Preparations for a first ever international sporting event to be hosted in Kane County are well underway. Planning for the Grand to Grand Ultra, a 160-mile endurance footrace to be held from September 23-29, 2012, is at an advanced stage.

Competitors from 16 countries have already signed up and will be arriving in Kanab during the week before the race. Some of these include elite athletes who have set various records at long distances.

Sharon Gayter, a university professor from Teesside in the UK, holds the world record for running the furthest distance on a treadmill in seven days (a whopping 517 miles!)

Zeddy Al Refai, from Kuwait, was the first Arab to summit Mount Everest and to climb the Seven Summits (the highest mountains on each continent). He also carried the torch at the lead up to this year’s London Olympics.

Salvador Calvo Redondo from Spain is the winner of 21 ultra marathons since 2005.

Stephanie Case from Canada has multiple first female places in several ultras and stage race ultras throughout the world, most recently being top female in the 250 km Nepal race in November 2011. 

Kyung Tae Song, a blind South Korean runner, will be paced by Kisuk Song. Between 2005 and 2009, Song completed the Gobi Desert Race, Atacama Crossing, Sahara Race and Antarctica, and became the first blind competitor to complete all four races.  

Four Kanab residents have signed up for the race. Kanab’s local team consists of Dave DiDonna, Raven Chiong, Ashley Kartchner and Sherri Gallagher. These dedicated athletes are busy training and making their own preparations while receiving expert training guidance from Ray Zahab, the world-famous endurance athlete who visited Kanab in April. Not many people locally know Chiong was one of the first women from the U.S. to qualify for the Los Angeles Olympics marathon trials shortlist in 1984. That was particularly significant, as it was the first time ever that an Olympic Games allowed women to compete in the marathon.

You may see our local athletes training on any given day. Please give them words of encouragement, as they will be representing the town in the event. Their equipment is being provided through local business sponsors. Those interested in helping sponsor Kanab’s team should contact Matt Brown at 435-616-5858.

“When we met the G2G organizers and came to understand the significant impact this event could have on our economy, we determined this was the kind of event we want to promote and help ensure its success. The G2G is attracting the sort of people we’re trying to bring to Kanab. We hope to grow the G2G into a phenomenon which will bring further opportunities to Kane County,” said Matt Brown.

The media is showing a lot of interest in the event since it is the first footrace of this type in North America. Currently, 10 media groups are covering the preparations for the G2G and will be embedding reporters in the race to write feature articles. Several of these publications are international in their coverage.

Kane County Office of Tourism Director Ken Gotzen-Berg is also excited about what the G2G can do for tourism in Kane County. “We’re pleased to sponsor the Grand to Grand Ultra. It is a great way for us to reach out to a whole new market of activity-based travelers from all over the world. It’s our intention that the G2G will help put Kanab on the map for those interested in trail running and hiking. We’re hopeful that through the coverage this event will receive, outdoor enthusiasts from around the world will enjoy the G2G course throughout the year,” said Gotzen-Berg.