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11

Apr
2012

INTERNATIONAL ULTRA TO BE HELD AT GRAND CANYON

Written by : Joel Perrella

In less than two months 63 intrepid souls from 15 countries have thrown in their hats to compete in what is becoming one of 2012's most buzzed about staged ultra races. And with only five months before the start of the Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G), the 257 kilometer footrace is poised to become the most internationally attended staged ultra on US soil.

The event will start on September 23 at the north rim of the Grand Canyon and will end, following six stages and seven days, at the summit of the Pink Cliffs of the Grand Staircase – rock formations consisting of layers upon layers of sedimentary rock that hold over 600 million years of continuous Earth history.

Throughout the inaugural event competitors will navigate iconic slot canyons, will cross a tributary of the Virgin River and cover hard packed sand, soft sand, dunes, forest trails and rocky roads.

Grand to Grand Ultra.

Astrid Valks, an endurance athlete from the Netherlands, registered to compete in the G2G, is looking forward to a return to the Grand Canyon. “I visited the Grand Canyon when I was 28 years old and I remember my mouth fell open when I first caught sight of the mountain ranges, totally awesome.”

Valks is not the only international competitor anticipating an impressive setting, she is among an international crowd of participants coming from Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Hong Kong, Serbia and Colombia.

While the course itself is expected to be visually stunning it is also set to provide a formidable technical and physical challenge to those that compete. Stage three, for example, boasts a crossing through majestic coral pink sand dunes, but is also anticipated to be the toughest because of the shear distance of the section, 80 kilometers in total. There is no doubt that the race organizers have worked hard at building the juxtaposition of beauty with challenge.

“Once we embarked on a path to build the event, we then spent quite a long time researching and analysing the optimum location. There are many wonderful locations in the USA and Canada, however we chose Southern Utah/Northern Arizona in the end because of the amazing variety of terrain, its unique beauty, the hot climate, the iconic nature of the Grand Canyon (one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World) and perhaps most importantly, the warm reception of the local people of Kane County who have embraced the Grand to Grand Ultra as their own,” says Colin Geddes, business and event director for the Grand to Grand Ultra.

The team putting together the G2G have come to understand through experience what it takes to put on an epic ultra that will be both challenging and memorable. Tess Geddes, operations and event director, has ran in many ultras, including Marathon Des Sables in Morocco, the Sahara Race in Egypt, Atacama Crossing in Chile, the Libyan Challenge (twice), the Desafio al Desierto in Argentina, as well as races in France, the Philippines and the US. Terry Madl, logistics and event director, has completed the Badwater Ultramarathon, as well as the Marathon Des Sables three times.

Mandy Miller, a registered competitor from the US, had met Tess Geddes at a previous event.  “I've known Grand to Grand Race Director Tess Geddes since we met at Marathon des Sables in 2009 and I know her desire to put on the optimal runner experience. As a runner and consummate stage racer herself, she knows what matters and is very able to figure out how to produce a challenging and safe race which delivers the experience of a lifetime.” 

While being part of an event of this magnitude is expected to be rewarding enough, many of the competitors have also committed to make it rewarding for other as well. 17 competitors are raising money for 10 charities during the event. The G2G is also contributing a portion of their profits to Impossible 2 Possible (Ray Zahab’s charity that helps to empower young people to become active and follow their dreams) and the Kane County Trail Development committee.

For more information on the Grand to Grand Ultra, visit their website at: www.g2gultra.com

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