Races & Events

Race Report: Grand Canyon 7xs Rim to Rim Run (WORLD RECORD)




RACE REPORT: GRAND CANYON
7XS RIM TO RIM RUN (WORLD RECORD)

The Grand Canyon is considered one of seven natural wonders of the world. It is 18 miles wide and attains a depth of approximately 6,000 feet. Hiking rim-to-rim (23.9 miles) is considered one of America's most dangerous hikes, causing 350 heat-related rescues in the park ever year. 4-5 Hikers die on average a year.  The trouble is, the hellish-heat combined with 4,380 vertical feet of climbing within 9.5 miles, over exerts hikers and exacerbates heat illness.  Backpacker.com states that, “The dark grey schist at lower elevations absorbs and radiates heat like a cast-iron frying pan, so when thermometers read 110°F in the shade, hikers endure 130°F ground temps on the trail.”  Flash floods can also occur anytime of the year, the National Parks Service reports that hikers have died from floods generated by thunderstorms as far as 25 miles away. Our teams goal would be for me to cross the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim 7 times continuously and set a new world record.

Rim to Rim crossing (1) 5/21/13 Badwater and Death Valley Running Legend Danny Westergaard would pace me for the first crossing.  We would simply call him Dan the Man! Danny and I left the South Rim at 3:10 pm, temp. 92F degrees. We would run most of the first 10 miles into Phantom ranch at a nice pace.  We would take a short break at the 10 mile mark at Phantom Ranch. We refilled our water and started the 6 mile trek to Cottonwood campground and the next water station. When we were about 1/2 way to cottonwood the exertion I had put out in pushing the pace for the first 13 miles had taken a toll on me. I began showing signs of heat exhaustion, my vision would go from being blurred to seeing double! I was reduced to a slow walk. I had 2 full spare water bottles in addition to my 100oz Camelbak. My pace would slow to a crawl, I poured both of my water bottles over my head in order to cool my core down and I made a conscious effort to drink more out of my Camelbak. I finally snapped out of it and was able to pick it up to a brisk walk into Cottonwood.  I remember saying to myself Danny must be thinking there is no way Bradley is going to make 7 rims. He already has blown up after just a 1/2 a crossing and he hasn't even started climbing yet. Mariko Pitts my Crew Chief had been educating us on the drive up to the Canyon on the dangers of getting bit by a scorpion, how poisonous they were and how sick you could get. So of course just as it hit nightfall, Danny shined his headlamp on a big scorpion crossing the trail.  I remember thinking there is no way I am going to sleep on this trail with those crazy things crawling around!

Since last October I have been having nightmares about the last 9.5 miles up the North Rim where you climb 4,300 feet.  Last October, I did a practice run up the North Rim in 100f+deg temperature and it put me on my Knees. I underestimated how tough and hot it would be, it had absolutely wiped me out. By the time I hit the top of the totally exposed North Rim I was staggering and I had a park volunteer walking with me asking me if I needed medical help. Of course my pride answered no. But I would end up spending the night in a hotel on the North Rim before recovering enough to complete the return trip to the South Rim the next day; it had been a complete embarrassment. I completed a Double Badwater in Death Valley with temperatures hitting 135f degrees! (292 miles). But just one crossing of the Grand Canyon had put me on my knees!  I had underestimated the Grand Canyon! That Is why I planned the 3pm start so I would hit the North Rim climb as the night air cooled it down.  It worked we arrived at the top of the North Rim at 2:21am to meet our crew. We had done the first crossing in 11 hours and 11 minutes.

Words from the Crew Chief, Mariko Pitts:

Once Bill and Danny took off from the South Rim, the crew and I set off in the RV for the North Rim. About 2 hours into our 5.5 hour total drive to the other rim we noticed that we were completely out of mobile phone range. We were completely in the dark with communication and would need to lean on a prayer that the boys would make it out and could find us. I immediately knew that this could be an issue given the further Bill went the worse his physical and mental condition could be… and who knew how long we’d be waiting for him without being able to track the GPS spot tracker online. The potential issues of our trip were beginning to show face knowing that at least 5 hours of every day meant we were in the blind.

Bill arrived on the North Rim early morning in good spirits and physically in great shape! He was exhausted of course but both he and Danny were lively and full of great conversation. The crew made dinner and we got the boys into bed. Mental rest was all that was needed at this point. Bill slept for about 3.5 solid hours before he was refueled and back on the trail.

Rim to Rim Crossing (2) 5/22/13 Ultra Runner Jonny Olsyk with 100 mile racing experience would pace me for my second crossing. We would depart the North Rim at 7:15 am and again we would run/walk for about 3 miles till we came to a real hairy cliff section that has a straight down 1000' drop off. Jonny had previously told me he had a fear of heights but had assured me he would be fine. When we hit that big drop off section I was leading and asked Jonny who was behind me how he was doing, he said if I don't look over the cliff and I only look at the canyon wall I am fine. I turned around and saw Jonny was staring straight at the canyon wall with his arms stretched out wide and he was walking sideways. I told Jonny "I think you developed a new move but can you pick up the pace!" "LOL" The heat was already starting to rise. When I hit the pump house all I could think about was cooling my body down. So I stuck my head under the faucet and rubbed the cold water into my head.  There were a handful of other hikers who we sat down with on the bench and we had a short conversation with them. I left the pump house a few minutes later feeling cool! We would pass through Cottonwood water station a mile and a half later figuring after filling up at the Pump House I had enough water to make it the 6 miles to Phantom Ranch.  By now the temperature had shot up to triple digits. We were now moving along at a 30 minute mile pace with the heat just pounding us. After another 1 1/2 miles I was shocked when I heard the one sound you don't want to hear in the bottom of the Grand Canyon with the temperature pegging over 100 degrees. It was a loud slurping noise! I had run out of water in my Camelbak. I realized I must have forgotten to fill my Camelbak at the Pump House. I had been a little delirious and had been distracted by the other hikers. Definitely a Fopa! I saw a hiker coming down the trail and he gave me half a bottle of water, but as the temperature rose to a simmering 104 deg. I started bumming water from Jonny.  With two miles still to go to Phantom Ranch Jonny ran out of water.  We had both been drinking the water pretty conservatively so by the time he ran out of water we were both pretty dehydrated. I had my second episode of heat exhaustion with my vision blurring and seeing double again. We had been warned multiple times that you had pretty good odds of getting Giardia if you drank out of the creek at the bottom of the canyon. (We would later be told the odds are 1 in 4)  I told Jonny I don't think we have a choice but to drink out of the creek. I figured better to get Diarrhea for up to 9 months then to die! “LOL" I chugged 2 bottles out of the Creek. Jonny must have agreed because the man who used an iron to press his shorts in the RV before he runs filled his Camelbak up and drank up. Telling me if he got Diarrhea he would text me a picture every morning! "LOL" It would take us another hour to hit Phantom Ranch. By then I was in really bad shape again, the blurred/double vision had returned and when I arrived at Phantom I chugged three more bottles of water. I was really screwed up. I told Jonny I would have to get in the creek for a while to cool my core. As I lay in the creek I said to Jonny you should film this with the Go Pro he was carrying and he said “I can't, I am dehydrated! I'm too dizzy!"  I thought Bummer! I am always looking for the shot! "LOL" But I guess that's a good excuse! "LOL" I took my shoes off and laid in that creek for a while till I finally started to cool down.  We would end up taking a 2 hour break until I felt recovered enough to go on. We then started the 10 mile climb up to the South Rim In the afternoon heat. After what seemed like an eternity Jonny and I would arrive at the top of the South Rim at 9:05 pm. The crossing had taken us 13 hours and 50 minutes.  

Jonny after sharing his water with me till he ran out and was dizzy and dehydrated would be given the honorary nickname "The Giver!" "LOL"

Words from the Crew Chief, Mariko Pitts:

We were a bit concerned the crew and I as the 12 hour mark passed us… but once we saw the boys coming up along the trail we knew they had an interesting story. Bill was completely drained, it seemed like the sun came out just to whoop him and Jonny was speechless and looked as if he’d been through hell. The downtime on this break would be just over 7 hours. Bill needed time to readjust. He was loopy for quite some time so we threw him in a shower to see if we could shake him out of the fog. After food, a hot cocoa and a shower his body came out of shock and he was able to pass out for about 3 hours.

Rim to Rim crossing (3) 5/23/13 Danny would again be pacing for my 3rd crossing. We left at 4:15am. I was now reduced to a little shuffling and a lot of walking. On our way to Phantom Ranch we walked by a bush that rattled at us… a large rattle snake came slithering out!  Again I thought there is no way I'm sleeping on this trail with those crazy things around! By the time we hit Phantom Ranch the temperature had again raised over 100f degrees. The now familiar blurred/double vision had returned. I let Danny know I was going to have to get in the creek again to cool my core. The lunch/cooling off break at Phantom Ranch would only take an hour this time. I left Phantom feeling strong.  The wind kicked up when we climbed the 9 miles up to the North Rim causing the temperature to cool down to a survivable temperature. We would arrive at the North Rim at 6:07 pm. crossing time was 13hrs and 50 minutes. I had now developed a cough. I had watched all the dust that was hanging in the air.   Especially at night you could just see the thick dust floating in the air in the light of your headlamp. I had been breathing in the dust for 2 days now.  I had thought this can't be good!  When I developed a cough, I figured my body was attempting to get rid of all the dust.

Words from the Crew Chief Mariko Pitts:

3 down and Bill was holding up nicely considering the extreme temperatures and intense climbing elevation! Mentally we knew he’d need at least 3 hours of sleep to straighten back up again and focus but physically we knew we couldn’t keep him still for too long or he wouldn’t be able to move. Although Bill would ask us for at least 4 hours of sleep we knew we couldn’t allow 4 + so we set a plan to wake him at 3 hours but he would wake up ready to go at 3 hours anyway so it ended up working out.  Also I had noticed a sporadic cough every now and then during dinner but by the time he laid down for sleep I noticed it was a deeper wheezing cough. I could tell the dust was beginning to irritate his lungs and his vocal cords since his voice was starting to head off a cliff. This was an interesting concern to monitor… I hoped that it wouldn’t turn into a huge issue for us moving forward.

Rim to Rim crossing (4) 5/24/13 James Carroll our Cameraman who went to school at ASU would be pacing me.  He had experience with hiking the Grand Canyon. Also being from Phoenix he was used to the heat plus he was a top wrestler in the state when he was in high school. One thing I know about wrestlers is they are Bad Ass!  James would be known as James Bond.  We would leave the North Rim at 1:23 am. Danny was convinced that I needed to drink more water to avoid the heat exhaustion I had experienced during each of the first three crossings. I have had problems at the Badwater running race in Death Valley with Hyponutrimia (swelling of the body from drinking too much water), including one year I gained 25 lbs of water weight and was in danger of drowning in my own fluids.  So I was a little skeptical about drinking a lot more water but I was also desperate to stop the heat exhaustion.  Not to mention with how weak I was getting, the possibility of heat stroke or worse would likely require an emergency helicopter ride out of the Canyon. Definitely not on our agenda! "LOL" When it comes to running in extreme heat, Danny's plan was for me to drink out of my Camelbak every 5 minutes.  James was to keep an eye on me and remind me to drink if I forgot. As we were climbing Devils Corkscrew on the way up to the South Rim the temperature rose to a smoldering 114f deg. The heat was weakening me but I didn’t have Double/Blurred vision. Danny's plan was working. However as we were working our way up the cliffs on the South Rim, I was so weak I tripped over a rock and started stumbling head first towards the edge of the cliff. At the last second I was able to plant my foot and change my direction to stop myself from going off the cliff.   James yelled from behind me "You almost went off the cliff!" I asked him "Did you catch that on film???"  Remember I am always looking for the shot! "LOL" He responded that he didn't have the camera on.  "Bummer" I said to myself. "LOL” I had kidded with everyone that if I fell off a cliff my last word would be "Geronimo!" I had almost jinxed myself!  LOL But I really did have Geronimo on the tip of my tongue when I got to the Edge of the Cliff! Ha Ha

When we hit Indian Garden's campground 4 miles from the South Rim, we filled up our water bottles and took a short break. When I stood up, my feet were in excruciating pain. My feet had out swelled my shoes. I could barely stand up. I was shaking in pain. I told James I would need to soak my feet in the creek to bring the swelling down before I could go on. When I took my shoes and socks off, I was horrified at what I saw I had gotten trench foot! Probably from all the soaking I had been doing in the creek. All the skin on my left big toe had peeled off of it. It was red and raw! My feet were all clammy and very susceptible to blisters!  I had no choice but to soak my feet in the creek to get the swelling down.  Afterward I was able to bum some tape to wrap my toe with. I put my shoes back on and James and I continued the painful ascent to the South Rim. We would arrive at the South Rim at 5:13 pm. Our crossing time was 15 hours and 50 minutes. At the RV I immediately soaked my feet in ice water. I had been working on my own feet up to this point, just a few blisters here and there. Now my feet were a mess, not only was my big toe raw but I now had blisters all over the bottom of my feet. They needed a lot of work. I was in big time pain and after four crossings I just didn't have the energy to work on my own feet. I pretty much volunteered Mariko to work on my feet. She had never worked on blisters or trench foot before. Heck! She is a tennis player! "LOL" I hoped she wasn't squeamish when I volunteered her. She produced a scalpel that they had picked up in a drug store. I guess they saw this coming!  She went to work popping the obvious blisters on the bottom of my feet. Then she got to the blisters that were under the calluses. These were bad news, she would have to jab the scalpel in deep to get through the callus to the blister. We would both know when she hit the blister because I would scream!  After popping a couple of these and letting me scream for a bit, she asked me if I needed a stick to bite down on! She was anything but squeamish! "LOL" After a solid hour of popping blisters on my feet and squeezing the liquid out of them, she told me to get some sleep. When I laid back my feet were in shock. They were shaking and throbbing! There was no way I could sleep until the throbbing stopped. Not only were my feet in bad shape but my cough was now much worse. I was also starting to lose my voice.  I ended up getting a rough two hours of sleep. When I woke up, Mariko looked at my feet and said some of the blisters had refilled and she found a couple she had missed.  I thought you got to be kidding me! She went back to work with the scalpel. I thought I do need that stick to bite on! "LOL" By the time she had popped all the blisters and taped up all my toes and feet, it had taken another hour. We would nickname Mariko "Mick" after the old trainer in Rocky. "Just cut me Mick!" LOL Of course I was thinking please don't cut me anymore Mick! LOL

Words from the Crew Chief Mariko Pitts:

What a mess Bill was in when he arrived back at the RV! Once the time clock had passed the 15 hour mark I knew we had incoming issues. Bill talked about his feet and the condition they were in and I thought holy crap, are we going to be able to continue?! We got his shoes off and ohhh mannn did we have a problem… during the icing Bill looked at me and asked for help. I knew our legendary pacers weren’t able to help because they had already expressed how they usually have others do the popping and taping for them so they were at a loss. I quickly agreed and although I had never done this sort of thing and do not care for feet in general I would definitely say I was taking on a huge feat! LOL well, someone had to do it or else we’d be on our way home. As I forced the scalpel through his calluses and blisters I noticed that my mind had gone into crisis control. I was so committed to getting his feet on a safer and functional track that I had yet to feel what I was experiencing… Once I finished, I washed my hands and while in shock I walked out of the RV and almost vomited. My body was shaky and sweaty and while coming down from its shocked state I sat on a curb for 10 minutes to recuperate. 

Bill couldn’t have described the situation any better, but to add to it… He was in dire pain. His body was in shock; he was hot and cold and was shaking uncontrollably from the pain. I raised his feet above his heart to help reduce the swelling but even then I ended up giving him Advil and strapping a bag of ice to his feet to help numb the pain until the pills kicked in. He was in bed tossing, turning, moaning and coughing for about 1.5 hours before he basically fainted. He was down for about 2 hours and the duties started once again.

Rim to Rim Crossing (5) 5/25/13 Danny again would pace me, I would change into my largest pair of trail running shoes and we would leave the South Rim at 1:10 am. I would be walking gingerly all day with how bad of shape my feet were in. By 3am my voice was gone.  I told Danny in a soft whisper that I could no longer talk. Danny laughed and said I bet that has never happened to you before!  At day break we were coming down the Devils Corkscrew when we passed a young woman ranger who was on her way up.   When she saw we didn't have the big packs necessary to spend the night in the Canyon.  She asked us if we were going all the way across to the North Rim in one day. Danny said we were, by now we knew better than to say I was on my 5th crossing.  She let us know that they did not encourage single day crossings! She then looked me and Danny straight in the eyes and sternly told us "We rescue guys like you two all the time!"  After she left, Danny and I had a big chuckle. As we were approaching Cottonwood the temperature raised to a sizzling 110f deg. everyone we passed on the trail warned us that a water pipe had broken and the trail was flooded. One lady told us to get around the flooded area was intense!  When we arrived at the flooded area, the only way to get around it without getting my feet soaked was to tight rope walk on a rock wall.  One side was the flooded trail that looked like a creek. On the other side was a 25 foot drop off. As I shakily walked on the skinny rock wall, Danny walked behind me holding my Camelbak.  He told me if I lost my balance he would throw me onto the trail and into the water.  We would eventually pass the flooded area. All I could think was that was intense! "LOL" We were also getting mixed messages from hikers we passed as to whether or not there was water at Cottonwood because of the broken pipe. By the time we hit Cottonwood even with all the drinking I was now doing, in my weakened condition and the 110f deg. I was again overheating something awful.  I told Danny I needed to cool my core off in the creek and bring the swelling down in my throbbing feet.  Danny told me I could not afford to get my feet wet anymore.  I told him "Well this isn't cutting it!" I said as I stood on the trail with the 110f deg heat beating down on me while I shook in pain. Danny said "Well this is why you paid the bucks to suffer isn't it!"  I thought to myself he's got a Good Point! LOL The reason we had been getting mixed messages about whether or not Cottonwood had water. The first faucet we came across had no water, but the 2nd and last faucet did. Danny told me to lie on a bench and he would pour water on me from the water faucet till I cooled off.  This would keep my feet dry. He told me I could not afford to take my shoes off anymore or my feet would swell up so bad I wouldn't be able to get my shoes back on! He told me the swelling in my feet would go down once we started moving again and then the pain would go down to a tolerable amount!   He poured about 10 bottles on me till I was actually so cold I was shaking. After he poured the 10th bottle on me the faucet went dry. We thought to ourselves that was lucky timing. We headed out before the next thirsty hiker came along to find the faucet dry and me soaking wet! (Guilty "LOL").  Danny was right when I first got off the bench I could barely stand on my swollen painful feet! But once I started moving the swelling and pain would go down to a survivable amount. Again on the 9 mile exposed climb up the North Rim the wind kicked up to make the climb a little cooler and tolerable. We did pass a mom and her high school aged son who had run to the river and were now attempting to hike out. Even with the wind kicking up it was probably still in the 90's. They only had one bottle a piece and the kid was way overheated and looked like he wanted to kill his mom.  I gave him one of my bottles which he quickly poured over his head. We would leave them with Carl the son looking a little better. The mom said they had enough water to make it to the Supei Tunnel water faucet. There were now plenty of hikers on the trail for the Memorial weekend. So I figured if they ran out of water they would just get some from the other hikers. We both agreed Carl would not be coming back to the Grand Canyon anytime soon. We would arrive at the North Rim at 4:00pm.

Words from the Crew Chief Mariko Pitts:

Bill was in decent shape considering the night before of excruciating pain. Mentally he was very strong. His focus was unbreakable, but nonetheless he definitely looked like a train had hit him. Without knowing his goal and the numerous hikes he had previously accomplished, many hikers on the trail would look at Bill in fright. Many would come up to the crew and say “he should get help”. Because he looked like hell I was worried that while on the trail if he happened to run into a Park Ranger they would undoubtedly make the call to have him medevaced. I could just hear the helicopters swarming above, waiting for him.  Note: I told Bill before he set off to start his 5th trek that once he completed, it would be my cue to announce to his fans our plan for the world record. He gave me a solid look of OK and it was as if he put on another game face. We were now in the final push. But, before he embarked on the last 48 miles he needed as much rest as possible. I would work on his feet an average of 45 minutes before he went to bed and before he set out for the next trek. His cough had worsened and he was down to a whisper. His pain levels were reducing his sleep and he could stay asleep only for short moments equaling no more than 2 hours. By this time, the crew was operating efficiently and nothing was missed or skipped over. We were a well-oiled machine! We were ready to handle any situation and to set ourselves up to win; we decided to send two pacers on the 6th trek for extra reinforcement.

Rim to Rim Crossing (6) 5/25/13 Jonny, Danny and I would head out from the North Rim heading for the South Rim at 11:40PM.   It was slow going all the way through the night.
It would be a grind, but there would be no blowups. Jonny would go through the cliff section the second time like a pro, he had no problems. We would climb the South Rim in the heat of the day with temperatures well over 100f degrees again. The worst time to hit the climbs is in the heat of day. We would grind out the last 8 miles to the top of the South Rim. I was again running on Fumes by the time we hit the top. We would arrive at 3:17pm. Crossing time was 15 hours and 37 minutes. I called my sister Leslie to give her an update on my progress. I could only whisper into the phone. She asked me what was wrong. Was I sick?   I assured her I felt fine, it was just the dust I was breathing in.

Words from the Crew Chief Mariko Pitts:

With one more rim left we were all excited for the finish line. The crew was on top of everything and we were able to get Bill in bed fairly quicker than any other time. I had mastered the taping job LOL and we were all so use to how bad his feet were that the entire team could eat dinner while watching the horror without it even fazing us. LOL James would even put his meal down to grab a toe and help me spread them open to apply ointment etc. Bill laid down for 2 hours of rest and then called me while the team and I were having a drink at the café and was ready to get prepped for round 7. Poor Danny had just gone to bed and since he was pacing Bill for the last run he was basically sleep walking during prep time.

Rim to Rim Crossing (7) 5/26/13 It would be Danny and me going out for the 7th crossing. We left the South Rim at 9:32 pm. I had barely slept after the 6th crossing and my feet were in so much pain they were constantly throbbing by now. Also the cough that had started after my 4th crossing had gotten much worse. My chest was now filled with mucus. I was hacking up and blowing out of my nose a red mud like mucus. I would later find out I had the onset of dust pneumonia. A bigger deal then I had realized when I had talked to my sister. Dust pneumonia had killed many people in the 1930's in the dust storms of the Midwest. Between the pain in my feet and the difficulty I was having breathing, I couldn't sleep.  I just stared at the ceiling for a while. My rule of thumb is if I can't sleep, I roll! I woke Danny up who would be pacing me for his 5th time across the Grand Canyon and my 7th time across. As of a month ago 5 crossings would have set a record.  I asked him if he was ready to go. I knew what the answer would be and he said yes of Course! We would be going all the way through the night. I had only been averaging a little more than 2 hours of sleep after each crossing for the first 5 days.  So I was off the charts exhausted. After a few hours on the trail I started falling asleep on my feet. I was staggering on at a super slow pace. Danny told me if I didn't pick up the pace this crossing would take 24 hours. I told him I needed to take a 10 minute power nap in order to snap myself out of nodding off.  I was so tired I no longer cared about Scorpions or Rattle Snakes! I was desperate to snap out of the nods. I just laid down on the trail in the dirt for a 10 minute snooze.  The nap would hold the nods off for a couple more hours. Then the nods started up again. I would end up having to take two more short naps as I staggered my way through the night. I was never so happy to see daylight so the nods would finally stop.  We had hoped to climb the North Rim before the heat of the day. But due to my slow pace through the night that was not going to happen. We would be climbing the last 9 miles in temperatures above 100f degrees. This time as we climbed the North Rim the wind never came up. On the exposed trail it was deja vu to that practice run I had done in October. It was smoking hot! I was slowed to a crawl. The last 5 miles I slowed to the depressing pace of one mile an hour.  Mariko, Jonny and James would meet us at the Supei tunnel to finish the last 1 1/2 miles with us. With a half mile to go we were passed by a donkey train coming down the trail. I laid my head against the wall of the canyon as I was waiting for them to pass. I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was finish. Then the whole donkey train stopped moving and a young kid started screaming "My donkey is peeing! Then he started screaming "my mom’s donkey is peeing! My dad’s donkey is peeing!" It was absolutely the funniest thing to that young kid! Even I couldn't help but give a little chuckle about how ridiculous this was. We were all pinned up against the canyon wall as this whole train of donkeys took a pee break! After what seemed like an eternity the donkeys would finally move down the trail.  We would dodge some large pee puddles as we made our way up the last 1/2 mile to the top of the North Rim. We would finish the climb to the Top of the North Rim as a team. We had done it!  We would arrive at 2:40pm. The 7th and final crossing took 17 hours and 8 minutes. The total time for the seven passes was 5 days 23 hours and 30 minutes.

Words from the Crew Chief Mariko Pitts:

Holy shit!!!! He did it!!!!!! That’s all that was running through my mind! The boys (James and Jonny) and I decided to trek down 1.5 miles to see if we could find Bill and Danny, and good lord were they moving at a snail’s pace. The three of us waited for at least an hour before we ran into a park ranger/paramedic at Supei tunnel who was totally willing to let me interview her. Five minutes into the interview I figured screw it… why not tell her what Bill and the crew were here for. As assumed her face went into a shocked state and once I told her that we had a strong team watching out for him constantly and that at any minute he will be passing us to complete his 7th rim, she relaxed and said WOW. In my head I thought, Ohhh crap, good thing I ran into her first to give her the story before she saw him and had him medevaced with the last 1.5 miles left to go!  LOL that would have been a disaster… funny thing is during the interview Bill and Danny appeared and the ranger whom was very much intrigued walked with us to continue the conversation and congratulate Bill. All was well…

Once we crossed the finish line the entire crew and fans were waiting with cheers. A wave of emotions hit me knowing what was just accomplished. Bill kicked ass and the crew surrounding him never had a thought that he wouldn’t have made it. We were willing and did all that we could to have this turn out. I am extremely proud of Bill and hugely inspired by a team of individuals who supported this magical event. We are moving up!

The Final Totals:

The final totals would be 167.5 miles, 42,000' of climbing (Mt. Everest's elevation is 29,035'). Temperatures had been over 100f degrees for 5 of the 6 days we were out there with a high of 114f deg. There were 2 to 3 helicopter heat related rescues everyday while we were crossing the Canyon. We would set a World Record with seven continuous crossings of the Grand Canyon!

As for the Giardia, I would not get it!  I never received a text from Jonny so I assume he never got it either! "LOL"

I can't thank my crew enough!  I never had to worry about anything but making it to the next rim.  Mariko (Mick) our crew chief and blister specialist was amazing!  She always had a great attitude and was the glue that held everything together. Not to mention I was able to walk/run another 72 more miles after I got trench foot thanks to her handy work. Jonny (The Giver) was terrific! What else can you say about a guy who was always quick to pitch in? He paced me for two crossings and shared his water with me till there was none left! Danny (Dan the Man)… It was a huge confidence builder for me with having Danny on the Team!  I leaned on his extreme heat expertise heavily; in addition his endurance in the heat is unbelievable! He did 5 Crossings with me!  I never had to worry about Danny and if I got in trouble he was there for me! Our cameraman James Carroll (James Bond) did a great job shooting the event and he was a total Gamer! He big time earned my respect when he went with me on the fourth crossing and the temperature hit a blistering 114f deg. He was strong and he never complained. The last member of our crew was Cliff Stroke (The Cliffster) His main duty was to drive the RV although he would pitch in wherever he was needed. He ended up driving 2200 miles back and forth around the Grand Canyon to meet us at each rim. When we’d arrive at the North Rim in the middle of the night and it would be 39f deg. (We were definitely not set up to stand around in that cold!) I had 100 percent confidence Cliff would be there with the RV!  My team gave me so much, that I absolutely would have crawled the 7th Crossing if I had too, so I wouldn't have let everyone down!  Fortunately it didn't quite come to that. LOL

A special thanks to my incredible sponsors for their support WBE, Camelbak, Clif Bar and Alto Lab; and a very special thank you to my amazing running coach Amanda McIntosh.Thanks to all of you for your support!!!

 

Why is Epic an Extreme Endurance Athlete?