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Caroline Meckel's Fundraiser:

I Thought it Said "DESSERT" Race

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EVENT DATE: Sep 22, 2013

Caroline Meckel


Connie carpenter wrote -

I thought it said "Dessert" race, alas that extra "s" was not really there. Too late, I paid and I'm going to go get my money's worth!  Yep, I'm doing the Grand 2 Grand Ultra, a self-supported stage race in the desert, on Sept 22nd.  I've compiled a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions.  (And don't forget to look at the pictures and the wonderful video).


How far will you be running? 169 Miles from the Grand Canyon (northern rim) to the Grand staircase (1 hr outside of Las Vegas) 

Are you crazy?  Yes

How Long will this take you? I don't know but they give me seven days with 12 hours each day. I'm pretty sure I'll be using most of that time.  I'm shooting for 8 hour marathons but that will be a stretch.  It's mostly upmountain with a lot of sand and rocks.  Plus it's a very high elevation.  So more likely 9-10 hours a day.  Might even be 11 or 12.  I'll just have to wait and see.

Are you really running the whole thing?  No way.  I power walk up the mountains, I run down the mountains and I do a run/walk shuffly thing on the flats (over the rocks I crawl and sniffle a little).  The fastie fasts do run the whole thing (but even some of them hike and walk) -- they are competing to win -- I'm just trying to stay alive. (insert Bee Gees sound track)

How much does your backpack weigh?  Right now it is at 20 lbs (excluding water). Everyone thinks that's too much.  I spent yesterday crying as I was tossing out some food.  I'll weigh it again later, I think I can get it to 18.5.  If I want to eat it, wear it or sleep on it, I have to carry it -- ergo the designation "self-supported".  One guy pointed out the bitter cycle of supplies -- the more you carry, the heavier your pack, the heavier your pack, the slower you go, the slower you go, the more food you need, the more food you need, the heavier your pack....  They supply water (and I hear electrolyte and sunscreen! But I carry my own.)  

What is in your backpack?  Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, down jacket (gets cold at night), shirt and pants to wear at night, basic toiletries, medical kit, 7 days worth of food for a very tiny, tiny person.

How Hot Will it Get?  Current forecast calls for no rain, but if you follow the history of my races you know that's probably not going to happen.  Probably low eighties during the day.  Could get down to mid 30's at night when we hit higher altitude.

Aren't you afraid of snakes?  Yes.

Will you have a cell phone?  No cell phones allowed.  I'm not even bringing my gps watch because at this point if I can't eat it I'm not carrying it.  A triple AAA battery or a tootsie roll? I"m taking the tootsie roll.  I'm hungry already, I swear.

What if you get lost?  If?  Do you even know me?  Of course I'll get lost.  But I'll have a map, a compass and they mark the course.  If I keep my eyes open I should stay on course.  And my goal is to try to be fast enough to keep someone on the horizon.  That may not happen.  Then when I do get lost, I will most likely run my fastest to find my way back to the course (that's what happened in the Sahara so I suspect it will happen here).  It's absolutely amazing how fast you can run when your life depends on it!

Can you get left behind?  Well i'm sure I could if they don't like me or something but they have riders on horseback trailing the last runner (most likely me) so if I go really off course they should find me.  They also have all terrain vehicles and radio communications so if they don't see me within a reasonable amount of time, hopefully they will come look for me.  I am not anticipating this to be a problem.

How does this compare to the other race you did in the Sahara, MDS?  Well, it is the same format (self-supported stage).  MDS had over 1,000 racers, this one has 122.  I think this will not as hot (Sahara was in the 100s and I think this will be in the low 80's)  But this has more elevation we end up well-over 8,000 feet (see here for the course details  This will have a lot of sand as did MDS but I think the dunes were a wee bit higher in the Sahara.  But 30% of this is running in the sand and that is hard (if you have ever run on the soft sand of the beach or did that race at Alcatraz you'lll know what i mean).  Oh and MDS was in 2009 before I got thyroid cancer --that's a lifetime ago -- I was younger then, lol.  And I think I'll be doing a lot more rock scrambling in this one.  Sigh, I don't really like rock scrambling.  Thanks, now I'm getting tired.

How much have you been training? A lot.  And frankly I'm tired of it. 

Are you scared?  Scared is not the right word.  I'm worried that I might not make it to the end of day 1.  If I make it through day 1 I'll be thrilled. And I will be so happy that I'll be floating on endorphins.  Then we will just take it one day at a time - one step at a time. But not finishing day 1 would really stink.  As long as I can keep the blisters away and not get altitude sickness and stay injury free, I have the determiniation to finish.  I just don't know if I can be fast enough.  And all I can do is try.  And I'm stealing this quote from Martin Short: "If I bomb I'll still be able to go out and have a glass of wine & celebrate because I did everything I could do.  I can't help it if I'm limited." 

What is the long stage?  The long stage is day 3 and we have ~30 hours to do about ~53 miles.  The fast kids will run straight through the night to get it done and then have a day off.  For me, I will probably sleep a little. I really don't get the run at night and miss all the gorgeous scenery so you can lie around and do nothing for the next day. I imagine I will run until 10 or 11 at night or run into a coyote.  I'll find a check point where I can roll out my sleeping bag and nap for an hour or three and then get up and finish.  Although that said, if I am doing well and nothing hurts, I will keep going. We will just have to see.  That stage also happens to fall on my birthday so I may feel super empowered to keep going.

What about showering?  We don't.  It will be what my mother used to call "bird bath" style with itty bitty soap flakes.  

What about going the bathroom?  This race is "fancy." They will have porta johns at camp and at major check points.  (In the Sahara they dug a hole in the ground, put a shower curtain up and said have at it!)  But above all we have to be respectful of the environment.  No littering allowed.

How do I track you?  Go to, they should have daily results posted, scroll all the way to the bottom of the list, you should see my name there. They will also be posting updates on facebook  Don't freak out if my name is not there because I may still be running while they have other people's results posted. (And don't freak out anyway, I'm doing what I like to do.)

Can I send you email?  Yes, that would be awesome, but you can't send to my regular email as I have no access.  Send emails to  Subject should be: Connie Carpenter #109. This email address will be live from 21st September to 6PM (MST) on 26th September (hey that’s my birthday!).   I like quotes from Mohammad Ali, Diana Nyad, Buddha and George Carlin.

What about the Altituude?  It will be high and it will be harder for me to breath.  This summer I didn't have any problems at 6,000' but around 8,000' I really did struggle so there are going to be good moments and some not so good moments.  The key is to never, ever stop moving forward.  Constant forward motion.  Even if it is very, very, very slow.

What happens if you can't finish?  I have no idea what you are talking about.

Why Abundant Waters?  They are kids in my neighborhood (Hell's Kitchen) in NYC who don't have the same opportunities that I had.  The kids all come from poverty-level homes.  It is a small organization and I like the fact that there is not a lot of overhead with fancy marketing campaigns and big salaries.  The money goes to tutors, supplies, music, arts, sports and taking them on outings.  I can see that the money is going to something powerful and useful.  You can go visit the school and just see the sparkle of optimism in these kids eyes as they learn to ride a bike or their determination when they are learning to play chess.  They are the cutest little pumpkins and it breaks my heart that they might not have an opportunity to succeed without a program like Abundant Waters.  PLEASE watch the video in the picture section (it was made by an AW graduate!)  And of course 100% of donations are 100% tax deductible and we LOVE matching corporate donations.

How much of the money raised goes to fund your race?  ZERO!  I don't take a penny of my fundraising money for myself, ever!  Every cent goes to Abundant Waters and I don't use it for entry fees or supporting my race in anyway.  I also don't take compensation from Abundant Waters for my work for them throughout the year getting other athletes to run and be part of other events. (BTW, I still have slots for the NYC Marathon if you want to run!) That's my charity work. This is my charity run.  Its for kids who will thrive with our support and I like the idea that I can do something concrete to help them .  There is no such thing as a small donation.

If there are no further questions, it's time for rumble girl to RUMBLE!!!

The Team: $2,695 TOTAL RAISED SO FAR

Fundraiser Title

Connie carpenter

Amount Raised



27% Raised of $10,000 Goal

Fundraiser Title

Caroline Meckel

Amount Raised


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