I'll have to keep this brief as I'm about to board my final flight home from Portland to Vancouver (I didn't get this posted before heading to work yesterday)...and am then off to work from 1pm-9pm tonight. Yes, I'm a dumb ass who should have taken at least one more day off and who should still be laying on the beaches of Waikiki!
I'm not the best logistical planner and when I booked my cheap flight of only $385 return it was with a late night Monday return. I didn't even process that the banquet would obviously be on Monday and although I was able to join for a few hours I felt somewhat sheepish sliding out the back door shortly after the food was served. For the record we just made our check in for the 11pm flight!
Being put on the spot in front of a crowd it's sometimes hard to put into words what's running through your head...here is what I wished I had said to everyone last night...
I had never been to Hawaii before and my experience was absolutely top notch from start to finish. I had heard horror story after horror story about the HURT 100 Mile Course, yet the race directors managed to keep the atmosphere light hearted and fun the entire time. Their 20 minute 'directly to the point pre-race briefing' is something that could/should be mimicked by numerous other race organizations! I knew by the end of that briefing why so many people return annually to torture themselves on such a challenging course.
I wasn't sure what to initially think of a five loop course as I would much prefer a point to point race whenever possible, however, as with everything else in Hawaii, there was a magic to the simplicity of it all. Five loops, twenty miles, three aid stations. Since I was without a crew or pacer it just made things that much easier to figure out.
Once out on course there was one pleasant surprise after another. It started with the incredibly beautiful terrain consisting of rugged trails littered with banyan roots , contained inside lush forests consisting of banana trees, coffee plants, and stands of bamboo, complete with ridgeline panoramic views, including Pearl Harbor and Waikiki, and all of this upon a backdrop of chiseled jagged rock walls showered in an almost neon green blanket of vegetation. It was easy to ‘zone out’ and forget I was racing at all for the first few laps.
Once the legs started to recognize that this was more than just a training run the real mental struggles should have begun. However, running a looping course meant there was no shortage of constant support coming my way from other runners on course, followed by all the incredible volunteers at each aid station! I packed my iPod for the ‘night shift’ but used it for under an hour. I tried my absolute best to reciprocate and initiate as many exchanges as possible. Everyone’s positivity was amazing, greatly appreciated, and the perfect fuel for a tired runner’s shattered body.
EVERYONE helped make this a very special experience for me, and I sincerely hope in some small way I was able to do the same for at least a few others involved in this top notch event.
Till 2011, I'll be counting down the days.
Full race report to come soon.