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Local stories from Grand to Grand 2023

Also contributing: Paul Grimm, BLM Special Recreations Permit Administrator

Last Saturday, the 10th running of the Grand to Grand (G2G) Ultra-Marathon Stage Race came to an end and four Kanab residents - Deena and Steve Simpson, Max Hoffman and Melanie Rader - were part of the 30 finishers and 51 starters who completed the 171-mile, six-stage, seven-day journey from the Rim of the Grand Canyon. Their graduation diploma for this grueling endurance test came in the form of a metal belt buckle that they will wear with pride.

All four local Kanab residents still standing the day after finishing the long 53-mile stage the day before.

This race was not about how fast they could go (although Max Hoffman was quite fast and won his age group!), but was a journey that was more about testing mental and character skills that are useful in other aspects of life away from the trail. Below is a synopsis of what each of them had to say about the toughest race they’ve done so far this year, if not in their lives:

Left to right, photos courtesy of Paul Grimm:

  • Steve, Mel and Deena enjoying another sunny day on the G2G course.

  • Max, glowing after an amazing 59:12:47 finish time, good enough for first place in his 30-39 age group!

  • Mel greets her best four-legged buddy after seven days on the trail.

  • Deena and Steve enjoying a moment of relief upon finishing the longest footrace they’ve ever done together.

Deena and Steve Simpson say their favorite part was sharing the experience of running through the Sand Dunes together. Both expressed a sense of triumph and relief at arriving at the finish line, with Steve stating, “I didn’t think I’d make it,” and Deena adding “I’m ready for a Diet Coke.” They both thanked each other and their family and friends who made it possible for them to finish the event.

Max Hoffman cites Deena’s suggestion that he sign up as motivation for participating in the run. “This seemed like the next fun challenge and a great opportunity to raise funds for Best Friends.” Hoffman says meeting the incredible sort of people that participate in the race, both as runners and as staff and volunteers, was the highlight of the whole experience. He agreed with Deena regarding Stage 3 - the segment of the run just before the Sand Dunes - was the toughest part of the race.

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Melanie Rader, one of this year’s winners of the G2G Kanab Scholarship, expressed a similar sentiment, citing “meeting new interesting people” as her favorite part of the experience. Rader also cited running the Sand Dunes as the best part of the run itself. Rader thanked her boyfriend, in her words, “Kieran has been a champion with his support, I couldn’t have done it without him.”

Three of these Kanab residents - Max, Steve and Melanie, along with the non-local first place women’s finisher Nikola Grafnetterova from the Czech Republic - were happy to raise money to support charitable causes for Best Friends Animal Society and the Kane County Assistance Program. These organizations are grateful for the support of these runners.

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