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Grand Canyon R2R2R Experience 2011: John Sharp

“To stand upon the edge of this stupendous gorge, as it receives its earliest greeting from the god of the day, is to enjoy in a moment compensation for long years of ordinary uneventful life.” – John Stoddard 1898

If you enjoyed Char and Fred Thompson’s account of their Grand Canyon R2R2R adventure, I have another one for ya!

John Sharp is a passionate, high-energy TALON athlete that also experienced his first R2R2R adventure a few weeks back. John has moved through the ultra distances like a bull moving through the streets of Spain during the San Firmin festival – Full On!

John ran his first 50 km in January 2008 and his first 100 miler by June the same year. Of special note, John finished what most agree is the toughest 100 miler in the United States, the Hardrock 100 in 2010.

John started the ~46 mile R2R2R journey at 3:30am and arrived back at the South Rim around midnight.

Q&A on the Adventure

John was gracious in answering a few questions (and include photos and video!) as only John can…about his Grand Canyon experience and share it with the Endurance Buzz community.


EB: What attracted you to the R2R2R adventure?

It sounded like something cool to do. Like a lemming, everybody else was doing it, so why not.

EB: Nearly the entire route you are either climbing or descending. As a flatlander, how did your prepare in training for this component of the run?

That is not as true as you may think, from the River to a little past Cottonwood [EB – around ~8 miles one-way], it’s pretty flat. Prepare/Train? HaHa. I drank a lot of beer the day before, does that count?

EB: As you took your first step down the trail, what thoughts crossed your mind?

This is going to be one long ass day, it’s probably going to suck, and WTH am I doing here!

EB: On a trail that can leave you quite exposed, were there any sections of trail that made the hair on your arms stand up?

None. As long as one side of me is against a wall of some sort, I am fine. I only get freaked out on steep ridges, where both sides
drop away quickly.

EB: Since you don’t have an aid-station every four miles to load up the hydration pack and grab some tasty brownies, how did you manage hydration and calorie needs across an entire day?

You should have some experience in this area, to really know. I had five PB&J and three ham&cheese sandwiches. Also, four bananas, a bag of jelly beans, fig newtons and crackers.

EB: Any big critters? What animals did you notice along the route?

No big critters, unless you count mules, but a whole bunch of lizards!

EB: How busy of a trail was it on your day? Did you feel like the only one on the trail or are you frequently crossing paths with other runners/hikers?

It wasn’t real busy at all. I did cross paths with runners, but I mostly felt like I was the only one out there.

EB: As you took your last step off the trail, what thoughts crossed your mind?

This really sucked, I wish I would have trained for this. I’m never doing this again. But, I will!!

EB: What three tips would you share with someone interested in the R2R2R experience?

Don’t be stupid, you really could die. Know your abilities. Know your body.

Bonus Video!

John put together a sweet little video from the adventure. Check it out!

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

Special thanks to John for sharing his thoughts, photos, and video on his day trip across the Grand Canyon…and back.

More info: R2R2R Resources (various links to information I had found for the Grand Canyon adventure)

John also has a blog at Pushing Limits where you can follow his musings on trail running and whatever else passes through his awareness such as a recent review of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Mormonism.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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