A new ultra-length stage race is set to get underway this weekend in the western United States, where some of the top endurance runners in the world have gathered to take on a unique course that will undoubtedly challenge them both mentally and physically. The seven-day, six-stage event will cover more than 160 miles (257 km) and feature over 21,700 ft (6614 meters) of vertical gain.
The race is called the Grand to Grand Ultra, deriving its name from the fact that it begins at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and ends at the summit of the Grand Staircase in Utah. Over the course of next week, competitors in the event will be running an average of 28 miles per day, mostly through remote desert regions as they pass through two national forests and Zion National Park on their way to the finish line.
As is typical with these kinds of events, the G2G Ultra requires that all of the competitors be self supporting while out on the course. That means they won’t just be running more than a marathon per day, but they’ll also have to carry all of their gear with them while out on the course. Mandatory gear includes first aid and emergency supplies, a windproof jacket, lightweight sleeping bag and more. They’ll also need to haul their food and water with them as well although they will receive fresh water at each of the checkpoints they pass through along the way.
One of the things that I find most interesting about this race is that the organizers are giving away some of the proceeds to charity. This year they selected one of my favorite organizations, impossible2Possible, to be the beneficiary of those charitable contributions. I’ve written numerous times about the efforts of i2P, which encourages education and physical activity through the use of adventure. The non-profit organizes a couple of expeditions to remote places on the planet each year and then interacts with students and faculty in a variety of classrooms to help raise awareness of global issues. It’s a great program and one I’m always happy to see get some attention.
The G2G Ultra actually begins Sunday morning at the North Rim. While it is underway you should be able to get updates from the official website. And if you want to take part in the 2013 version of the race, they are already accepting early bird applications.
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