The Grand Algorithm of Youtube coughed last night and offered up a stellar video: ultrarunner and filmmaker Billy Yang and some friends run across the Grand Canyon. Twice in a row. They start at the South Rim, go down the Bright Angel trail, and then up the North Kaibab trail to the North Rim, then turn right around and run back. 48 miles. It’s gotta be something like 15,000 feet of climbing.
I’ve run from the South Rim to the North rim, going down the South Kaibab trail and then up the North Kaibab trail. So there were lots of memories of that run that were triggered by the film.
But the best moment for me, the most honest and revealing scene, is when Yang reaches Phantom Ranch, and he’s sitting there at the picnic table. He has that far away expression of someone who is tired, feeling sort of shattered, and gets a clear view of the remainder of the task that lies ahead. “Here at Phantom Ranch, my legs, whoa, they are worked. That wall.” He points to the south wall, which he will soon need to climb. His voice breaks a little bit as he continues, “It’s just… so intimidating.” He makes a little whoosh noise, and then says “That’s daunting.” He’s looking directly at the camera, and for that 30 seconds he’s naked as the eyes of a clown.
It’s the opposite of ultrarunning in the world of Facebook and Instagram where everyone runs 100 miles and looks fresh the entire time. It’s a peek into the reality, where you’re completely crushed and with 10 miles to go you look ahead at what you need to do in the next 2-3 hours and recognize it’s about to get inescapably hard. Not hard as in “this is going to require some work” hard, but soul crushing, talk to God hard.