Over the next week or so I will be sharing with everyone a summary of a “Bucket List” accomplishment in my life. A double crossing of the Grand Canyon. What ultra runners call a R2R2R or R3. Whatever you call it, it’s a 46 mile journey the way we have planned by going down the Bright Angel Trail, across one of the great natural wonders of the world. For many ultra runners the R3 is the pinnacle. If properly planned the path is set up perfectly for those who are properly prepared. To me that’s going to be the key. “Preparation!” I have made a personal commitment to myself that I will be ready for anything in case my team, which includes my Ironman son-n-law Felix Ortega and daughter Nichole Ortega, need some physical or mental/emotional assistance.
I want to take a moment and step back to how this crazy idea came about. It really started in June of 2013. Felix had just completed an Ironman in Idaho. I had been doing 20K Trail Races, and have a long history of endurance races, including triathlons and marathons. Felix was looking for something different so that he could be motivated and use his Ironman conditioning to take on a new challenge. Well I had always thought of doing the Grand Canyon, but planning never worked out. I did happen to find a number ultra races, which are longer than a marathon, on a website Felix sent me, through a group here in Arizona called Aravaipa. Moving forward 4 months I had chosen to complete a 75k, which is 46 miles, in a night race last September, 2013, at the McDowell Mountains with Aravaipa. This was life changing. Plus it had all the ingredients of my Grand Canyon adventure without the steep climbs, but a wonderful start to my journey! Just prior to this I was challenged by someone I had met at a talk, where we had discussed my dream, who said “you can’t do that!” My question was “why not?” They answered “ You have to do a Rim to Rim first!” Well not knowing me very well, it has served to drive me. I love a challenge!
So at the time of writng this, with 2 weeks to go I have just completed my last tough training run, going 3 hours and climbing 3000 feet. I’m feeling good physically, mentally and emotionally. This feeling was bolstered 2 weeks earlier by a great finish at Mount Taylor’s 50k which had over 5000 feet of climbing and was all over 9000 feet. I’m also excited because Nichole, who finished with a big smile, is excited and Felix will be bringing his Ironman mentality and courage. Next I I’ll begin to cover my unique training approach which I’ve followed the last two years to prepare for this “Bucket List” event and give more details of this journey up to and after we complete the run. I hope to encourage anyone to believe they can do this and provide somewhat of a map to make it happen.