Grand Canyon Pre-Race Letter

Hello runners of the Grand Canyon Ultramarathons!

We hope that you are excited to be a part of this amazing group of trail runners from all over the globe that will be coming together to run at one of the most unique and inspiring areas on the planet- the Grand Canyon! 

To get you excited about the views that you will see during this adventure, have a look at the flyover videos that Christian Johnson recently made for us: 

100 mile flyover- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-AhEVCiLlI

50 mile flyover- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UBHow2gn1I

50k flyover- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cK4WJW5nwg

25k flyover- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeivOcUKJq0

Checkin is located at the start/finish line area at the Kaibab Lodge. The Kaibab Lodge is a beautiful property on forest service land located just before the entrance to the national park.  If you don't make it in time on Friday, you can get your bib up to 30 min before the race starts or shuttle leaves. 

Hwy 67 will be closed at Jacob's Lake until early Friday morning, May 15 when Arizona Dept. of Transportation will open it up for the season. If you would like to get on the course before Friday, it can be accessed via Hwy 22 near Fredonia, AZ. The dirt roads to get to the view points are dirt/gravel but are 2wd drive accessible. There are many unbelieveable (and free!) camping spots at or near the various overlooks along the course if you'd like to wake up and unzip your tent to witness a sunrise over the Grand Canyon on your visit :)  If you follow Hwy 22 all the way out, it meets up with Hwy 67 less than a mile from the Kaibab Lodge. 

You are welcome to set up your camp in the area between the Kaibab Lodge and DeMott campground as it is on forest service land and dispersed camping is allowed. If you would like to rent a tent and/or cot from us, you can reserve one here: https://ultrasignup.com/shopping.aspx?did=29199

We have a much better staging area this year as it is a paved road the entire way to the starting line and is located next to the few amenities on the remote Kaibab Plateau. The Kaibab Lodge has a warm and welcoming restaurant and a gas station/convenience store across street. We will have our hot shower/hot tub/composting toilet trailer at the starting line for runners/campers to use during their stay. 

The Kaibab Lodge sits at 9,000ft, nearly 2,000ft above the rim of the canyon and the overlooks. Some snow patches are still present along the first 13ish miles of the course as you descend towards the rim. It is possible that your feet will get wet and it would be wise for 100 milers to have some dry socks in a drop bag somewhere at or after Stina Aid. There are almost two different temperature zones that you will need to be prepared for. As witnessed last year, it can be very hot and dry along the rim section of the trail, even though you're at 7,000-8,000ft in elevation. The section between Stina Aid and the Start/Finish is significantly cooler (approx 10 degrees) than the lower section of the course.

Due to the remote location of this race, we will not be able to provide live updates for your friends/family to follow you from home. We do have satellite phones at the aid stations so that we can account for runners on the course and keep communication lines open among our staff members, but we do not have the ability to communicate runner where abouts to your loved ones during the event. If you would like to let friends and family know your status on the course, you have a couple of options. 1) You can text them from most of the viewpoints along the course (these are about the only spots on the course with cell service). Reception is  usually good enough to get a text out, but it can be difficult to get a phone call out. If you're worried about your cell phone battery, you can turn it off while in between viewpoints, leave it in airplane mode, or use a small battery backup such as this. 2) Use a tracking app such as Endomondo which will automatically update your whereabouts when you come into a reception area. (These apps tend to drain your cell phone battery and the use of a battery backup device will be necessary if you plan on leaving it on for the duration of the event. 

Please note that Locust Point Aid Station will not be staffed. It is a self-serve and will be supplied with water, Tailwind, gels, and some limited snack food items. Locust Point is only 3 miles from Fence Point and about 6 miles from North Timp Point. Your crew can still meet you there if they'd like. There are 14 staffed and stocked aid stations on the course. 

If your crew would like to rent a satellite phone, Russ from SkyCall Satellite Phones will have some available to rent for $35 for the weekend. 

For course marking, we will be using pink flagging with some highly reflective tape attached to each marker. The 25K is the only distance that has a slight variation from the main route, between Squaw and Dry Park aid stations. This section will be marked in orange flagging to match their bibs. 

Junctions will be heavily marked with signs and flour arrows to help avoid any confusion. 

The section between Crazy Jug and Parissawampitts aid stations has a couple of rugged and steep scramble sections (about 100 yards each) that the 50/100 milers will need to negotiate.

Any runners missing the shuttle will be responsible to get to their respective starting lines on their own. 

All drop bags will be delivered back to the start after the aid station closes. If you would like a chance of it getting there sooner, you will need to place it in the pile labeled "Return to Start Line" after you finish using it and are leaving the aid station. Crew or volunteers cannot sort through them in order to reduce the risk of a drop bag inadvertantly being returned to the start line. You are welcome to drive to an aid station to pick up a drop bag if you need it before the aid station closes.

It is the responsibility of the runner to check in at each aid station (coming in only, no need to check out of the aid station.) Seek out the aid station worker wearing the fluorescent orange vest and give them your bib number. Failure to check in at an aid station can result in disqualification. If you drop out of the race YOU MUST TURN IN YOUR BIB TO THE NEAREST AID STATION CAPTAIN. If you fail to do this, not only will you be responsible for all related search party costs, but you will not be allowed to enter any future UA events.

You are responsible for the actions of your crew and pacers. If their behavior is deemed inappropriate by race staff, you will be disqualified. Please let them know this and only choose crew members that will treat our volunteers and staff with respect while you are out on the course. 

Aid station cutoffs have been posted on the website. Here's a link to the spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_Rz62Av9z8bSpZ9ZBGoeeRW9UvwHgFemVB0InqhfCZU/edit#gid=1280784648

Tailwind is our sponsoring energy/electrolyte drink and it will be provided at each of the aid stations.  

One of our ambassadors, Keena DeLay, will be leading a relaxed yoga session at 5:30pm on Friday evening during checkin for any runners that would like to participate. 

We will have a course preview meeting at 6:30pm on Friday for those interested  where we will be give an overview of the course conditions and answering any questions.  We will also be playing the flyover videos at the starting area during checkin. After the course preview meeting at 7pm Matt Anderson will be giving a fireside chat about the unique history of the Grand Canyon and Kaibab Plateau. Matt was the geography/history teacher across the hall from my classroom a few years ago and has a vast knowledge and appreciation for the land and history of the Grand Circle area. He has worked as a ranger in the educational outreach program in the national park system during the summers, sharing his love of the area with thousands of visitors. He is an avid hiker/backpacker and is also Fast Cory's brother-in-law, meaning he often has pacing/crewing duties :)  Matt has also come on board as a member of the UA team, managing our social media accounts.

The pre/post race meal will be a DIY pita pizza bar. We supply the ingredients, you make it how you want it, and we'll cook it for you in one of our pizza ovens (they only take 2 minutes to cook.)  The number of meal tickets that you are supplied with depends on your race distance. 

I hope you're planning on getting out and seeing some of the beautiful land features inside the national park while you're here, as part of our Trifecta Series. If you're unaware of what that is, you can read more about it here: http://www.grandcircletrails.com/trifectas/  It would be a shame to come all the way out here and not get on some of the amazing trails within the park's boundaries or at least see the North Rim overlook. 

We will have a photo competition after the race via our Instagram account. Photos can be taken before, during, or after the race. They can be photos of the course itself, from one of the trifectas, something funny at the event, your roadtrip, whatever. You have a two week window to submit them (a week before the event and a week after it.) Hashtag #ultraadventures to enter.  The top vote getters will be awarded some great prizes from some of our sponsors such as Altra, Orange Mud, Smith Optics, St. George Running Center, Joe Trailman Gaiters, and High Desert Drop Bags. Bib numbers will be assigned this Saturday.

Remember that we put on Zero Waste events. This means that we'll need your help by putting any waste in the appropriate container. The most important thing to separate is any organics/compostable items, so any left over food etc. please put in the "compost" buckets.  Once that potentially smelly stuff is out of the way, it's really not that big of a deal if we have to do a little extra sorting for the recayclables. We compress the non-recyclable items into blocks which are later used as an eco-friendly, sustainable building material. So don't worry about using that styrafoam cup at the aid station, it has a high R-Value (insulative properties) and is lightweight, making it a great fill material for our building blocks :)  Less than 1% of the trash produced at our events goes to the landfill, something that we are very proud of.

All of the toilets used at our event are composting toilets.  If you're not familiar with what a composting toilet is, it's just a dry toilet with a carbon source medium (usually sawdust) added to the toilet chamber after each use.  Please toss a nice scoop/handful of sawdust over your turd to aid in the composting process and keep things looking nice for the person coming after you :)  Diverting material that would have otherwise gone through the wastewater treatment facilities saves a lot of energy and water and eliminates the chemicals used in traditional portapotties from being introduced into the wastewater system. And after a year of composting, we are left with a healthy soil amenity used to enrich a local alfalfa field. 

We don't have an awards ceremony since the runners finish over such a large span of time. You will pick up your finishers awards as you cross the finish line. We have put a lot of effort into creating a more welcoming and comfortable post-race environment and we invite you to stick around and for as long as you'd like afterwards. Our Eco-Trailer is ready to roll and will be at the event, don't forget your towell if you'd like to give our hot shower and wood-fired hot tub a spin. Check it out here 

Here is a link to a spreadsheet created by Adrian Stanciu for the Grand  course that can help you plan out your run. Adrian won the Monument Valley 100 and took second at Antelope Canyon, so the planning obviously paid off! You can fill in the blanks with your own estimated times: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yDfd1EYu2Jb7qWlWf_d6NXbXvcEozHKpjb8a2zv1IJo/edit#gid=0

We hope that you're as excited as we are for this!!