The Stats: 21 miles with 12,000 elevation change in 5:06 (South Rim to North Rim at Grand Canyon)
The Story: I changed my original plans and decided to pick up the pace for the run. In the 10 days since I last checked the weather, the forecast for Phantom Ranch (the bottom of the Canyon) had ballooned to 105 for Sunday. I also felt pretty damn good and my carbo-load was great. I packed in more than 4,000 calories a day with at least 80% from carbs.
I left at 5:30 and pretty much killed it from the get-go. I only stopped for one pic on my decent. Passed about 40 people on the trail. Most seemed to want to talk despite the fact I was screaming downhill. I hit a gel at 45 minutes, then ran into the mule train right before the bridge tunnel. I walked behind them for 5 minutes before they noticed me, eventual we came to a spot with enough space to walk slowly around them. Hit Phantom Ranch in 1:01.
After 2 minutes to refill one of my handhelds I set back off. I was surprise to see at the next mile marker that the North Rim was only 13.4 miles from Phantom Ranch. I had it in my head it was 15+ miles. This stretch sees a lot of rolling hill on a gradual incline, so my pace fell off, but I was still hoofing along at a decent clip. I saw a couple of King Snakes in this section. I hit another gel at 1:30. The rolling hills started to get to me a bit and I got the beginnings of cramp in my right quad. I convinced myself that the cramp wasn’t going to be bad. It was merely the aftermath of slamming down the South Kaibab mixed with the lactic acid that my compression socks were sending up from my calves. I pounded the water. Hit Cottonwood Campgrounds at 2:10. Pissed, refilled a water bottle, then I was on my way.
I kinda forgot the Pump House is so close to Cottonwood, so I was shocked to get there in 2:28. I spend 5 minutes getting water and doing the math in my head. I had 5.5 miles and about 4,500 feet of vert left. I knew that realistically that was gonna be at least an hour and a half. Still, considering the FKT (Fastest Known Time) for this course is just over 3 hours, I’d take a 4-hour finish.
About 30 minutes into the run up things started going south. My right quad was getting worse with every step and I was getting light-headed. I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t eating enough AND I had actually drank too much water. I regretted not taking salt tabs with me, because my electrolytes were clearly all fucked up. I quickly downed 2 gels and that seemed to right the ship. I started a 10 minute/3 minute run-walk combo at this point in a effort to save my quad.
I hit Roaring Springs at 3:20. It took me about 50 minutes to go 2.5 miles. Needless to say a 4-hour finish was out of the question. But in all honesty, I was in pretty bad shape and it was now getting pretty hot. I was kinda in survival mode.
The running stopped all together and I was essentially just power hiking. I could feel the energy slipping away and I again pounded 2 gels, but they didn’t last long because I started puking a little while later. It was all water. My quad was now more painful than anything I had experienced during my running “career”.
I trudged along and don’t think anyone would mistake what I was doing for a “power hike”. I ran into a park volunteer who was helping someone who was in really bad shape. I would normally see if there was anything I could do, but honestly I was kinda scared about finishing this myself. I just kinda grunted at both of them.
Made it over the bridge and through the Supai Tunnel in 4:04. Supai was 1.7 miles from the top, so I had gone just 1.3 miles in 44 minutes. This sucked! I refilled my bottle and continued with the death march.
The rest is a total blur. I pretty much faded in and out for the rest of the way, making frequent stops. I snapped to near the top when someone told me the trailhead was about a tenth of mile ahead.
Finished in 5:06. Took me an hour and 2 minutes to “hike” the final 1.7 miles.
The worst running experience of my life. I’m gonna stick to road marathons for awhile.