Jeff's Run Report

Crossing the Colorado River
I haven't posted anything before now about R2R2R4H because it has taken some time for everything to sink in. We all agreed that the experience was sensory overload. I lost track of the number of times that I tried to make a mental note of something that I wanted to tell my family about or share in a race report. I will do my best here but the Grand Canyon must be experienced first hand to be truly appreciated. I'm not saying that everyone should do rim to rim to rim but get yourself ready and then get dirty by hiking into it. The majority of the people on the tour buses never step foot on the trail and will never know all that it has to offer.

This is not a normal race report because it wasn't a race. I'm not going to give you mile splits or times that it took us to cover certain segments. Sure, we could have cut time from the start to finish but that would mean missing some pictures and videos, regrouping and sharing stories with each other, and taking in all of the magnificent views. Our single goal was to travel from rim to rim to rim under 24 hours. Also, keep in mind, that this is not an organized event with aid stations and people to support or help you along the way. We traveled into the canyon on our own and had to carry all of our own food and water. There were only a few spots in the canyon to get more water. Otherwise, we were responsible for taking care of ourselves and each other and climbing out. The only contingency plan was to spend about $4,500 on a helicopter rescue out which wasn’t in any of our budgets.

This adventure was more of a process than a single event. It involved so many variables, some of which we could control while others were out of our control. The ones we could control included the planning, preparation (physically and mentally), fueling, gear, strategy, and execution. One of the variables that couldn't be controlled was injury. When you plan a trip like this with six team members, the odds of someone having an injury is pretty high. This holds true even with a team of accomplished endurance athletes. Lee Meyer was the member of the team that had a partial tear of his plantar fascia that derailed a lot of his training and would prevent him from finishing the full distance. Lee started with us and made it almost to Cottonwood, 15 miles in, before turning back. Although disappointed, he made the best decision for himself and the team.

We experience beauty beyond your imagination that few have experienced firsthand in one single day. We saw massive canyon walls that were formed over millions of years, crossed over the powerful Colorado River, ran through tunnels cut in the canyon walls, watched the sun rise and set, forged across an icy cold stream, walked under waterfalls, hiked through the snow on the north rim, felt a 60 degree temperature change throughout the day, smelled cactus flowers blooming (we also smelled a lot of mule poop, too!), and heard all kinds of wildlife from bird calls to bullfrogs.

The beauty of the canyon and all that it has to offer was partially overshadowed by the friendships that were made or strengthened during our trip. One example was that Lee came back to the top of the south rim after he finished and waited for three hours for Steve, Vishal, and Dom to finish. Then, he waited another hour for John and me to arrive. He was yelling at me "Rodgers...sprint it out" when were moving what felt like a snails pace trying to climb up the seemingly endless switchbacks towards the end. (He knew it was us from my bright Nightrider lighting system). He brought chocolate donuts AND had the car at the trail head so we wouldn't have to walk another quarter mile back to the lodge.

Each member of the team impressed me on this day. Everyone had a positive attitude and was so supportive of each other. It is a team that was successful in so many ways from covering 50k to 50 miles to raising $8,500 (and climbing) for Operation Rainbow and the people of Haiti. I'm sure there will be another adventure for us in the future. For now, it is time for us to take care of our bodies and recover, spend time with our loved ones, and savor this victory without worrying about our next race or event (for a few days anyway).

To close this report, I'd like to thank each of you for your support along the way, the team for coming together and making a difference in so many people's lives, Beth and Brian Tavares for the great design work (people were trying to buy our shirts from us in the canyon!), Sherrie, my wife, for believing in me to do Rim to Rim to Rim and safely return home, and my kids, Cole and Kayleigh, for inspiring me to do my best.

Jeff Rodgers
Team R2R2R4H

Courtney  – (June 15, 2010 at 6:10 PM)  

This is so impressive and very inspiring! Thanks for sharing your story. I love the video! You guys are amazing!

Courtney Navarro

Steve  – (June 16, 2010 at 6:58 AM)  

Thanks for checking in, Courtney. It was a great trip! Highly recommended!

-Steve Emmert

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