Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 25th, 2012 - 2nd Annual Memorial Weekend Grand Canyon Single Crossing - NEW RECORD!!

Last year on Memorial Weekend was my first attempt at  GC Single Crossing record. Though I failed to hit the mark, my buddy Jared Scott had a solid day and lowered the 30 year old record previously held by Allyn Cureton by 37sec to 3hrs 6min 10sec. The whole experience was a blast.. so we decided to do it again...

That brings us to this year.....

Course:  We started from the N.Kaibab trail head  located at ~8,000 ft on N Rim.  This traildrop s us 4,800 ft to Cottonwood Campground in about 7miles.  From there, the Kaibab Trail guides you across the Canyon to Phantom Ranch and over the Colorado River.  During this section, you travel over a rolling 8miles that has a net drop of 1,100 feet which takes you through Phantom and across the Colorado River.  You then hit the S. Kaibab trail. This trail is about 7miles long and brings you up to the S Rim by climbing 4,800 feet. 

This year Jared and I were joined by Rob Krar and Ace Baty.  Rob ran the North to South route with us, while Ace ran the South to North version... By splitting the group, this saved us needing a "shuttle" driver and we were able to just swap vehicles.. - - BIG THANKS to Ace for agreeing to go the other direction!!!

As "race" time approached, admittedly, I was trying to think of a strategy that would give me an opportunity to win the day.  This was not easy.  Jared & Rob have been traveling all over the country crushing trail races and course records as they battle for the La Sportiva Cup.  Seriously, Google these guys'results.. they are killing it right now.

I am in pretty good shape, but I have been migrating my training towards building strength for the 50miles distance. My fear was that these guys were going to leave me as if I were standing still on the section from Cottonwood to S. Kaibab. - - So my plan was to make them work from the gun and hope that I could "out strength them". I also thought that if I could make them work the down hill hard enough that I might be able to bleed some of that speed out of their legs such that I could at least keep them in sight on the rolling / flat parts. Then it would come down to digging deep up S. Kaibab where I would hope to be able to close any gap before we got to the top.

Before we knew, it was time to run. After a quick warmup / stretch, etc, we were off right at 5:30am. I led Jared & Rob down the first few miles like the grand marshal of a parade - - nice & easy.  After the first mile or so, I said to myself.. "time to make it hurt", and I started accelerating down the rocky, sandy trail.  As I hopped over waterboards and slid around corners, I quickly put a 30second gap on Jared and Rob.  After about 3miles, I pulled back the reins just a hair so that I didn't blow my quads to pieces.  As such, Jared & Rob quickly closed the gap and 25min into the descent, Jared grabbed the lead.

From there, I pulled back just a bit more as I knew we were flying and it was just too early to go that fast. When I did that, Rob ripped by me.  No messing around today..we are running hard.

As I rolled into Cottonwood Campground, I can see Jared & Rob pulling out.. My watch says - - 46:20.  WOW!!..That's about 3min faster than I thought it would be.  (I learned after that Rob's split was 46:13 and Jared's even a little faster.)  I quickly refilled my water bottle.. now it was time to run... fast!

As we rolled our way towards the S.Rim, these guys gapped me worse than David Letterman's teeth.  Eventually, I lost sight of them around the constant twists and turns of the trail. I kept having to reassure myself that this run isn't decided until we start climbing S Kaibab.. so Don't Panic.. Just Run Hard!!

Since Garmin's don't work on most ofthe bottom section of the Canyon, I wasn't sure exactly what pace I was running, but it felt somewhere in the neighborhood of 6min/mile to 6:20min/mile. Plenty fast considering the climb we had coming up.  - - On some of the open sections, I would catch glimpses of Jared & Rob..Jared had a slight lead and they were both rolling!!..

As I got close to Phantom, I had gotten to a point where I was tired of dealing with a case of wicked stomach "pressure". I had been pushing through the discomfort, but as I rolled into Phantom, I was forced to make a pit stop in the restroom - - damn it!. This ends up costing me 2min total.. but it was worth it.  Afterwards, I felt awesome!.
After the pit stop and refilling my water bottle, I was in for another surprise.. Trail Maintenance and a Detour. Oh crap!!.. At this point, I am really hoping that the detour is short.  After quickly zipping through the detour, I am back on the main trail - - I don't think this cost us more than 30sec.. so not a big deal.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I look over the long view of the trail and hope to catch a glimpse of Jared & Rob...Sure enough, there they were working the lower sections of the climb. Jared still had a slight lead.. and they appeared to have about a 3min lead on me.  At that point, I am thinking that it's going to be a tough gap to close, but if I have a solid climb up S. Kaibab I will close the space quickly. 

As I approach the bridge, I see my old nemesis.. the Mule Train.  Thank goodness this was the only one we would see all day.  It cost me about 30seconds (talking with Rob &Jared afterwards - - it cost them about 90seconds).  Once again, not a big deal..

I came across the bridge and started the climb.  At this point, my watch read 1hr 39min 25sec, so my split for the 8mile section from Cottonwood to this point was 53min 4sec.  Consideringall the stops, I was happy with the time and I was starting to feel confident that I had a shot to break 3hrs.  I told myself.. "if I break 3hrs,... I should win".  So there it was.. Time to close that gap!  - - (Rob & Jared came through at 1hr 36min 37sec, split= 50min 24sec).

Steadily, I started pushing my way up S Kaibab.  Every now and then I would see Jared & Rob and each time they looked strong.  I couldn't believe how fast these guys were running.  I felt really solid, but I was working and I wasn't making up any time.   
Before I knew it, I was coming into the Midway switchbacks.  At this point, I could see Jared & Rob..not only were they getting closer, but both of them were hiking.  This gave me hope and belief that I may be able to catch these guys.  I started really hammering this section.  I was drooling.. spitting..growling.. I must have sounded like a wounded animal as I past the multitudes of hikers.. but I didn't care at this point, all I wanted was to gain some more ground.

As I came out of the Midway switchbacks onto Skeleton Point, I started to push the flattest section of the ascent. I couldn't see Rob, but I could see Jared and he seemed to be struggling. Since he is my bud, I was sad to see him fall off pace so drastically. I definitely wanted to catch him, but I was also hoping that he would go with me so we could push the last sections together.

Making up chunks of time, I passed Jared as we pushed towards Cedar Ridge which is about 1.5miles from the finish. I gave him the old "come on man" .. and he responded with a mellow, "looks like I blew my wod".. I asked him how far Rob was ahead and he said he thought he was at about 6min up.  What theF?!!!.. How did that happen?.. I thought maybe the heat was getting to Jared.. or Rob was simply crushing it.

As I hit Cedar Ridge, I looked at my watch and I knew if I ran solid the rest of the way, I would be under 3hrs. I kept the pace consistent and closed out the section with a solid pace.  Coming into the final switchbacks, I could hear Rob yelling and howling... Looking at my watch, I thought it might be close.. so I just started throwing down.  Once again, I was drooling.. spitting..and grunting.

Forcing my way to the kiosk, I touched the structure... and stopped my watch.  2hrs 58min 50sec.  (Split from the River = 1hr 19min 25sec.)  I had broken the previous record by over 7min!!.., but I was over 7min off of Rob's new record of 2hrs 51min 28sec.   Jared finished shortly after I did in a time of 3hrs 3min10sec (3min faster than the previous record!!)

As Rob told me his time, I just shook my head.... that is FAST!!!..  2hrs 51min 28sec.. WOW!!

Sitting at the kiosk, covered in dust& sweat, we looked back over to the North Rim across the very trail we had just run.  The view was amazing.  Then, glowing with sense of accomplishment, we congratulated each other and walked our way back to Ace's vehicle.  What an amazing day.

Splits - Jason
NRim to Cottonwood        46min 20sec
Cottonwood to River         53min 4sec
River to SRim                   1hr 19min 25sec
Total Time                        2hrs 58min 50sec

Splits - Rob (Record Splits)
NRim to Cottonwood        46min 13sec
Cottonwood to River        50min 24sec
River to SRim                  1hr 14min 51sec
Total Time                       2hrs 51min 28sec


  1. hey guys. another epic one. keep tearing it up...

  2. Huge congrats!!

    What date are you looking at attempting the Rim to rim to rim record in October? Is this still in the works?

  3. Thanks Johnny... Sorry for the delay. Definitely still looking at the R2R2R. Looking like Oct 19th.

  4. Right on!I'm trying to recruit a few runners from down here in San Diego to do the R2R2R around then. I'm going to aim for the 19th so that I can say I was there when the record is broken again. Stay healthy!