared and well run by you!

  2. Nice work guys! Wish I could have seen it. I have no doubts that the new record wont stand long after a little more training from you.

  3. good job both of you guys. good seeing you too.

  4. Congrats to both of you! . . . . me, I would have been praying for mule trains, but thats just me:-)