Run the Grand Canyon
An increasingly popular but unforgiving route
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What it is: A nine-mile out-and-back from the South Rim to Indian Garden along the Bright Angel Trail.
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Why it’s worth it: Running in the Grand Canyon has become extremely popular over the past five years, and for good reason. Runners pass through millions of years of geology, and the views of the canyon and Colorado River are so spectacular, people often describe the experience as spiritual.
How to prep: Rob Krar, who holds two speed records in the canyon, recommends that runners focus on downhills in training—the 3,050-foot descent beats up quads more than people expect. Krar’s advice for first-time Grand Canyon runners is humility: the combination of high altitude (6,850 feet at the rim) and high temperatures near Indian Garden results in frequent medical evacuations of runners and hikers. “The Grand Canyon is very unforgiving, and erring on the side of caution is prudent,” he says. As more runners target the canyon, park officials have grown increasingly concerned about heat exhaustion and crowding on the trails. In spring and summer, there are several places to refill water, including Indian Garden, but it’s a good idea to carry more than you think you’ll need. Only organized groups need permits.