It doesn’t matter if you can run a marathon.

Who care's if you can run a marathon.

Can you run a marathon?  Do you think that means you’re in enough shape to hike the Grand Canyon?  THINK AGAIN! 

To a marathon runner, the three main corridor trails are relatively short.  The South Kaibab trail is 7 miles, the Bright Angel Trail is 10 miles, and the North Kaibab Trail is 14 miles.  A marathon is 26 miles, so you can see that to a runner, these trails should be “easy”.  This is very far from the truth.

Grand Canyon Flyer

Grand Canyon Trail head Notice

Posted at the beginning of these trails is a public announcement notice that tells the story of Margaret Bradley, a Boston Marathon runner that died at the Grand Canyon while attempting to run a 27 mile trail run in one day.  Bradley was an All American athlete at her university and had completed the Boston Marathon 3 months prior to her Grand Canyon run.  According to the public announcement notice, Bradley was unprepared for the extreme heat, excessive distance, and excessive water.  Bradley brought with her 1.5 liters of water, two energy bars, and 1 apple!

This tragic story is one of hundreds of other stories of people who overestimate their own capabilities and underestimate the Grand Canyon.

The notice lists the following tips when hiking the Grand Canyon:

These simple tips can save your life!

  •  Have a Plan:  Plan ahead for the unexpected.  Know where you’re going, the length of  your route, and where to obtain water.  Check the weather forecast.  Leave your itinerary with a reliable person and report in when you return.  It can take twice as long to hike up as it is to hike down.
  • Stay Cool:  Avoid hiking between the hours of 10 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. when there is little shade on the trails.  If possible, wet your shirt and hat to stay cool through evaporation.  Hike during the cooler parts of the day.
  • Stay Together:  Always keep your hiking group together.  Never leave anyone behind.  Don’t forget:  YOU are responsible for your safety.
  • Refuel and Rehydrate:  Take twice as much food as you normally would, including high calorie salty foods.  The only trail with reliable water sources is Bright Angel Trail.  Stay hydrated by drinking often, even before you feel thirsty.
  • Rest:  Rest periodically in the shade with your feet elevated.  Enjoy a drink of water and some snacks.  Hiking in the canyon is strenuous even for those that are fit.  Do not hike beyond your abilities. 

Don’t hike the Grand Canyon without this.

Ironically, I am currently training to run a half marathon. Like hiking the Grand Canyon, running a marathon requires a lot of preparation and training. By no means am I relying soley on my running to prepare for the hike. However, running does provide a lot of benefits that will help carry me into preparing for the hike like improving my cardio and stamina. I’ve also discovered that running and hiking both require a high level of mental strength which is very important. (I’ll cover that in another post.) If running a marathon is also on your list of challenges you want to accomplish, check out, Marathon Running for Beginners it contains all the information you need to get you started on your training.

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Happy Hiking!

- Canyon Hiker