The HURT 100 is a five-loop, 25k’ elevation gain/loss course through the Tantalus section of Honolulu. For me, this was largely a proof of concept… I was able to finish in 2013 just under the time limit and despite promising myself that I would never do this race again I found myself curious to see if I could do better or to see if the previous year was a fluke. It proved to be a little of both.
In my typical fashion I arrived late and spent 30 minutes shuttling my aid station drop bags to the start line and then finding the trucks that the drop bags were already loaded into because no one except me is dumb enough to arrive that late. Once I got my gear situated, I strapped my Hokas on at about 10 minutes prior to go time and managed to drift over to the start line just in time for the ceremonial speech and blowing of the conch shell. I was curious to notice that none of my competitors seemed to be making any forward progress after the start until I realized I was standing behind seven rows of spectators and not the participants. Super. In my defense it was dark. By the time I negotiated that cheering obstacle course and began the ascent up Hogs’ Back I was in last place…. So far so good.
I stole a page from a friends’ playbook and organized 15 baggies with nutrition and pills (salt, Tums and Tylenol) before the race, the design was great and required no thinking or time at each aid station. I just dropped the one I was carrying and picked up a fresh one. Turned out that although I packed about 500-600 calories in each bag I barely consumed anything since the chow at the support stations was excellent. At Leadville 2013 I suffered greatly toward the end because I couldn’t even look at another stale PBJ. But the HURT ohana did a fantastic job organizing and supplying the aid stations…. That made a huge difference!!
The race itself proved to be great conditions… clear but cool, plus the course had dried up considerably from two weeks prior, making many sections realistically runnable again. The high humidity proved to be a factor but the Tums in my nutrition bags kept stomach issues in check. The duct tape covering a hole in the side of my Hokas failed at Mile 10 but besides a little extra dirt getting into my socks it proved to be no major issue. I managed to stay on game plan and run solid splits early on while keeping plenty in reserve for night ops. The course is fantastic and provides terrain that varies from pine forest to dense rain forest jungle. The trail certainly has its share of roots and rocks but I tried to remain patient and avoid any injury.
As usual, the best part of the race was the support and enthusiasm of the race staff and volunteers. Paradise Park provided the usual suspects and sense of humor along with fantastic home-made food beyond compare. Nuuanu (Jackass Ginger) folks were organized beyond belief and the same individual greeted my arrival and departure on every lap (don’t they ever sleep)?
Lap 3 &4 introduced darkness which slowed my progress to a walk / hike. However, I was lucky to have pacer support for portions of each lap that kept my mind busy and made the time go by. Lap 5 was the only lap that I had a full-time pacer who just happened to be the daughter of an accomplished Ultra-Runner. I knew I was in for it when our climb from the Nature Center (start) to Tantalus Road was 15 minutes faster than my first lap. I dug down to keep up and the parts that I fell behind she would patiently wait while she gave me a not-so-subtle “WTH” look. We eventually compromised with our pace and wound up with a respectable Lap 5 time. Looking back at the results I was proud that I was able to make steady progress in my standing throughout the two days, slowly raising my standing at almost every section of the race. I eventually finished in 33:25 which resulted in about 2+ hours and 20+ positions faster than 2013.
Recovery was actually fun… I woke up on Monday morning at 4am and immediately ate everything I could find while watching the football games I taped. I had some stiffness and some decorative chaff patterns, but overall I escaped with minor drama. I think that I have now convinced myself that I can complete this race, but I would like to see to what extent I can compete. And despite retiring forever (again) I have laid out my training days for next year’s race (again).
The HURT 100 captures the spirit of ultra-running unlike anything that I have seen… I am very grateful to all competitors and volunteers and highly recommend it to any ultra-athlete.