A 170 mile self supported stage race from the north rim of the Grand Canyon to the Grand Staircase at Bryce Canyon.
by Nicky Chrascina
This is the third stage race I have completed, the first being Marathon Des Sables, then Trans Britain Ultra.
Race head quarters were in the lovely little Utah town of Kanab. An area renowned for its walking trails, national parks and gateway to many many fantastically stunning places. Being Utah, they had some weird alcohol laws too. Probably not a bad thing as we geared up for the event.
A couple of days before the race, we were all put through race kit check, bag weigh ins etc. With a list of compulsory equipment, minimum daily calorie allowance etc this was quite a big day. I failed my first check as I had left my second head torch on charge in my hotel room!!! My name appeared on the board of shame!
Day before D day we were bussed out to the north rim where camp had been set up. Decent tents which slept 8. Porta loos, hand washing facilities and a view to die for. Not a tourist in site - just us and the Grand Canyon. We met our allocated tent mates, discussed tactics and got to know each other. Only 7 in our tent, so slightly more space than most. Dinner was fantastic - last catered meal before we moved onto space food. A few of us had brought some beer along so we sat on the rim, chilling and waiting for the sun to set. Perfect!
The next 7 days involved running various distances ranging from 9 miles to 52 miles in heat, rain, desert sand dunes, gorse, mountains, slot canyons etc. It was totally stunning and totally exhausting. I developed a few blisters that had to be lanced and patched up at least twice a day. We saw a couple of snakes, but not rattlers, like some of the participants had encountered.
The long day was horrendous. We started on a steep vertical which required scrambling up rocks etc then scrambling down. Long hilly passes, miles and miles of sand tracks and then at 3 o clock in the morning, worn out, tired and ready to chuck it all in, the dreaded sand dunes. Around 20 of the darn things. Steep with VERY soft sand, the only way to tackle them was on hands and knees. One step forward and two slips back. Exhausting and soul destroying. The CP at the end of this couldn't have come soon enough. At the last CP of this stage I vividly remember telling my friend Eve, to never ever let me enter a staged race again. That didn't last long, did it?
The finish was amazing. A mere 9 mile run (fun run) virtually all up hill - people know how much I love hills! But what an amazing view. We were given ice cold sodas, mountains of pizza and fresh fruit at the end. - bliss. After a week of gopping freeze dried muck and pot noodle!
I did really enjoy this event. I was in Tent Tewa and we a happy band of runners. The scenery was stunning, organisation perfect and a race I highly recommend to those wanting an adventure. So so much better (and harder) than MDS.
Nicky crossing the finish line 🙂