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Grand Canyon record set by 92-year-old after months of training

A 92-year-old man is making headlines and setting records after he successfully took on a nearly 24-mile hike across the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Alfredo Aliaga Burdio, who currently resides in Berlin, completed his record-setting trek across the Grand Canyon on Oct. 15, 2023. That journey led to Burdio claiming the title of oldest person to cross the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim on foot (male), according to an announcement on New Year’s Day by the Guinness World Records.

Burdio’s journey, which lasted for a total of 34 hours and 2 minutes, included 21 hours and 15 minutes of actual hiking time.

It took Burdio 11 hours and 15 minutes to hike from the North Rim Trailhead down to Phantom Ranch and another 10 hours on the next day to hike from Phantom Ranch to the South Rim Trailhead, according to the global authority on all things record-breaking.

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The record-setting achievement did not mark the first time Burdio made the hike across the Grand Canyon, however. The idea to attempt the record came to Burdio when he previously hiked the Grand Canyon with his son.

“I had read about the previous record holder, Mr. John Jepkema whom I admired immensely,” Burdio told Guinness World Records. “I knew that I was only a few months younger than Mr. Jepkema had been and thought that I had a great shot at setting a new record the following year.”

Burdio began preparing for the historic hike in January 2023 – roughly nine months before he actually made the journey – by walking eight miles every day.

The record attempt was originally slated to take place in early 2022 but was delayed due to hazardous weather conditions.

Burdio’s hike began at the North Rim, and he took breaks nearly every hour.

“I was very tired after those first five hours,” Burdio recalled. “But what surprised me is that after about a 15-minute break, some food, and electrolytes, I recovered and felt strong again to tackle the next seven hours.”

Burdio insisted that his mindset and ability to take it slow during trying times helped him conquer the hike.

“I think of the next step and the next, and not how far I still have to go,” Burdio said. “Then it is not so overwhelming and very doable.”

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Burdio’s love for hiking came after his wife passed away from ALS in 2006. Following her death, Burdio made it a priority to visit the places they had traveled together and even took his daughter and 9-year-old grandson to hike rim to rim in the Grand Canyon.

The most interesting part of the hike, according to Burdio, was the people he met along the way who cheered him on.

“Truly the best thing was meeting all the people on the trail, that support and kindness and just happiness was wonderful,” he said.

During his hike, Burdio also encountered a group of firefighters who made him an honorary member of the Tucson Fire Department by giving him a Tucson Fire Department patch.

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The 92-year-old also expressed his appreciation for those who traveled alongside him to witness the journey.

“Can you believe that two people who would usually cross the Canyon in eight hours agreed to be witnesses, walked at my speed, and were unwavering in their support,” he said. “Julian Coiner and Peter Todd are truly unusually kind and wonderful people.”

Burdio’s takeaway from the hike is that it is never too late to try something, even at old age.

“I began living a healthy lifestyle really at age 76,” he said.

Burdio is reportedly planning to hike the Grand Canyon again this year.

“My son-in-law already has a cabin for October 2024, when we want to see if we can go with my son’s family,” he said. “But I have to see how I am doing then. I am getting older.”

 

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