Run, Gregory, run!

Best Friends Animal Society CEO Gregory Castle is a runner, and as a non-runner, I look at my longtime colleague and friend with wonder and occasional puzzlement. At 71, he plans to run, walk and climb 170 miles across the Southwest desert from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument as part of an event called the Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G). Talk about “mad dogs and Englishmen” — yes, Gregory is a Brit, and yes, the conventional wisdom about them being an eccentric bunch is indeed true.

The G2G website is a sunny and optimistic read as it describes in tourist brochure terms what, for me, would be a near-death experience: “Participant will encounter a mix of desert and other terrain including hard packed sand, soft sand, sand dunes, forest trails, shallow river crossings, rocky roads and slot canyons.” It’s a six-stage, seven-day race that climbs to an altitude of 8,658 feet on the summit of the Pink Cliffs of the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. This is Bryce Canyon territory and here’s more happy-talk from the G2G site: “The finish line … provides participants with a rewarding view back over the course that you have just completed.”

To be sure, this is spectacularly beautiful landscape and easily one of the most amazing places on earth and I love getting out into the wilderness myself — in my ’86 Land Cruiser. Hiking out in this country is daunting and the desert heat and unrelenting sun can be punishing.

So what does my 71-year-old, ectomorphic friend think he’s doing?

He’s having a blast!

Gregory has two obsessions: the mission of Best Friends Animal Society and running. He has been at the forefront of Best Friends’ work for 30 years, beginning with our sand-shoveling work that got the whole thing started back in 1984. He has also run a boatload of marathons, including three Bostons. With the G2G, he has linked these two obsessions in true mad dog Englishman style. Gregory has set a personal fundraising goal of $170,000, all of which will go to the lifesaving work of Best Friends. Click here now to donate to Gregory’s race effort. Any donation of more than $100 will get your name printed on Gregory’s race day shirt.

As Gregory puts it: “I knew from the start of Best Friends 30 years ago that achieving a no-kill society for animals was a long-distance undertaking. The challenge that Best Friends faces to Save Them All is just like a marathon. It takes the same kind of meticulous planning and hard work to pull off.”

Well, here’s to you, Gregory, and here’s to your dedication, your commitment to the animals and your crazy, eccentric “Britishness.” I am proud to know you and honored to be your friend.