Running the Grand Canyon (slowly!)

I've signed up to run the Grand Canyon in early September with my 60 year old Aunt... She's very fit and has done this run/ hike (as she refers to it) several times before. But this time, she wants to do rim-to-rim in 17hrs, starting early one morning (when temperatures will be freezing), running throughout the day (when it will be very hot) and then finishing late evening (getting cooler again).

As a central-London based ex-middle distance club runner,  it's obviously very hard for me to find similar conditions to train in! I am in good shape in regards to cardiovascular work, I've got a strong core (from Bikram yoga; I hope you've been reading my blogs on this very site!), and whilst I am quite heat-tolerant, I am a bit worried I'm going to suffer heat exhaustion at some point.

Has anyone done this hike/ run or similar? What kit should I bring? Any advice on shoes? I would like to pack as lightly as possible. Any advice of any kind would be greatly appreciated.



  • You don't blog on this site, do you? You've not posted here for three years!

    "Rim-to-rim" - where along the canyon are you planning to do this? What's your route?
  • I've been at the Grand Canyon at dawn in September. It wasn't 'freezing' just chilly. I wore shorts and a long sleeved top and I was fine, just mooching about. It wasn't too hot during the day either, probably low 20s. I'd suggest trail shoes.
  • Have a look at Running Times online. If you just type Grand Canyon into the search, and then at the lower part of the page there's some articles and tips on running it, if that helps.
  • Thank you for your advice/ tips/ information.

     Intermanaut- I do blog on here, and you're right, I've not posted on the forum for many years!

  • I've hiked the South Kaibab Trail to the river and back in December 2009. Took me 4h37 including time for loo breaks, taking photos and having a snack at the bottom. Temperature wise it was well below freezing when I started before dawn (my car thermometer said 16F when I parked for the shuttle bus to the trailhead), but soon warmed up once the sun rose and was warm by the time I reached the river and stayed fairly warm on the way back up. I started wearing tshirt, longsleeved top, fleece, waterproof jacket, woolly hat, thin running gloves, thick fleece gloves, trousers converable to shorts. I endied with just the tshirt and shorts. I wore lightweight hiking boots, but decent trail shoes would be fine.

    The South Kaibab is the shortest (and hence steepest) route to the river from the South Rim. A lot of the trail is now stepped which I found annoying as they were just too far apart for one stride and too close together for two. I chose that route to try to get done in one morning so that my wife didn't get too bored.

    I've also been there in early October and it was never cold (though it can snow at that time of year).

    I borrowed my wife's garmin to record it:

  • I've done the Bright Angel trail to the river and back - walking, not running - in early November. Just wore shorts, T shirts and trail shoes (Nike Air Pegasus). Trails were hard shale and dusty. My socks changed from white to red, never to recover.

    I'm not sure that 'running' is a real option - most was quite steep - maybe the  'j' word for some sections! Took me about 9 hours - including a diversion to Plateau Point, and sitting on a rock in the river for lunch -  and 100s of pictures. What route is your rim to rim? 17 hours sounds a lot longer than needed, unless there's quite a lot more distance. (I reckon my route, including diversion was about 22 miles)

    Temperature - a bit chilly in the morning (but not so cold .. 5 mins into it I didn't notice) and pleasantly hot at the river (again, nothing like the 120F plus I was warned about)

    Key learning? Take a lot of water for the uphill return. When I went, there was no water supply working ... and maybe head torch if you're not sure to complete in daylight.

    If you're doing rim to rim, will you return the next day?

    Message me if you want a link to my photos.

  • I've done rim to rim and back in a day. Started at 3am in July. Got to other side (north) via Kaibab at 7:30 in time for breakfast. Then back down Kaibab and up bright angel. Bright angel has water. Kaibab does not. Bottom of canyon by 0900 so still coolish. Heated up by about half way up and tiring so back up at 1400. Ran about 50% of the ups as not particularly steep but relentless - donkeys use the Bright Angel trail after all. From south side down Kaibab and up Angel allows access to water on way up. Even so take lots of water and start as early as poss - it is very hot at bottom so be sure to avoid mid morning to late afternoon for the base. Also loads of signs warn you not to hike to base and back in a day. Remember north side is 6000ft ascent and south is nearer 5000 ft. Rim to rim os only 13 miles so 17 hrs sounds way too long. Have fun!
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