Chris Kimbrough made big news as a 44-year-old mother of six when she won the Capitol 10,000 in 2014 in a time of 35:36. At the time, Kimbrough was going to school to learn sports massage and looking to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon trials. She’s now doing sports massage therapy at the Knot Detective in Austin.
“I mostly do trail running now,” said Kimbrough, who will be running the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim run on May 7 along with Austin ultra-runners Patrick Creel, Dan Hannon and Mallory Brooks. Unbelievably, her training buddy Brooks is doing it twice, totaling just over 100 miles.
The Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim is about 52 miles, and as the name implies runs down into the Canyon itself from the south rim, up the other side to the north rim, and then back again.
“I was planning on running it with Mallory two years ago, but then got injured,” she said.
Kimbrough’s injured posterior-tibialis tendon took surgery and rehabbing before she could run again. She’s now about a year out from the surgery, and training well, and her preparation for the Rim2Rim2Rim includes some of Austin’s most challenging ascents.
“Mallory and I do repeats on the Mount Bonnell steps,” she said. “Dan, Patrick and I have been doing the Hill of Life on a weekly basis at 5:00 a.m.”
For those not acquainted with the Hill of Life, it’s a steep, rocky half-mile long hill of a trail connecting the Barton Creek Greenbelt to Scottish Woods Trail in Westlake. Ultrarunners training for Leadville, Hardrock, and other over-the-top 100 milers have used it for years.
“We do about eight repeats,” said Kimbrough. “I actually really like it. I don’t have a problem doing something different—It feels good. The last time I did the workout was my fastest session.”
“We’ll be doing a 30 mile run on the Greenbelt this weekend,” she said. “Basically, we’ll start at Barton Springs and go to the Hill of Life, do a couple repeats and then head back to Barton Springs and jump in. That’s the longest run for the buildup.”
At one month out, she feels good, confident.
“Both Patrick and Dan really know what they’re doing. I just have to be careful about my tendon,” she said. “It will take us around 12-13 hours. Pace is out the window, but I do want to make it a strong effort.”
The Rim2Rim2Rim course itself is obviously not easy, and it’s full of obstacles. It includes rocky sections, plenty of climbing, and a range of temperatures from hot to cold. The South rim is at 7,000 feet of altitude, while the North Rim is at 8,000 feet. Runners and hikers cross the Colorado River via one of two suspended footbridges. There’s a water fountain by the suspension bridges where the three plan to re-fill their camelbacks and water bottles.
“We’re planning on starting on the South Kaibab trail at 5:00 a.m. wearing headlamps, and getting back in the evening,” said Kimbrough. “We’ll be drinking Tailwind, and using Camelbacks. Peanut butter and jelly is my go-to fuel. I plan to drink an ice-cold beer when I finish!
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