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Jesi (left) Michael (right)

On July 5, 2019, we attempted to run Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim (SK->NK->SK) in one day. This trip had been on my bucket list for many years. I started running in 2010. After nine years of running and had completed many races from 50K to 50-miler as well as one 100K, and one 100-miler distances, I finally had a chance to plan a self-support event. With that said, Jesi and I completed Grand Canyon South Kaibab rim to North Kaibab rim to South Kaibab (R2R2R). A total of 46 miles in 24 hours and 10 minutes.

Here is our story of R2R2R and lesson learned from this awesome and yet challenging experiences. Self-Disclaimer: These are my opinions and suggestions, however, I hope this will help anyone that hasn’t been to the canyon as you are preparing for an R2R2R.

Planning: I started to plan this trip early January 2019 but work-life balance got busy so I didn’t finalize my plan until May 31, 2019. We started with 6 friends but ended with just two of us. 3 days before the trip, my friend decided that he wasn’t going to make the trip. I had a choice… do a solo R2R2R or tried to find another friend to go. I texted Jesi and did a lot of persuasions as well as to cover the trip expenses. He agreed but wasn’t really like to run any distance more than 50K. We also decided not to fly there because the flight tickets were too expensive. Thus, I canceled my flight, car rental. Then, book a new car rental.
Our plan was as follow:
* 3-JUL-2019: Drive from Dublin, CA to Grand Canyon Yavapai Lodge  (750 miles, 12 hours)
* 4-JUL-2019: Check-in hotel, check out South Kaibab parking location & Trailhead
* 5-JUL-2019: Start 3 AM and hike/run until we finished
* 6-JUL-2019: Drive back home (750 miles, 12 hours)

3-JUL and 4-JUL went as planned

5-JUL: R2R2R Event Day:
We woke up at 2 AM, ate breakfast, and left the lodging at 2:45 AM. We got to the South Kaibab Trailhead and parked our car there. Our plan was to park at High 64. There were parking spots and was .8 mile walk to SK Trailhead but we changed our plan and took a chance. Lesson learned: Do not park at SK Trailhead. Thank god that the park ranger didn’t tow our car but we got a big letter written on the back windshield of our car said “CAR WILL BE TOWED” when we got back to SK trailhead.

At 3:00 AM, the weather was cool between 50 and 60 degrees. No jack needed. Once we started to head down SK Trailhead, we use the checkpoint (CP) to ensure we were on the right trails. I used the Petzl headlamp and Jesi used Kogalla RA Adventure light that I borrowed from our running friends, Michele. For me, the Petzl headlamp worked fine with a single charge for the early morning down SK as well as the battery lasted from 8:30 PM to 3:00 AM when we returned back to SK. I carried an extra battery pack just in case.
CP0: 3:00 AM: South Kaibab Trailhead (0 miles)
CP1: 3:26 AM: Ooh Aah Point
CP2: 3:45 AM: Cedar Ridge
CP3: 4:20 AM: Skeleton Point
CP4: 5:01 AM: Tipoff (Restroom avail)
CP5: 5:44 AM: Black Bridge
CP6: 6:02 AM: Phantom Ranch (Food/water/restroom avail)
CP7: 9:01 AM: Cottonwood Campground (water/restroom avail)
CP8: 9:46 AM: Manzanita (water/restroom avail)
CP9: 11:47 AM: Supai Tunnel (water avail)
CP10: 1:14 PM: North Kaibab Trailhead (water avail)/(22.7 miles)

When I got to NK, I was really low on energy and vomited multiple times between Manzanita to NK. We decided to take two hours rest before head back to SK. Do you believe there are angels look over you? I believe so while we were resting at NK Trailhead.
My condition was as follow:
* Due to tap water, even with my water filter bottle, my stomach was not having it but I forced myself to eat a little bit of bread and drank a little bit of water
* I had the pig vomit taste in the mouth and felt cramps in both legs
As we were resting at NK Trailhead, a boy named Chris, from China & his family finished their hikes. Chris started talking to Jesi and I. Then, his parents and grandparents brought some food from their car to NK Trailhead. His dad shared the watermelon with us. OMG, that was a life saver. After eating the watermelon, we both felt better. Thank you to our first angel!
As we were continuing resting, we saw many people finishing their hikes. It was now about 3:00 PM and we got ready to leave NK Trailhead but my stomach issue didn’t get better. As I looked around and saw one of the hikers was holding a beer. I looked at him and said, “Could I buy a beer from you?”. Before he could reply back to me, his friend named Joe & another friend finished their hikes. He asked Joe about my request to purchase a beer from him. Joe replied back to me “No, we just want to be a good neighbor. We share a beer with you” OMG, that was another life saver for me. I walked with Joe to his car and shared a beer with him. That IPA beer cleared my stomach issues and I was back to normal immediately. I got my full energy back. Thank you to our second angel!

At around 3:05 PM, we headed back from NK to SK. Since we did all the timing at each checkpoint from SK to NK, we decided no more photo or recording because we wanted to get back to Phantom Ranch before they close the canteen. We walked, jogged, & ran as fast as we can. We got to Phantom Ranch around 8:20 PM. The PR close at 10 PM. Thus, we decided to stay there until they closed.

While at the PR, we had two lemonades, ate our sack lunch, and chatted with few people. I had another light beer to ensure I didn’t have any stomach issue. We chatted with two people. They were the people in charge of the mule rides. A lot of great stories exchanged. One of the stories was about heat exhaustion while riding the mule down to PR. How do you get heat exhaustion by just riding the mule? Then, we got a chance to chat with a couple who rode the mules down to PR and plan to ride the mules back to SK. Did you know riding a mule down SK to PR was a challenge as you hike down? This is how the couple shared their mules experience with us.
1. Your life is depending on the mule you are riding on
2. When the mule made those switch-back turns, you were literally danging over the cliff!
Now, you understood why some mule riders got heat exhaustion and fainted because it was a scary ride turn-by-turns

At 10:00 PM, we left PR and started head back to SK Trailhead. My strategy was to take it easy and not to get cramps because once I got cramps, I will be done. There was one sign said “Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab: 4,700 feet elevation”. It took us 5 hours to reach SK Trailhead (3:10 AM on 6-JUL-2019). As soon as we get to our car, we saw the ranger left us a warning parking ticket and didn’t tow our car. Thank you to our third angel!

Overall, I should have canceled this trip with so many challenges and logistic changes. However, that is life. I did my planning, did my one month of training, and the rest was history. Thank you to Jesi for supporting me throughout this trip and it was a tough event because he didn’t train for it. Jesi got two big blisters on both of his toes but he finished strong while I was just glad I finished this event.

My experiences & suggestions:
1. Make a good plan from beginning to end. Do your researches and watch as many videos as you can
2. Train on your shoulders, arms, back, side-to-side abs, and a lot of plyometric bench/box exercises with 10 lbs to 20 lbs of weights
3. Event Day:
* Do not over-pack your hydration pack/hiking pack and carry things you need and not carry things in case of emergency
* Get good quality gears like hydration vest, water filter, poles, & hiking/trail running shoes
* Carry real food and not just snacks… in my case, two IPA beers
* For summer, buy ices at PR to put into your hydration pouch
* Have a lot of patients as you hike/run to each checkpoint
* Don’t park at South Kaibab Trailhead parking lot. It is for resident only. However, you can be dropped off at SK Trailhead. I believe you can park at High 64 but check with the park ranger. There are parking spots there. It is a .8 mile to SK Trailhead (10 minutes walk)
* When possible, have a support crew at the other end R2R(Crew)->2R. They will be your angels looking over you


July 2019 – Taper & Event days

Saturday, 6-Jul-2019 – Travel day

Friday, 5-Jul-2019 – Event day R2R2R (SK->NK, NK->SK)

Thursday, 4-Jul-2019 – Travel day

Wednesday, 3-Jul-2019 – Morning gym workouts (Plyo bench exercises)

Tuesday, 2-Jul-2019 – 5.1 miles evening run

Monday, 1-Jul-2019 – Morning gym workouts (Pull day + Plyo bench exercises)


Summary of June 2019 – Run and Gym workout Training

Runs:
* Total miles: 149.3 miles
* Total # of days: 20 of 30 days
* Shortest miles: 3.5 miles
* Longest miles: 20 miles (1), 15 miles (1), 13.8 miles (1)
* # of heat training days: 12 of 20 days | Heat: 90 ~ 99 degrees: 6 of 12 days

Gym workouts:
* Total # of days: 20 of 30 days
* Pull day: 14 of 20
* Push day: 6 of 20
* Plyo bench exercises: 4 of 20

Double workouts: Run + Gym = 12 of 30 days

ELB Recovery Sessions: 9 for 30 minutes each session


Detail of June 2019 – Run and Gym workout Training

Sunday, 30-Jun-2019 – Morning gym workouts (Pull day + Plyo bench exercises)

Saturday, 29-Jun-2019 – 3.5 miles morning run. 64-degrees

Friday, 28-Jun-2019 – Morning gym workouts (Pull day + Plyo bench exercises)

Thursday, 27-Jun-2019 -Morning gym workouts (Pull day – light workouts)

Wednesday, 26-Jun-2019 – Double workouts
* 5.95 miles evening run. 80-degrees
* Morning gym workouts (Pull day + Plyo bench exercises)

Tuesday, 25-Jun-2019 – Double workouts
* 5.15 miles evening run. 73-degrees
* Morning gym workouts (Push Day + Plyo bench exercises)

Monday, 24-Jun-2019 – Evening gym workouts (Pull Day)

Sunday, 23-Jun-2019 – Double workouts
* 7.8 miles afternoon run heat training. 95-degrees
* Morning gym workouts (Pull-Day)
ELB:
* Morning – 1 session for 30 minutes before the run
* Evening – ELB: 1 session for 30 minutes

Saturday, 22-Jun-2019 – Double Runs
* 4.3 miles morning run
* 9.5 miles evening run heat training. 93-degrees.
* ELB: 1 session for 30 minutes, 1 session for 10 minutes with level 9

Friday, 21-Jun-2019 – Morning gym workout (pull day)

Thursday, 20-Jun-2019 – Morning gym workouts (Push-Day)

Wednesday, 19-Jun-2019 – Double workouts
Morning gym workout (Pull Day) 
5.8 miles evening run heat training. 84-degrees

Tuesday. 18-Jun-2019 – Double workouts
5.1 miles evening run heat training. 87-degrees
Morning gym workout (Push-Day)

Monday, 17-Jun-2019 – Morning gym workout (Pull-Day)

Sunday, 16-Jun-2019 – 13 miles hill workout with 4179 ft elevation
* ELB: 1 session for 30 minutes, 1 session for 10 minutes with level 9

Saturday, 15-Jun-2019 – Volunteering at Brazen Double Dipsea race in Stinson beach
* ELB: 1 session for 30 minutes

Friday, 14-Jun-2019 20 miles from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach to Mt. Tam Summit and back to Mill Valley with 4,647ft elevation (hills workout)
* ELB: 1 session for 30 minutes, 1 session for 10 minutes – level 9

Thursday, 13-Jun-2019 – Double workouts
* 4.7 miles group run at Sports Basement in San Ramon
Morning gym workout (Pull Day)

Wednesday, 12-Jun-219 – Double workouts
* 6.5 miles group run heat training (94-degrees)
Morning gym workout (pull day)

Tuesday, 11-Jun-2019 – Double workouts
* 5.4 miles group run heat training (99 degrees)
Morning gym workout (Push-Day)

Monday, 10-Jun-2019 – Morning gym workout (Pull-Day)

Sunday, 9-Jun-2019 – Double workouts
6 miles heat training (95-degrees)
3.1 miles morning run
* ELB: 1 session for 30 minutes

Saturday, 8-Jun-2019 – 3.6 miles and then stayed outdoors for 9 hrs in 80-degrees for heat acclimation

Friday, 7-Jun-2019 – Double workouts
4.3 miles heat training. 78-degrees
Morning gym workout (Push day)

Thursday, 6-Jun-2019 – Morning gym workouts – Pull-Day

Wednesday, 5-Jun-2019 – 7.6-miler heat training run – 88-degrees

Tuesday, 4-Jun-2019 – 5-miler in 92-degree heat run (Livermore, CA)

Monday, 3-Jun-2019 – Morning gym workout – Push day; Night gym workout – Pull-Day

Sunday, 2-Jun-2019 – 8 miles hills run;  30 minutes swim, 1 hr gym workout, ELB: 2 sessions x 30 minutes

Saturday, 1-Jun-2019 – Started R3 training – 9 miles run, 6 miles heat run. Total 15 miles; ELB: 2 sessions – 10 minutes, 20 minutes

Friday, 31-May-2019 – Plan finalized. Booked flights, car rental, and hotel

Recovery using ELB: Elevated Leg Boots (ELB) 
* Use it after my run and helped to recover my legs faster. Base: Level 8 for 30 minutes | Level 9 for 10 minutes

Gym workouts:
Push day gym workout (T,Th, & weekend if I am not busy)
* Chest, Shoulder, back, triceps, biceps, Side-to-side Abs (S2S), lower abs
* Pull-ups with weights assisted
* 10 minutes to 15 minutes on the treadmill with max inclined (15); speed: 2.2 to 4.0; heart rates: 108 to 150
* Plyo box/bench exercises | Plyometric box exercises/variations

Pull day gym workout (M,W,F & weekend if I am not busy)
* Chest, shoulder, back, triceps, biceps, Side-to-side Abs (S2S), lower abs
* Pull-ups with weights assisted
* 10 minutes to 15 minutes on the treadmill with max inclined (15); speed: 2.2 to 4.0; heart rates: 108 to 150
* Plyo box/bench exercises | Plyometric box exercises/variations


Planning & Booking

Flight
* Southwest, OAK<->LAS

Hotel
* Yavapai Lodge, 2-nights

Car Rental
* Enterprise, Mid-size SUV from Dublin, CA

Phantom Ranch
* Reservation check availability/meal reserve
* Reserved a “sack lunch ($22 USD)” pickup (ID:13366818) at PR (Called 303-297-2757)


Research:

Maps:

  • Using RunGo App to map the route [Click Here]
  • Using Google Map App to map the parking to South Kaibab Trailhead – [Click here]
  • Using Strava App & found SK->NK route [Click Here]
  • Using Strava App & found NK->SK route [Click Here]
  • R2R2R GPX file (Jesi made this course map)

Watch Youtube

References:
* SK: South Kaibab
* NK: North Kaibab
* BA: Bright Angel
* PR: Phantom Ranch

Running gears
* Ultimate Direction Hardrocker Vest (Similar)
* 1.5 L pouch, 20 oz soft pouch with filter
* Diamond Peak poles
* Petzl Headlamps, Hat, Buffs, arm sleeves, Garmin 910-XT GPS watch
* Hat, sunglass, chapstick
* Two Tech-shirts, Tech-Short, windbreaker light jacket
* Calf sleeves, gaiters, smart wool socks, toe caps, Hoka One One Clifton 4 Shoes
* Space blanket, sunscreen, bug repeller, wipes,
* Basic first-aid kit, Tums, Motrin, Rash medicine, baby oil
* small knife, flashlight, iPhone battery chargers, extra batteries for headlamp
* iPhone, cash, credit card, driver license, emergency contacts
* Folding umbrella hat <–DIDN’T Used
* Small drop bag at Phantom Ranch

Running day nutrition (Every 4 hours)
* Real food (ham-&-cheese sandwich, PB&J, spaghetti-&-meatballs from Whole Foods)
* Bars
* Water
* GU Roctane Energy Drink (electrolyte+calories+caffeine)
* Tailwind (calories+sodium+calories)
* Hammer Premium Caps (multivitamin), Hammer Endurance BCAA+ (amino acid protein)
* Carbo-Pro Metasalt (Sodium)



Hotel: Yavapai Lodge


Highway 64 – .8 miles outside South Kaibab Trailhead. I am not 100% sure you could park there all day. Check with the park ranger.


Check Points


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