The Grand Canyon has Become the White Whale for Runners Across the Globe
Less that one percent of the six-million tourists that visit the Grand Canyon traverse the rim to rim challenge. However, of those that do take on this intriguing goal, it is certainly one for the record book. Ultramarathon runners dream of achieving such a feat, since it is such a difficult and unpredictable trek.
Going Rim to Rim
This challenge includes roughly twenty-one miles and a vertical gain of 5,700 feet and a 4,700 decent one way.
However, it’s not enough to make it back from the bottom of the canyon once. This challenge is only completed when the runner completes the trek twice.
This, along with altitude and temperature factors is what makes the Rim to Rim Challenge the most difficult single-day run in the United States.
“There are very few other examples of that type of geography,” says Rob Krar, an ultrarunner who set the R2R2R FKT record of 6:21:47. “Where else in the world do you start a run where you drop 5,000 feet in elevation? Mentally and physically, it is incredibly demanding.”
Only runners can truly understand the drive to complete this challenge, while all competitors can appreciate the accomplishment.
Fastest Known Time
Now, if the Rim to Rim Challenge isn’t enough of an accomplishment, runners have added something extra: time restraints.
In addition to completing the challenge, competitors are also competing for the fastest known time (FKT).
Currently, the FKT for the Grand Canyon is two hours, thirty-nine minutes and thirty-eight seconds. This was accomplished by Tim Freriks on October 1, 2017.
The FKT for women is three hours, nineteen minutes, and twenty-three seconds. This was accomplished by Alicia Vargo on November 8, 2017.
However, there are other competitors who have gone rim to rim multiple times, amassing an amazing amount of time, spent running.
In summation, the Rim to Rim Challenge is one that truly embodies the human spirit. It’s a positive, exciting accomplishment, that many could never dream of accomplishing. That is why it is such a challenge and such a feat to surmount.
To anyone who does decide to try this challenge, be careful, be safe, and have fun.