Grand Canyon R2R2R – October 2016

United Forever. We'll be back!

R2R2R – Double crossing of the Grand Canyon
October 10, 2016 marked our 2nd time taking on this EPIC trail run – EPIC is the one word that can best describe an adventure of this magnitude. The Grand Canyon is one of those places that pictures don’t do it justice. You need to be present to understand the sheer magnitude of this landscape as it welcomes you to leap out and explore it’s vast beauty.

If you look closely, you can see the North Rim – Really!

The Stats
We knew there would be challenges given the terrain, self-supported nature of the run, distance and elevation profile, but we were ready. R2R2R is an extremely difficult task, with 22,000ft of elevation change – 11,000ft up vertically – but if you think about it as ‘only two hills’, it looks pretty simple on paper. Run down the South Rim, across the Canyon, then up the North Rim – take a picture – then turn around and go back. Easy enough, right?  Well, not so much.

The descent down the South Rim drops 5,000ft in the first 8km’s (5 miles) to the Colorado River, the next 17km’s (10.6 miles) takes you across the canyon over undulating hills, with the 8.6km (5.4 mile) ascent to the North Rim climbing 6,000ft up – and that is less than half the total run. Add to that the altitude on both rims, combined limited water resources, no cell service, and zero support makes for a dangerous adventure.  

Arrival at the South Rim – we are ready, again!

The Trip
We arrived in Vegas late on Saturday Oct 8th, and after a short sleep, we were venturing down the highway towards the Grand Canyon National Park. We arrived on Saturday afternoon, and knew the moment we pulled up to the edge of the South Rim why we had to come back for another double crossing – the Grand Canyon was begging us to venture out and remind us of it’s power.

Once settled in at the Maswik Lodge, we were joined by our Ultra Ohana family of Dave Ahrens and Amanda Weil who wanted to come along and see the canyon for themselves, and partake in some of the run. Dave was also accompanied by his partner Kirk Beckwith, so we had a new member to introduce to our world of ultra-crazy. 

Photo-2016-10-09,-5-28-50-PM.jpgA plan was quickly hatched for Kev & I to depart the by 4:30am from the South Kaibab Trailhead, and have Dave and Amanda run down to meet us at the Colorado River on our ascent back up to the South Rim on the return trip. 

The Route
On this crossing, we would head down South Kaibab (in the dark), then cross the Colorado over Black Bridge, continue past Bright Angel Campground, through Phantom Ranch, Box Canyon, Cottonwood, and up the North Kaibab trail to the top of the North Rim, after which, we would head back down the North Kaibab trail and retrace our path where we would meet up with Dave and Amanda, and take the Bright Angel trail up and out to the South Rim. 

This was Dave & Amanda’s first run into the canyon, so they were excited to make it down to the Colorado river, and cross over Silver Bridge to meet us as we were coming back up. They would be our support crew – think ‘personal entertainment system’ – to help us on the final ascent up the South Rim. Their run would cover 27.6km’s (17 miles) with 10,000 feet of elevation change, 5,000 ft of which would be straight uphill for the last 5 miles! 

Final Prep & Gear Choice
The Maswik is located at the top of the Bright Angel trail, so located near our final exit point of the canyon. After a lovely dinner at the Bright Angel dining room, we headed to the lodge and did our final gear prep before turning in for the night. For shoes, we chose to go with our Skechers GOTrail Ultras for this run adventure, since they offered excellent traction, and the additional support needed given the terrain and distance. We had tested with these at the various Wanderlust hikes we lead in Tremblant this year, and they performed beautifully in all conditions so they were the obvious choice. For clothing, it was our tried and true lululemon run commute gear we had worn over several weeks of build. Kev’s loves his 5′ Surge Shorts and Mental Vent Tank, and for Kat it was the Run Times Shorts and Swiftly Tech T paired with the Energy Bra.  For nutrition, we had our custom Infinit formulas measured out and pre-packed, ready to add into our hydration packs at the planned water stops.

With the gear set, we were ready to GO. What would the next 24 hours hold for us?

The R2R2R
We were awake by 2:58am and began our nutrition intake and final gear cross-check. Amanda was our designated driver to the drop-point about 5 miles from the village, and brought us out to the South Kaibab trailhead by 4:30am as planned. 

4:30am GO TIME!


Descending the South Kaibab Trail. The Colorado River down below…



South Kaibab Trail view as the sun rises. Getting Closer to the River.
The Skechers GOTrail Ultra’s belong here!
Almost at the bottom… we can see Black Bridge over the Colorado!
Headed through the tunnel…
Crossing the Colorado!
Black Bridge…

The South Kaibab trail is quite steep, so the descent in the dark was rather tricky as we carefully descended past Ooh-Aah and Skeleton Point, not wanting to make any early mistakes. The first few hours were spent traversing the tight switchbacks winding down to the river. Daylight was on the horizon as we reached Black Bridge, and we made our first fuel stop to reload at Bright Angel Campground, 11.2km (7 miles) into the run. 

Box Canyon
Heading to Cottonwood… The North Rim far up and away in the distance!
Through Cottonwood

Onward through Box Canyon and out into the heat and sunshine through Cottonwood. Our next pitstop would be at 25km (15.5 miles) into the run as we reached the Pump House. Once reloaded and refreshed, we began the winding 8.6km (5.4 miles) ascent up towards the North rim, past Ribbon Falls, through the Supai tunnel and up past the Coconino Overlook. As we climbed up and out to the North Rim, we were reminded of the altitude and thinner air that 7000ft brings, 33.6km (21 miles) into the run.

Made it to the Pump House, the ascent to the North Rim is next!
Heading up to the North Rim… past Roaring Springs and the Supai Tunnel.
Made it to the North Rim!

Once at the top, we reloaded our packs, and with the luck of a weak cell signal, were able to send off a message to our support crew that we had indeed made it to the North Rim. At this point, we were running an hour or so behind schedule as it was 12:10pm. We received an incoming message that Dave & Amanda still planned to meet us at the Colorado, so we had a great reason to start the descent ahead of the mule train, and make our way back across to the South Rim.

On our way back down – through Billions of years of rock…
On our way back, headed into Box Canyon.

Given our updated status, Dave and Amanda set out at 1:45pm and flew down the Bright Angel trail and made it to the Colorado in 1h45 minutes! They continued on through the Bright Angel Campground and onwards to Phantom Ranch where they were able to get some well eared lemonade. They continued running into Box Canyon just as we were running through at 4:30pm. Cheers of joy and excitement greeted us as we saw each other! 

Devil’s Crorkscrew – aka ‘The Crack’
WE FOUND THEM… and we’re at the Colorado again!
Through Box Canyon – TEAM WORK!
Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel
Dave leading the charge!
We can see the South Rim off in the distance, up, up, up!

At this point, we were 56km’s (34.8 miles) into our journey with another 17.2km’s (10.7 miles) to go, so began our way back through Phantom Ranch making another fuel stop before heading back across the Colorado, stopping to savour a bit of the view of this mighty-majestic river on our return.

The sun had set as the view of the South Rim appeared in the far distance. By the time we reached the beginning of the climb up the Devil’s Corkscrew, nightfall was upon us, so out came the headlamps, as did the ‘bats’! Dave’s screams could be heard echoing through the canyon walls as we ran through the darkness up towards Indian Gardens. Heavy rains the week prior to our arrival had lead to some areas of the trail being washed out, so we proceeded with caution over the various water crossings. At this point, things were getting a bit tough for all of us, so we worked to motivate and encourage each other as we made our way up and onto the last section of the Bright Angel trail. Up past 3mile rest house, 1.5 miles rest house, then up and out of the deep abyss. Kirk was waiting with 1/4 mile left to go on the trail, and his reassurance that we were near the top elevated our spirits. We emerged from the Bright Angel Trailhead together in darkness, utterly in awe of our accomplishment – 73.2km (45.5miles) and 17 hours of non-stop running.

Skechers GOTrail Ultras – our shoe of choice for EPIC adventures!

The Celebration
Back at the hotel, caked in 2 millions of years of red trail dust, celebratory beers and several pizzas were in order. This was significant, not only to mark the completion of our adventure, but to give thanks for the bonds of family, friendship and accomplishment – it was Thanksgiving after all! 

No matter how prepared you are for something of this magnitude, you can never be sure of how things will play out, or what Mother Nature may have in store for you on the given day. Luckily we had great conditions and fabulous support, which made it not only a comforting and safe double crossing, but a very enjoyable one as well. We learned so much on this double-crossing and have a greater understanding of the canyon as a whole, as well as our abilities.

Million Dollar View@ the South Rim!

Taking It In
The next day as we picnicked rim side, we were awestruck at the beauty of the canyon, and knew we would never see it the same way again. Having flung ourselves over the edge, bravely forging ahead to challenge the impossible, there we stood, shining bright in awe of our accomplishments. To finish off our experience, we dined together at the El Tovar Lodge to complete the ohana family gathering. 

Sharing something like this with others only strengthens the bonds of family friendship which will undoubtedly leave a lasting memory to share for years to come. We all were on our own personal quest, and will carry back great memories in our minds from this shared experience.

When you truly test your mental and physical abilities and push yourself beyond anything you think is possible, it scrapes the bottom of your soul and becomes a part of you.

They say : “Every trips holds the potential to be life-changing, the most valuable stuff you can bring back home doesn’t always take up space in your luggage” – and in this case, it definitely applies.

We left the canyon richer than when we arrived, knowing the limits in life are only those we set upon ourselves, with a promise to return. While we may have little control over the length of our lives, we certainly have control over the depth of it. Until next time.

United Forever. We’ll be back!

Skechers 2016 #getyourmilesin

Just as we began to ramp up our spring training miles for the 2016 Boston and London Marathons, the newest models in the Skechers Performance lineup arrived at our doorstep! Given the excellent performance of the 2015 models, we were excited to see what changes the team had incorporated into in the newest incarnations.

As soon as we opened the boxes, it was obvious that Skechers has been taking serious strides in product development – listening to us as runners and what we desire in a shoe. Throughout the line, they continue to impress us with extremely comfortable, lightweight shoes, geared towards a performance purpose.

Immediately apparent was the integration of breathable seamless uppers, and re-engineered features in the sole construction. We were excited to get laced up and head out the door, so here’s our take on how each shoe fits in with our run objectives this season.

GOrun4 – The original ‘Speed Demongets ever fasterslice_skechers_k&k4
When we first tested out the GOrun4 last year, it was clearly our ‘speed-demon’ of choice for the 2015 season. It surpassed all of our expectations and performed beautifully in a variety of conditions.  We raced in this model at several Half Ironman and Half Marathon events and did all of our speed work in these. It provided a great overall race/performance fit and feel, and was light as air. This was a model we thought couldn’t get any better, but when we tried out the latest version, we knew why it had become the 2016 Runner’s World Editor’s Choice.

The new GOknit mesh one-piece upper is soft and seamless, providing a smooth sock-like feel, and comfortable and supportive fit. The re-designed flexible ‘Resalyte’ midsole provides perfect amount of cushioning balanced with impact protection.  The modified outer edge ‘pods’ add durability and we found them to have a new super grippy type of traction that translated to straight-line speed!

This is an incredible shoe, and with a 4mm drop that promotes a mid-foot strike, ‘Quick-Fit’ portal and flexible heel-cup for quick transitions, this will remain our preferred mid-distance race shoe.

GOride 5 – Reinventedslice_skechers_k&krideThe GOride 3 was the first Skechers model we tested back in 2014, so it’s been remarkable to see how the team at Skechers have developed it over the past two years. This shoe has always been comfortable right out of the box, and the next generation of the GOride doesn’t disappoint.

In addition to a completely new seamless upper, with breathable side panels and more stability, we found the redesigned sole to have more cushioning and greater impact protection. The shoe also felt much more responsive, thanks to the new ‘Resalyte’ compound, and GOimpulse Sensors on the outsole, which offered flex and grip for a very smooth and responsive run experience. It also offers generous space in the fore-foot, so more room for your toes to spread out a bit. It also incorporates the 4mm heel drop design, and promotes a mid-foot strike for fluid transition and stride efficiency.

The GOride has always been an extremely comfortable shoe, almost disappearing on your foot, so the new GOride 5 will be our mid-distance ‘go-to’ training shoe when the runs are longer and we’re looking for maximum comfort.

Forza – Stability/Distance Kingslice_skechers_k&kforza
The same comfort found in the GOride and GOrun’s can be felt at the heart of the Forza, with this model offering superior stability and a well cushioned ride. The Forza also incorporates a breathable seamless mesh upper and two-part Resalyte midsole, for a very smooth heel to toe transition.

It features an 8mm drop, and we found this shoe to be super-lightweight with an excellent response right out of the box.  The heel cup on the Forza is moulded and well-padded for a more traditional style fit as well, so it really hugs your foot.

The Forza is a great choice for those looking to transition into the Skechers brand and like a traditional style of running shoe. Comfort and stability come together in this lightweight performance machine, making it our model of choice for long training runs.

In Summary
All of the Skechers shoes in the Performance line are extremely lightweight and super comfortable on the inside – with no stitching and great breathability. The upper is very flexible so the shoe feels unrestricted, with no hotspots or pressure. The re-engineered soles offer more cushion and traction with a nice mix of stability where needed. As a bonus, we absolutely LOVE the stock ‘flat-wound’ stretch laces!k&kduo.jpgOverall, these shoes offer exceptional performance in and impressive lineup of models, especially if you add the Ultra Road into the mix! Skechers have taken things to the next level, and tailored their Performance lineup to cater to all running styles and distances.

As we log longer mileage over the summer, we’ll be extensively testing the Ultra Trail model as we gear up for a double crossing of the Grand Canyon this fall – stay tuned!kat_skechers_16-4_web

We give a ship – Part II

Canada – The Winter Wonderland
Growing up in Eastern Canada means half the year is spent in cold and snowy conditions, making it challenging for those athletes who like to get outside. Luckily, Kat’s Scottish heritage has given her a genetic predisposition battling a damp climate, and Kev was raised by a father with a love of cross-country skiing – so being outdoors in winter has never been a deterrent for us.

kev_kat_winter_running2While running in Montreal in the winter does post some challenges, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you have vacationed at the seaside from time to time, then running along the beach in ankle deep sand will give you a good idea of what our winter training challenges are like.

Faced with moderate temperatures ranging from -10C to 15C, layering our favourite lululemon gear and optimizing our Skechers shoe choice becomes key. Once kitted out appropriately, it’s just a matter of adapting to the conditions with a focus on keeping stride-length short and leg-turnover high. Having a goal of running two World Major Marathons just 6 days apart – Boston and London – has given us plenty of motivation to get us out the door to train every day.

Since we had raced in the Ultraman World Championships this past November, we had a solid endurance base to build upon, so we were able to turn our focus on speed and intensity. We even entered a local 5K race in February, just to get out and have some fun in a race setting with like-minded friends and fellow athletes. It was a great way to gauge fitness and build confidence towards the longer races coming up.

We also lead a RunClub for the lululemon Fairview store here in Montreal, so that’s a great motivator to get out and help others work on technique and prepare for the race season ahead. We love interacting and engaging with others at all levels and are planning to do shake-out runs with the lululemon stores in Boston and London before both marathons!

kev_kat_winter_runningAs our training gains momentum, we are looking forward to warmer temperatures and longer training days as winter gives way to spring. Meanwhile, we’ll try to keep the turnover of our feet speedy on the city streets of Montreal in anticipation of our marathon adventures – being sure to have a laugh or two along the way!

We are thrilled to be running the London Marathon on behalf of the Royal Museums Greenwich to help raise funds towards the restoration of the Cutty Sark. If you would like to support our efforts, please visit our JustGiving page at: – Thank you!

We give a ship!


Running the ‘double’ for Cutty Sark – Boston & London 2016

This April, we will be taking on the challenge of running the Boston and London Marathons back to back – just 6 days apart, so we wanted to do something special to mark this occasion.

Giving back to the community has always been important to us, and the Royal Museums of Greenwich in London is giving us an opportunity to put our energy towards something tangible that has stood the test of time. Enter Cutty Sark.

Cutty Sark was built in Scotland in 1869 and is the world’s only surviving extreme clipper. In her time, she was an important lifeline for transporting goods between the major ports of call. Her travels have taken her from London to Shanghai, carrying large amounts of wine, spirits and beer, with the return voyages bringing back million pounds of tea. Over time, she also carried coal, jute and castor oil from Calcutta to Melbourne, and wool from Australia to England. She now resides in Greenwich London under the care of the Royal Museums Greenwich, as a memorial to the Merchant Navy and reminder of our past.

We ‘give a ship’!

We were intrigued by the rich history of this magnificent ship, and when we learned of the ongoing preservation effort, we wanted to jump-on-board and support this project. It’s a tangible artifact that we can see and touch, and the funds we help raise will be going towards restoring the ships lifeboats, navigation lamps, Captain’s gig, and chicken coops, as well as varnishing the ships original wooden structure.

Our Boston-London Marathon adventure will surely test our strength and resilience, but we’ll channel the immense energy of Cutty Sark to propel us on our journey and hope to give something back to her in exchange! We hope you will support our effort to help preserve this landmark for the future generations by donating to our Just Giving page at :

Skechers Performance = Speedy Feet!

Our 2015 race season was planned to accommodate a late season build – racing the New York City Marathon on Nov 1st, then taking on the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii from Nov 27-29th

We chose to do a progressive build towards the November targets by pacing some friends in a few half marathons, racing the 5150 in Tremblant, as well as doing two half Ironmans in September – all for fun and fitness. The ‘lead-up’ races brought in some focused speed-work, and were planned to land right in the midst of our final build phase.kat_skechersjoy_web
The great thing about the variety of races and mileage we laid out was that it gave us a perfect opportunity to thoroughly test various models of the Skechers Performance lineup – both in training and race settings. Shoe rotation is a great tactic for injury prevention, so being able to switch pairs often – especially for those ultra-long two-a-day run sessions, was a major bonus for us this year!

So, after logging several training and race miles in 2015 thus far, here’s our impression of the Skechers Performance lineup:

GOrun4 – The Speed Demon
If you are looking for a speed-demon, then the GOrun4 is for you. It’s lightweight, fits like a glove, and offers enough cushioning to easily take you into the Half Marathon distance.  We love the heel cup design – it’s flexible and thin so doesn’t even feel like it’s there – and the ‘Quick-Fit’ portal makes slipping these on quickly in triathlon transitions a breeze!  The GOrun4’s feature a flexible ‘Resalyte’ midsole and rubber ‘pods’ on out outer edges for durability.  We love their grippy traction on the road, as well as the 4 mm drop, offering superior fit and function.

In the races we’ve done this year, the breathability and drainage capabilities of the GOrun4’s have surpassed our expectations.  We’ve raced in a variety of conditions, from hot humid 41C weather at the Canadian Iron113, then pouring rain and 15C at the Demi-Esprit – every time the GOrun4’s performed beautifully.

Strada – The High Performance Trainer
If you prefer a little more cushion and stability, The Strada takes the support level up a notch, offering an excellent shoe for longer training runs and marathon distance racing. The Strada is built with more dense foam on the outsole as well as a combination of Resalyte and Resagip for a firmer ride. It features an 8mm drop, and feels excellent on flat roads where you can incorporate everything from quick sprints to longer tempo runs.

We love the stability of the Strada, which has become our ‘go-to’ shoe, covering all the bases from traditional trainer right into race-day performer.

Ultra Road – The Endurance Junkie 
After testing in the Ultra2 model for most of last season, and loving its cushioning comfort,  along came the Ultra Road this season, which took things to a whole new level for us.  This model instantly became our ultra-distance favourite. 

Right out of the box, the fit and feel was exceptional, offering great cushioning and a responsive ride. The Ultra Road features a Resalyte sole, with firmer outsole, making for a very responsive take-off for those times when you are looking to pick up the pace! With its  durable woven upper and no seams or liner, it performs great in the heat, providing exceptional breathability and water drainage.

Our first ‘test’ run was a 6 hour city jaunt, and the shoes offered great support and a very   comfortable fit. At the end of our long test run, we both looked at each other and said, ‘Yup, we can keep going in these!’ 

We LOVE the Ultra Road and they will definitely be our 2015 Ultraman World Championship shoe of choice!

In Summary
All of the Skechers shoes in the Performance lineup that we have run in were extremely comfortable on the inside – no stitching, excellent drainage and great breathability. The upper is very flexible so the shoe feels unrestricted, and paired with the stock ‘flat-wound’ stretch laces, the tongue always stays in place.

It’s a great feeling for an athlete when your gear becomes ‘one’ with you and it just seems to ‘disappear’ – it’s there, but it’s not. That’s exactly what we’ve found in the lineup, and with such a broad choice in the series, there’s a shoe option for everyone! Where ever it may be, from trails, to twisty roads to all out track sprints, we’re driven by excitement every time we lace up and head out the door!


Vegan/Paleo Date Energy Bites

Kev loves making these as a quick and healthy treat – it totally satisfies both the ‘sweet’ and ‘salty’ cravings – great for ‘on the go’ snacking too!

Prep time: 15 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 24

2 cups walnuts, or other nut/seed of choice
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups soft pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large food processor fitted with an “S” blade, process the walnuts and coconut until crumbly. Add in the dates, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt and process again until a sticky, uniform batter is formed.

Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons, then roll between your hands to form balls. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then place in the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving.

Store the energy bites in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for an even longer shelf life.

For a gourmet-looking truffle, you could also roll them in shredded coconut or cocoa powder before chilling!



Skechers GOrun Ultra…

Earlier in the season, we had the opportunity to connect with the team from Skechers.  They have developed a full line of Performance Shoes and they thought we’d make good product testers/brand ambassadors.  The Performance line was new to us, so we were excited to test them out and see what all the shoe-buzz was about!

We first tried out the GOrun models, and loved the light-weight and super-comfy fit. They were super flexible in the upper, and feature flat-lock stitching details for a seamless feel and fit. They also offered a great mid-foot strike. Next it was the GOrun ‘Ride’, which offers a 4mm heel drop and a unrestricted ‘stable’ feel, with a bit more lateral and medial support for longer runs.  We really got to test these out at the Chicago Marathon in October, where we both PB’d!

Then, as our training for the Ultraman World Championships was winding up, we slipped into the ‘GOrun Ultra’s‘, which provided the ultimate cushioning with the Resalyte shock absorption, and the option of a 4mm or 8mm heel drop. This shoe also offered us 65% more cushioning than the GOrun Rides, so the perfect balance of stability and support, promoting a mid-foot strike.  These is also a super light-weight shoe, which really help when those extra km’s kick in!


If that wasn’t great enough…  we were presented with the GOrun Ultra ‘Extreme’ edition!  This was a new concept for us, as they are an ‘all weather’ version of the Ultra. We were already familiar with the great fit and grip of the Ultra’s, so decided to test out the ‘Extreme’ model on the first real ‘snowy/slushy’ night-run here in Montreal.

In the past, we’ve had to be super careful with foot-strike and stride-length out on the slippery streets, as well as dodging cars and the various obstacles that go with urban running.  What surprised us was that these shoes offered amazing TRACTION!  They were also extremely stable, and have a breathable water-resistant membrane, which allowed for great air circulation, while keeping the slush and snow out!  We really loved the fit and feel and are looking forward to the winter runs ahead in the new ‘Extreme’s’…

Meanwhile, we’ll be giving our GOrun Ultra’s the big test down in Hawaii at the Ultraman!

If you have the opportunity, we suggest you try out one of the models in the Skechers Performance lineup – there seems to be something for everyone!

Happy Trails!