Our unstoppable brand ambassador Amy has appeared in this blog before in ____ She started out trying to get fit - years ago, and discovered in the process that she loved being an endurance athlete, going from running 1 mile, to 5 miles, to 25 miles, to 50+ miles... Now an ultra-marathoner, Amy does incredible race challenges that most of us can barely imagine doing.
She and her husband David spend most of their year in their Sprinter van, going from one ultra event to the next. I love talking to Amy, even though she makes me feel like a total couch slug: she's just plain inspiring, and it's so fun to hear the kind of endurance adventures she gets up to. We haven't checked in with her since the beginning of the pandemic. How has #vanlife been? Let's find out.
2020 presented all of us with difficult challenges, and no one was immune to the changes that the pandemic thrust upon us. Living in a van might seem simple to some (note from Kristina: not really), but even without a pandemic it has its issues.
Outer van has no bathroom or shower and a very small refrigerator, so we rely on public locations - such as YMCA and swimming pools - for showers and we visit the grocery store almost daily. As the pandemic spread across the country and everything began to shut down this became more and more difficult, and we had to hunker down for a while with friends. We spent 9 weeks in Asheville, NC; 8 weeks in Colorado and ultimately landed in beautiful Sisters, Oregon for almost 6 months.
Now that things are starting to open we are finally back on the road. Our first stop was northern California where we cheered on a friend at the Canyons 100k ultramarathon endurance race, which is a 63 mile long trail running event. While we were there we got to run on some of the Western States 100 trail.
From there we headed to the Grand Canyon for a planned one day double crossing of the canyon, also known as the Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim. This is approximately 46-48 miles with 10-11,000 feet of climbing. We were planning for the 1st of May, a day that was going to see some very high temperatures at the bottom of the canyon.
We left at 3:30am with an anticipated run time of around 15-17 hours. Well, my day did not go as planned. At around mile 2 as we descended into the canyon along the South Kaibab trail, I tripped and took a very hard fall.
If you have ever been to the Grand Canyon, you know how incredibly rocky it is. I fell on some rocks, hitting my left hand and right knee hard. I continued down the trail but it did not take long to realize that a double crossing was not in the cards for me that day. I was moving slow and had significant pain in my knee. Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim is difficult on a good day, so risking my health and well being along with my friends was not worth it. The Grand Canyon will always be there!!
I decided to make the trek down to Phantom Ranch and back up to the South Rim via the Bright Angel trail, 18 miles total. My husband accompanied me and the other 3 people in our group went on to complete the double crossing. It was not the day I wanted but sh*t happens. I had bigger things to think about too.
I have been training hard and working toward my first 100 mile race at the end of May. I did not want to jeopardize all my training or even getting to the start line, so the next 2 weeks consisted of resting my knee as much as possible.
While I was resting, David and I were also "crewing" for a friend of ours who was racing the Cocodona 250, which is a 257 mile trail race through the desert and mountains of Arizona. This means we followed her from aid station to aid station, making sure she had everything she needed to complete this daunting race.
We had an incredible time- meeting so many like minded folks and helping someone achieve their goals. I highly recommend being a part of an ultra race in some capacity- it will inspire and motivate you more than you can imagine.
After Cocodona we had some time to play in Flagstaff and Sedona. We have explored both in the past but really love this area so we were excited we were able to spend some more time.
We hiked to the top of Humphreys Peak, at over 12,000 it is the highest peak in Arizona, and played in the red rocks of Sedona. That region of the country never gets old and is definitely one of our most favorite places to visit. After some time in the mountains and red rocks we went our separate ways for a few days. David went to South Carolina to visit his children and I went to Seattle to see my parents. Arriving back in Arizona, we made our way to Utah where I would toe the line at my first 100 mile trail run, Bryce Canyon Ultras 100.
Stay tuned- in a few weeks, we'll write about how Amy did at Bryce Canyon.