Some adventures require a little something extra. Whether that’s an audacious goal, great friends, a stellar crew or a coach ensuring you, you’re capable of great things – it’s the combination of all the little things, that make the grandest of adventures possible.
This was certainly the case for me a couple weeks ago.
The iconic double crossing of The Grand Canyon – The Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R) – is a route I hadn’t had the chance to complete until recently. I had run a handful of times in the Grand Canyon, mostly on the South Rim, but running to the North Rim and back in one shot was a serious run, and one on my bucket list. To make matters more interesting, I wanted to add a multi-sport aspect to this already epic route – riding my bike from the biggest hole in Arizona, to the biggest hump in Arizona, Mount Humphreys Peak, then switching to my running shoes to summit the 12,600ft volcano. If you’ve heard of the “Hole to Hump” route, my adventure plan was a bit more daring – adding in the double crossing of the canyon instead of the typical down to the river and back up the canyon again, – and with a bit more reason – riding (instead of running) the 70 mile stretch between the Grand Canyon and Mount Humphreys. But still, it was a pretty big plan, and since it only scared me a little bit, I knew it was worth doing. I planned to do it in two or three days considering weather and my energy levels. You can check out the full route details on Komoot, in my latest collection where I’ve detailed the entire journey with maps and pictures.
Some may be wondering why I went through so much trouble to make the trip to Arizona when I have perfectly good trails in my home of Colorado. The answer for me is simple: why not? Of course, the purpose of this multi day adventure wasn’t all for nothing. I prefer to use big routes as a means of training. Adventure is the ideal preparation for the unknown and running back and forth across a big ditch seemed like the perfect training ground in my lead up to Madeira Island Ultra Trail, a 115km ultra distance race, traversing the Island of Madeira, Portugal, while climbing over 7,100 meters (23,000ft) in the process. What better venue for such a run than one of the seven natural wonders of the world?
The point of these multi-day trips is less about the time it takes to do them, and more about the experiences gathered along the way. Wondering if a route plan is possible is part of the fun – whether it’s the length, potential route finding in a new location, the amount of vertical relief or an unknown distance that scares you, planning something that tests your limits is what allows you to break through them. Even though I do multi day travel in new places quite frequently, I’m still amazed by what I learn about myself each time I complete them.
This trip was no different, and as worked through the low moments out there on the trail, even relishing those moments, tucking them away as a reminder to my inner strength, the most rewarding piece from this Arizona adventure was being joined along the way. To start, my teammate Rob Krar debriefed and assisted me with the route, walking me through what was in store. His wife Christina, then planned a feast for us upon our return – talk about motivation to finish what we had set out to do!
The beginning miles of the run were shared with my good friends Lizi and Elise, as we dropped into the canyon beneath a full moon. I then made new friends running up the North Rim and was reunited with my crew as we made our way back to the South Rim where Maxx, my boyfriend and one-man crew was waiting with food and recovery drinks.
Maxx joined me the next day to ride from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Mount Humphreys while Lizi and Elise crewed us. We all camped together near the trail head and hit the trail first thing in the morning each of us doing our own trail run, and me charging for summit. While we ate dinner with Rob and Christina that evening, I realized just how much I love these adventures – not for the suffering, but for the connection it creates.
So, even though my “Hole to Hump” route took its own special type of TUE to complete, the Trails, U’ffda and Enthusiasm I found out there wouldn’t have meant as much if it wasn’t shared with those I love.