Running Down the Trail at HURT Trail 100

This year’s race was preplanned in coordination with my wife to be only a 100K, only! With our new five month old and other family priorities, we could not afford the required time for long runs. So, we did what we could while taking care of those around us who need us the most. But a 100K is not really a 100K at HURT.
To start, it’s actually 67.3 miles instead of 62.5 and those extra steps really make a painful difference. The race directorate and volunteers make this event one if not the best endurance event on earth. They truly make you feel like family/ohana. The course is not easy with every step a chance for a twisted knee, slip off a steep ridge, and slide over slick boulders over a cliff or simply trip over infinite roots ready to catch your tired toes. No, this course is brutal every inch of the way. Maybe this is why people come here – to test themselves unlike they will ever be tested elsewhere. Maybe they are looking inward for a place that brings thing calmness, or they are just truly sadistic. Whatever the reason, people love this race. For me, I just love the outdoors!
Starting at 6:00 AM on a humid Saturday morning, the race started with the same ritual as always of traditional Hawaiian blessing as the stream moved underfoot. I planned on a five hour first loop, and managed this closely with little effort. My main rule is to not get injured on the first loop. Nutrition can be recovered, but a broken ankle cannot. The return to the start/finish was slightly under five hours and injury free. However, the humidity was building the course into an oven with no breeze in sight.
The second loop, planned for six hours, required more experience as I doubled my electrolytes given the weather and my hydration as well. I was drinking over 36 ounces per hour, and careful to monitor my symptoms for heat stroke. At one time, I was sweating profusely but getting cold. Years of experience told me to adjust my plan quickly as cramps would soon be found. Once the cramps started, I was ready and my system rebounded quickly to stave off them with the added fluids and electrolytes. The miles between 33 and 40 were difficult due to the weather and my lack of training. I fully expected this, and reduced my effort to compensate keeping my heart rate in check. My trail management saw me back at the start/finish around six hours with another boost of energy after seeing my wife and two boys. Then my stomach gave way! This is actually good timing, and I took care of business and tossed all sugars from nutrition plan. From here on out, it would be a non-sugar plan to allow my system to reset. With a kiss to my family, I was off on the third loop to meet my pacer at mile 47.
The march over to mile 47 was long a painful from being tired. The week of the race, I averaged about 3 hours of sleep taking care of the boys at night. My wife and I both work, so just because I want to run 100K doesn’t mean she has to suffer as well. This lack of sleep would bring out the walking zombie for most of the remaining race. My feet were also experiencing hot spots from the moisture of the water on sections of the trail, and I was also working through some chaffing in very private places. So, I marched through the complications to mile 47 – slowly. With my experienced pacer in hand, and darkness upon us, we continued through the night pushing past exhaustion that was so thick I truly could not force my eyes to remain open. My lights became a mesmerizing dance over the rainforest floor sending me into a deep walking restful state weaving from one edge of the trail to the other. My pacer continued to instruct me along this blind dance keeping me as safe as possible. We arrived at mile 53 where miso soup and salted potatoes helped keep me fueled.
The zombie march continued as we ascended the ridge again and crawled our way over to the start/finish where I knew without a doubt I was done. The third loop took over eleven hours! I went to the first aid tent hoping that the feet were so badly damaged that I couldn’t continue. Slowly my shoes were removed and Injini socks to expose the very red and soft feet, with little to no damage – only a few blisters. I asked to have the blisters drained, taped and switched shoes and socks. I knew I was going back out to finish this experience. I only needed 7.3 painful miles of sleep walking!
My pacer and I went out, back up the series of climbs that would see me wobble here, sit down there and even sleep for five minutes by a trash can. There was no running available as my feet, chaffing and closed eyes wouldn’t allow this. My only hope was the sunrise!
We pushed on around the course, most of which is a blur now. Then the sun began to illuminate the sky, and I slowly returned to reality. Down into Paradise Park we went somehow getting to mile 67.3, my goal and promise to my wife – to not go for the 100 miles this year. I’m very glad I promised her that I would stop since this effort took me 25 hours and 31 minutes of absolute effort.
During the race, my face showed signs of edema from the radiation therapy but this has slowly resolved after about 24 hours. Sun exposure on this course is almost zero allowing me to run with comfort. The biggest challenge is still my saliva glands that just cannot produce enough to aid with certain dry foods like breads. But overall, I am very pleased with my performance given my focus on family after a full year of making it through a high risk pregnancy and seeing a healthy new addition to our family. Yes, 2010 was a difficult year making this year’s HURT even more special.

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