Written by Telma Altoon

My background:
I have been running and competing since I was a child. This includes competitions through high school and college in the PAC 10 at
that time. I am the only Armenian ultramarathoner on record so far entering these events and completing them. The boredom of road racing has catapulted me into ultras 30 miles and longer. Grand to Grand is my first multi day experience and has left an incredible
impression on me as a first stage race particularly because of the directors, the organization and staff. I also love nature and the outdoors and love to explore the places where some of these stage races take place.
Grand to Grand Experience :
The social aspects of G2G are indescribable. You are thrown together with a bunch of strangers and instantly bond and attract while
exploring and going through the process and the grueling challenge together. I would describe the social aspect as wonderful, exciting, intimate, rewarding and surprising.
The emotional aspects of the race are intense. Each athlete is initially there to satisfy their own personal need and reasons as
to why they are there, however, during the process, the emotional intensity of the challenge and rewards give you completely different reasons as to why you are there. The emotional bonds formed between tent mates or other athletes that you end up spending
hours with on the road is indescribable as well.  When humans are faced with such arduous tasks, they bond for either physical survival or emotional survival.   I felt both took place in high intensity at Grand to Grand. During the process, the assistance
of any kind that you get from staff and volunteers also impacts you probably forever. Kindness and compassion seen even for a minute or two at the aid stations lasts a life time.
The physical aspects of the race are very difficult. The athletic challenge of each course and terrain is difficult but if trained
properly, it should be very doable. The hardest part of the physical challenge for me is the nutrition in a self-sustaining race. Having to survive on freeze dried food and having your body pushed to its limits with that limited resource was very difficult
for me but I did love the challenge of it. However, for this reason I may look for and try multi day ultras wherein some food is supplied, such as, Al Andalus Ultimate in Spain or Transrockies in Colorado. For many the physical aspect of the race makes or breaks the event especially when dealing with serious injuries. For me personally, injuries were not an issue
but for one or two small blisters.
The course was marked real well and thoroughly from beginning to end of all 170 miles. Although this event is a self-sustaining event
and aid stations are not stocked with food and supplies, the volunteers and their assistance at the stations with just water made up any necessity you could want or need. Each aid station was a boost and a joy to run to and through. The volunteers boosted
and raised our spirits and really pumped each athlete.
The Terrain at the grand canyon was of course breathtaking and beautiful and each sight was a postcard.
My Training for Grand to Grand :
My training consisted of the traditional ultra-marathon training. Two weekly long runs back to back, usually exceeding more than
12 miles each. Or 25-30 miler once weekly for the weekly long run. One day of speed work averaging 4-5  miles. The rest of the days averaging 4-10 miles with one day rest. Of course competitions through-out the year in training for the major event. I also
included hill repeats 4 weeks prior to the event. What I would recommend to others that I do not do, is weight training and upper body as well as core work. I believe part of the terrain required that sort of strength and those who were thicker and stronger
benefited from it as opposed to a traditional road runner like me.
The Equipment:
Overall, the equipment is crucial to survival of the self-sustaining portion of the Grand to Grand. And having the lightest and some
of the best equipment also is a benefit. Some of the equipment I personally already had from other ultras and training in the cold or being outdoors. I do recommend purchasing the items months prior and allowing comfort and use to set in with each item. I personally spent well over a $1,000 on the equipment and it served me real well.

I placed 15 th in women’s ranking and I believe 4 th in my age group. (have to double check the official results)
I have walked away with such an immense experience from Grand to Grand that I cannot wait to go back and either run it again and improve my
total standing and time and/or go there to assist and volunteer.