Running across the Grand Canyon and back is a bucket list adventure for a lot of runners. Known simply as Rim to Rim to Rim or R2R2R, it’s a rugged 42-mile trail run with more than 21,000 feet of vertical change. It’s an epic adventure, no matter how fast you run. For a strong, fit trail runner, it’s not uncommon for it to take 9 to 14 hours to complete the journey.
On Nov. 15, Cat Bradley set a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, putting an impressive cap on what has already been a breakout year for the 25-year-old Salomon athlete. Bradley completed the out-and-back run on the South Kaibab and North Kaibab trails in 7:52:20, besting the previous women’s record set by Bethany Lewis in 2011 by more than 20 minutes. The overall FKT for the route is 5:55:20, set by Jim Walmsley in 2016.
Bradley had attempted the R2R2R a few years ago without ideal results and always planned to come back and try it again.
“I’m excited,” Bradley said. “This attempt went well. It was by no means a perfect day, but it feels so good to have finally made this goal happen.”
Fellow elite ultrarunner Clare Gallagher wrote a great piece about Bradley’s obsession about the Grand Canyon FKT for Outside Magazine and is definitely worth a read.
Over the last 12 months, Bradley, of Boulder, Colorado, has proven herself an unstoppable force in the trail and ultrarunning scene. In addition to her win at Western States 100 in June, Bradley set a course record at the Rio Del Lago 100 Miler in November 2016 and won at the Canyons Endurance Runs 100K in April 2017.
“Cat is tenacious but also gracious,” said her boyfriend, Ryan Lassen, Salomon’s U.S. community marketing manager. “She is simply the toughest runner I have ever witnessed, as far as her ability to suffer and dig deep. When it comes time to dig deep, she doesn’t buckle; she gets stronger.”
[Bradley enjoyed mild weather in the Grand Canyon and was slowed only by two mule trains on the way up South Kaibab Trail, costing her approximately 10 minutes. She completed the FKT in a pair of the Salomon Sense Pro Max shoes, the Agile Skort and the women’s S/Lab Exo SS Tee.]