What's an “ultra”? What's “self-supported”? What's “stage race”?
Hello and welcome to the world's most interesting coverage of the Grand 2 Grand Ultra. Before we dive right in, there is some terminology that y'all need to be familiar with. I'll be your guide for this G2G glossary, combining entertainment with information. In theory.
Ultra: short for “ultra marathon”. Refers to any running/walking event that is longer than the traditional marathon of 42.something kilometres. These are either distance or time based events, the most common being: 50km, 100km, 50 miles, 100 miles, 12 hours, and 24 hours. From here they range up to the realm of the utterly nuts, with the pinnacle, in my humble opinion, being the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race. “The course is 3,100 miles (4,989 km) long. Runners negotiate 5649 laps of one extended city block in Jamaica, Queens ... The runners have 52 days in which to complete the distance - an average of 60.78 miles (97.82 km) every day.”
Stage Race: The Grand 2 Grand is what's called a stage race. This means that instead of going on non-stop from start to finish like an adventure race, the course is divided into stages of varying lengths with rest/sleep in between. It's similar to the Tour de France except that the stages here will be considerably longer in terms of duration.
Self-supported: Racers must carry with them everything they will need to complete the race distance. For this race, the exceptions are water, electrolytes, and tents, all of which will be supplied by the race organizers. Racers need to tread the fine line between carrying too much weight and not carrying enough. Later on I'll explore what kinds of exotic gear and goodies go into the day-packs of these racers.
I think that about covers it. Any other lingo or big words that I use from now on I'll make sure to explain, after I look them up myself.
A Quick Note on the Vegas Airport
It has more slot machines than Casino Niagara. I am fairly confident in asserting that they take up more square footage than anything else in the terminals.
I have a WHAT?
“A driver.” Collin the race director repeated. “Come and meet your driver. His name is Craig, he's real friendly. You guys will have fun. That's his Jeep Wrangler over there. It'll be your personal vehicle for the duration of the event.”
My what now? I have a car and a driver? This is soooooooooooooo cool! I'm like a rock star!
If you don't believe me, here are some photos of Craig and his Jeep.
Okay, it's just one photo and there's no sign of Craig. This site is, as I said when you came in, under construction. I am giving myself temporary and huge "artistic license" during this time of flux.
Craig has turned out to be a wonderful source of colourful commentary, so much so that I've decided to create a series called “Our Daily Craig”.
Craig's version of the famous “magnificent desolation” description of the moon, upon seeing the flat scrub desert near the Canyon. “You could fire off a canon here and not hit shit.”
“They have one of these running races in Viet Nam too. I ran in Viet Nam too, but it was a different kind of runnin'” Craig was a US Marine back in the day.
“It's gonna get colder than a well-digger's butt out here tonight.” I have no idea.
Upon seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time: “Well ship-shit, ain't that neat.” Honest.
We've Lost Craig
Sadly, on the morning of stage 3 we lost Craig the driver. It's nothing serious, but his old hip injury has been paining him worse and worse with each day he spends sitting in the Jeep, driving over rugged “roads”, and sleeping on mats. The last night was so bad that his tent-mates moved him onto one of the camp crew cots, but to no avail. I'll miss him as a driver and as a person. He certainly brought a unique outlook on things to my race experience.
Thanks Craig – feel better and I'll see you in Vegas.