Friday, 14 March 2014

Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim - Super Hero Edition

Pre-Rim2Rim2Rim at 5:30am

One of the biggest perks of being an ultra runner is that it allows us to get deeper into beautiful landscapes in shorter spaces of time. A great example is the Grand Canyon, a place most tourists only see from the rim but a runner can cover from one side to the other and back in a day.

The fastest route chosen by those aiming to set a fast time is about 42 miles with 11,000ft of ascent, plus the same descent, using the South Kaibab Trail then going up to the North Rim and back to the same point. I hadn't seen much previously except the South Rim so went along a marginally longer route going down the South Kaibab Trail but coming back via the Bright Angel Trail, making it closer to 45 miles.

Like many ultrarunners the Rim2Rim2Rim route was a bucket list run for me and it lived up to expectations. I ran with Sean Meissner, who paced me at Leadville and Wasatch last year. A few days before the run I saw a photo of Sean online at a recent race in an, umm, disturbing Superman costume so suggested he wear that through the canyon while I wear my old Spiderman costume (here it was the last time I used it). We were also joined by David Sooter and John Moore who didn't get the memo about wearing something stupid :)

Here's a selection of photos highlighting the beauty of the Grand Canyon. A great day by all accounts and virtually dawn to dusk on trails. This was the route.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Mt Diablo Videos

Mt Diablo in the background along Shell Ridge, from my run yesterday

I'm using Mt Diablo in the Easy Bay of the San Francisco area as my main training area for hills currently and today was my tenth ascent of the year. It's about a 3,500ft net ascent from the trail head, although today I went on a longer route that racked up about 4,400ft in the steepest 13 miles. I thought I'd try out my Go Pro too, expecting the footage to be vomit-inducing. It is, but still a fun experiment. This is the route I used.

Since running uphill is extremely undramatic and looks very slow in video, I chose a few short downhills and one flat section. None of the technical sections since I had to run them holding a camera out in my hand, but I did move at a decent pace with speeds kept between 3:20/mile and 4:30/mile in the videos except the flatter section close to Juniper Campground.

Enjoy the roller-coaster - don't worry, all the videos are short, but I think they prove that carrying a camera while running only works if you're JB Benna and have an elaborate set-up on a stick (you'll know what I mean if you've seen him filming or have seen his work in 'Unbreakable').

Firstly, a section on the Summit Trail very near the top and through an area that was burnt last year (all around 4:30/mile pace):

Then half-way between the summit and Juniper Campground (low 4:00/mile pace):

A flatter section along from Juniper Campground (7:00-8:00/mile pace):

Finally the Widowmaker climb below Juniper Campground, in reverse (3:20-4:00/mile pace):

I know that anyone watching these is probably hoping for a dramatic fall, but I'll save that for next time and get some cash from America's Funniest Home Videos, or whatever that show's called.

Also, here's an article about downhill technique that I wrote a while ago but that fits in with this subject matter. No shaky videos.