Sunday, August 12, 2007

Marathon Man

I was totally faking the smile at the airport. I was apprehensive...not that he couldn't make it, but that he was alone with no means to summon help, no one looking out for him, no good 'worst case scenario' plan. Though I've privately cried off my mascara, please note I'm wearing need for him to see me hysterical or anything.

So here he is at the North Rim at 3:30 am, full of piss and vinegar. And adrenaline.

After almost four hours running downhill mostly in the dark for 14 miles, he arrived at the footbridge over the Colorado River. It was a welcome sight. He got off a phone call to me (must have been a landline at Phantom Ranch), to let me know he made it through the night. His voice sounded husky and dry, but upbeat. I felt a lot better knowing that the mountain lions had not eaten him. He did see a bobcat though, along with dozens of deer. And a pterodactyl.

OK, maybe it wasn't a pterodactyl. But it was big.

As seen from above. That's an angry-looking river.

The canyon walls dive straight into the water. For a size comparison, a person would hardly be visible on the rock wall. That's the thing about the's so vast, but the scale of it is hard to gauge, and it certainly doesn't ever come through in pictures.

There's not a lot of shade on the switchbacks of the Bright Angel Trail.

You really want to keep focused on the trail. If you don't ... it's a long way down.

He's looking just a little bit deranged, I think. The sun is starting to fry his brain.

Looking back at the route he's travelled. The trail runs inside that gash in front of you, across the canyon.

The last 2 miles were brutal. He was throwing up and of course feeling the effects of heat, fatigue, altitude, jet lag, dehydration... you name it. But he kept going, though his pace was a crawl; he had to stop every hundred yards to rest. This is the sign that greeted him after 11 hours and 45 minutes, at the top of the South Rim.

He reports that it was the hardest thing he's ever done. I knew he could do it. After the stuff he's done adventure racing I felt confident in his ability and preparation. But gosh, it's nice to have him back in one piece!


carrie said...

I can't believe he did that! The pictures make it so much more REAL than reading about it. No wonder you were worried. But WOW! What an accomplishment!

Ianqui said...

Wow. That's amazing. Thanks for sharing the stories and pictures. These crazy feats of ultimate athletes are always so interesting.

LauraLiz said...

I'm speechless. Afraid to ask where he goes from here. :-)

jayfish said...

great job! (but inside i think he's nuts!)


my15minutes said...

Oh, yeah, he's nuts. No doubt about it. But if it makes him happy, I'm happy. He takes bigger risks since becoming an adventure athlete; but he feels more alive, and there's something to be said for that, I think. We have different ideas of what we consider fun. :-)

Susanne B. said...

Good for him! That Bright Angel Trail is BRUTAL -- I heard some rangers talking about it when we were there last September.

SusansPlace said...

Incredible...completely amazing. Congratulations doesn't seem enough, but tell him anyway. :-)


jo(e) said...

Wow. I know that trail and how hot it gets there this time of year and .... well, wow.

He must have had all kinds of adrenaline racing through his veins.

I love seeing the photos.

julieunplugged said...

Very cool! What a neat series of shots. Guest blogger award to Bill!

Sentient Marrow said...

Glad he made it
that is an incredible feat of manhood (love that title)

just wanted to stop and say, Hi

Dancingirl365 said...

Amazing. What a feat! How's he doing now? I know it's so hard to capture the scale in photos- the Grand Canyon is so immense.

Colleen said...

Quite an accomplishment. Why on earth someone would intentionally partake in an activity that causes them to barf is beyond me ~ but heck, a lot of people don't even understand why I run the piddling amount I run. Who knows *why* we do the things we do? Just different ways to attack life, I s'pose! : )

MaryD said...

Oh my goodness. Accomplishment for him and for you (letting him do it without showing your hysteria!) Well, I can only say, Dakar beckons!