Seven Days in the Desert

SUU President Scott Wyatt with faculty members Johnny Oh and William Hayborne will compete in the Grand to Grand Ultra race to raise money to start construction of an on-campus daycare.

The seven-day race begins Sept. 23 at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and traverses to the Grand Staircase in Escalante National Monument. Out of 138 runners from over 25 different countries, President Wyatt’s team is one of only two groups competing.

The 170 miles long trail ascends a total 18,000 feet in elevation and is fully self-supported, meaning runners must carry all their own gear on their back. Racers are required to go at least 26 miles each day. Since in a group, President Wyatt, Oh and Hayborne must meet at each checkpoint every couple miles and pass the finish line together.

The SUU team has been training all summer, but doing came at great costs. Hayborne received stress fractures which grew into full broken bones in preparation for the race. After his six-week recovery in June, he has continued to train with his teammates.

Though President Wyatt is active, this is his first ultra race, while both Oh and Hayborne have personally ran multiple marathons before. “Some of these [other competitors] are extreme athletes,” Wyatt said. “I just hope I don’t slow my team down.”

However, SUU students are confident in the team’s abilities. Professor of Communications, Jon Smith, accompanied by several of his T.V. Broadcasting students, will be present for the full race week to film footage for a short documentary.

“I’m personally excited to get out there and film the runners,” Kurt Mecham, a senior studying communications, said. “It’s going to be a challenge… [But] their success should be counted on how many people they [are] helping.”

Those interested in tracking the racers during Grand to Grand Ultra next week can do so online once the race begins.

Story By: Ansleigh Mikesell
Photo By:  Christopher Burns on Unsplash