I'm doing the Grand 2 Grand Ultra on Sept 22nd.
How far will you be running? 169 Miles from the Grand Canyon (northern rim) to the Grand staircase (1 hr outside of Las Vegas) www.g2gultra.com
Are you crazy? Yes
How Long will this take you? I don't know but they give me seven days with 12 hours each day. I'm pretty sure I'll be using most of that time. I'm shooting for 8 hour marathons but that will be a stretch. It's mostly upmountain and it's high elevation. So more likely 9-10 hours a day. Might even be 11 or 12. I'll just have to wait and see.
Are you really running the whole thing? No way. I power walk up the hills, I run down the hills and I do a run/walk shuffle thing on the flats. The fastie fasts do run the whole thing (but even some of them hike and walk) -- they are competing to win -- I'm just trying to stay alive.
How much does your backpack weigh? Right now it is at 20 lbs (excluding water). I would like to get it lighter but my desire to eat food is kind of getting in the way. If I want to eat it, wear it or sleep on it, I have to carry it. They supply water.
What is is your backpack? Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, down jacket, shirt and pants to wear at night, basic toiletries, medical kit, 7 days worth of food.
Aren't you afraid of snakes? Yes.
Will you have a cell phone? No cell phones allowed.
What if you get lost? If? Do you even know me? Of course I'll get lost. But I'll have a map, a compass and they mark the course. If I keep my eyes open I should stay on course. And my goal is to try to be fast enough to keep someone on the horizon. That may not happen. Then when I do get lost, I will most likely run my fastest to find my way back to the course (that's what happened in the Sahara so I suspect it will happen here). It's absolutely amazing how fast you can run when your life depends on it!
Can you get left behind? Well i'm sure I could if they don't like me or something but they have riders on horseback trailing the last runner (most likely me) so if I go really off course they should find me. They also have all terrain vehicles and radio communications so if they don't see me within a reasonable amount of time, hopefully they will come look for me. I am not anticipating this to be a problem.
How does this compare to the other race you did in the Sahara, MDS? Well, it is the same format (self-supported stage). MDS had over 1,000 racers, this one has 122. I think this will not as hot (Sahara was in the 100s and I think this will be in the 80's) But this has more elevation (we end up near 9,000 feet with about 18,000+ feet of elevation gain over the course). This will have a lot of sand as did MDS but I think the dunes were a wee bit higher in the Sahara. But 30% of this is running in the sand and that is hard (if you have ever run on the soft sand of the beach or did that race at Alcatraz you'lll know what i mean). And I think I'll be doing a lot more rock scrambling in this one. Sigh, I don't really like rock climbing.
How much have you been training? I started in late January after my parents passed away. I started slow in the gym doing spin classes and pilates and power walking with hand weights (that seems sooo long ago). By May I was doing spinning, power walking and running/hiking about 15 hrs a week. In June I went to training camp in the Tetons where it started to get real -- that was hard -- up and over the Teton Pass and back plus more (but met some awesome people). That's when I added the backpack. Ugh I cannot wait to ditch that thing. For most of July and August I've been doing about 50-65 miles a week mostly with my backpack. I do close to a marathon every Friday. I also do some yoga, a little spinning on my bike, lots of stretching. I also try to do situps, pushups, wall squats and whatever other torture my coach gives me (I have a great coach). I have to admit that I have not done enough of everything -- life does get in the way. It sounds like a lot but I don't feel like I'm in fantastic shape or anything. I will say this, I do feel strong. Not fast, but strong. And I've not had a single injury during all of my training (knock on wood).
Are you scared? Scared is not the right word. I'm worried that I might not make it to the end of day 1. If I make it through day 1 I'll be thrilled. And then we will just take it one day at a time - one step at a time. But not finishing day 1 would really stink. As long as I can keep the blisters away and not get altitude sickness and stay injury free, I think I have the determiniation to finish. I just don't know if I can be fast enough. And all I can do is try. One foot after another and find a way. Inch by Inch....
What is the long stage? The long stage is day 3 and we have 30 hours to do about 53 miles. The fast kids will run straight through the night to get it done. For me, I will probably sleep a little. I imagine I will run until 10 or 11 at night. Hopefully find a water station where I can roll out my sleeping bag and sleep 4 or 5 hours and then get up and finish. Although that said, if I am doing well and nothing hurts, I will keep going. We will just have to see. I have required headlamp to run with. I anticipate several hours of night-time running. But that also happens to fall on my birthday so I may feel super empowered to keep going.
What about showering? We don't. It will be what my mother used to call "bird bath" style.
What about going the bathroom? This race is "fancy." They will have porta johns at the camp site but during the day we will make use of the great outdoors. (In the Sahara they dug a hole in the ground, put a shower curtain up and said have at it!) But above all we have to be respectful of the environment. No littering allowed.
Why Abundant Waters? They are kids in my neighborhood in NYC who don't have the same opportunities that I did. It is a small organization, I like the fact that there is not a lot of overhead with fancy marketing campaigns and big salaries. The money goes to tutors, supplies, musica, arts, sports and taking them on outings. I can see my money going to something powerful and useful.
How much of the money raised goes to fund your race? ZERO! I don't take a penny of my fundraising money for myself. Every cent goes to Abundant Waters and I don't use it for entry fees or supporting my race in anyway. I also don't take compensation from Abundant Waters for my work for them throughout the year getting other athletes to run and be part of other events. That's my charity work. This is my charity run. Its for kids who will thrive with our support and I like the idea that I can do something concrete to help them .
If there are no further questions, it's time to RUMBLE!!!