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Archive for Thursday, June 4, 1998

LOCAL SEXTET TREKS ACROSS GRAND CANYON

June 4, 1998

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Six Lawrence women traveled 23.5 miles across the Grand Canyon this week.

While many people were trying to cope with a typical Monday at work this week, six Lawrence women were descending and ascending thousands of feet in a national park.

``We spent four months training for this,'' said Lynn Allen, wife of Kansas University head football coach Terry Allen who organized a 23.5-mile trek through the Grand Canyon.

The group -- Allen, Bonnie Wells, Joni Gittins, Rosy Elmore, Carla Phipps and Betsy Farley -- left Saturday for the Grand Canyon.

They spent Sunday sightseeing near the North Rim of the canyon, and began their trek into the area early Monday morning.

Descending from an altitude of 8,240 feet at the North Rim, the group walked to the canyon floor nearly 6,000 feet below. They then ascended to the top of the South Rim, which has an altitude of 6,860 feet.

It took about nine hours for the women to complete the trek.

``People were like, `You did what?''' said Allen, who has now crossed the canyon four times since 1992.

``People die there -- you have to be careful,'' she said. ``But we trained for it and we knew what to expect.

``It's just something that we really enjoyed doing. Everyone was saying they would do it again.''

The women returned to Lawrence about midnight Tuesday.

During the journey, Allen said, the women carried 6- to 7-pound packs containing water, cameras, extra socks and high-energy foods such as trail mix and Power Bars.

Because of the differences in altitude, there are several distinct climate zones in the Grand Canyon.

Temperatures were just above freezing when the women set off from the top of the north rim, and were about 110 degrees at the bottom, Allen said.

Two drivers, who didn't go on the trek, drove vans from the north rim and met the women when they arrived at the south rim.

Allen said the group had been training every day since February by running on area trails and walking steps at Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Allen said that the group could have made the trip faster if participants chose.

``But we were in one of the wonders of the world and we stopped a lot to take pictures along the way. We weren't trying to break any speed records.''

Allen is no stranger to fitness.

A 1981 University of Iowa graduate, she has taught fitness at the University of Northern Iowa and at the University of Iowa.

She also has been providing fitness-equipment advice to President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton since 1993.

-- Mike Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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