What the hell is a hot spot???
January 14th sure did sneak up on us! After nearly two weeks off around the holidays, Alejandra and I were off on another “vacation” less than two weeks after returning to work. With travel being a frequent part of my work schedule, I completely forgot that Alejandra is a bit less comfortable when it comes to flying.
After tearing the metal off our seat armrests and imbibing enough Jesus Juice to make Dean Martin jealous, we successfully touched down in Oahu on Wednesday evening. We headed directly for the hotel in our spiffy new white, Toyota Camry, a popular rental car choice for the island, and crashed as soon as we hit the bed.
We spent Thursday exploring the island, traveling counterclockwise around the coast, stopping at beaches and eating lunch at an awesome food truck stand in the North Shore. The poke tuna bowls were great, as were the Cajun beans/rice and fried pickles. We also made our way over to Pipeline beach and checked out a surfing competition.
After leaving North Shore, we headed over to Pearl Harbor. The self-guided tour was incredibly educational, and although a somber site, we felt proud and honored to walk the grounds where thousands lost their lives protecting those shores.
Friday afternoon was race check-in, and we spent the morning going for a run, enjoying a relaxing Thai lunch, and spending some time exploring the Honolulu Botanical Gardens. These 15 acres, set in downtown Honolulu, were packed with hundreds of various trees, plants, herbs and flowers. They even had pineapples growing out of pots!
We made our way over to race check-in and met up Tyler Tomasello, Luis Escobar and Mauricio Puerto, fellow dirtbags all getting ready to test our mettle against the course. I still cannot possibly fathom how or why Luis has 11 HURT finishes under his belt. We also met up with Nick Kopp, an amazing runner out of Tacoma that would definitely bring the HURT to Hawaii.
After receiving our swag bags and listening to the race instructions, we were off to the beach to enjoy a couple hours of relaxing before our 6:00am start. Unfortunately, the weather was overcast and nasty, obviously foreshadowing the day to come.
Race morning came quickly, and as we jumped into our new, white Toyota Camry at 4:45am, it felt awkward that the hotel would’ve cleaned out our car from the night before. Anyways, we prepared to drive off and were immediately chased down by the hotel staff. Apparently new, white Toyota Camry’s are a popular Hawaiian rental choice, and the pilots that were picking up their car behind us weren’t too happy that we were driving off with their luggage. We picked up our car and headed over to the Nature Center.
In keeping with the no frills nature of the event, the start of the HURT 100 was uneventful. Stan gathered the 120+ starters around the shitters for some last minute race instructions. A couple corny jokes were made, and a conch is blown signifying the start of a long day, night and for most… another day.
The HURT course consists of three legs, formed in the shape of a drunken “T,” with each of the three aid stations located at the bottom of significant climbs. The start/finish of the “T” is the Nature Center, located only 3 miles away from downtown Waikiki.
The 7ish mile leg 1 takes runners up a nasty, root infested climb, up and down, through the TREE ROOT CROSSROADS FROM HELL, up and down, passing beautiful Manoa Falls, before dropping into the Paradise Park aid station.
The Paradise Park aid station is insane! With a full on pirate ship entrance, this site is decked out in One-Eyed Willy Party Mode! Music is blasting, everyone is fitted in their favorite shwashbuckling garb, and the variety of food choices is unreal… vegan sushi, really? The energy gushing out of this aid station is contagious, and it takes a ton of effort to not stay and partake in the party.
Leg 2 takes runners on the shortest of the three legs (5ish miles), up and out of Paradise Park, and past the seemingly never ending TREE ROOT CROSSROADS FROM HELL!!! After a short climb, runners descend into the Nuuanu aid station, where they’re welcomed with a slippery creek crossing before being able to pick up their supplies.
The Nuuanu aid station is a bit more reserved than their counterparts at Paradise Park, forcing their runners to walk the plank. The volunteers here are great, helping to refill bottles, stuff food down your throat, and in my case, clean and patch up an evil, heel hot spot.
Leaving Nuuanu, Leg 3 takes runners up and back through the TREE ROOT CROSSROADS FROM HELL!!! After another moderate climb, runners are offered the only olive branch on this course; a semi- “runnable” downhill stretch of a few miles that bring them back into the Nature Center (approximately 7.5 miles).
I chose to enter the HURT lottery because I wanted a race that would be humbling. What would it be like to tackle a course where you couldn’t train for the majority of its variables… Wet, rooty, muddy, rooty, slippery, rooty, humid, rooty, tons of climbing, rooty conditions?
HURT offered all the humility one could ask for and more!
After 28.5 hours, a heel hot spot that nearly knocked me out of the race, save for the most incredible medic at the Nuuanu aid station, I was fortunate enough to finish the HURT 100. Over two weeks later, I’m still laughing at the ridiculousness of this course. Be prepared to climb, be prepared to slip and slide, be prepared to question yourself for entering, and definitely be prepared to HURT!
Things I learned:
- Alejandra is more incredible than I already thought! She stayed awake throughout the night to meet me at the Nature Center for each deteriorating loop! Pretty sure I wasn’t speaking much English after loop 3, but she was awesome nonetheless, filling up my pack and repeating words of encouragement.
- Take care of your feet! Hot spots are awful, especially when they’re on you heel.
- Practice switching out headlight batteries before the race… it’s really, really dark in the jungle!
- Losing GPS reception and using your watch to solely track nutrition and hydration is not always bad… especially when slogging around for 28+ hours
- Fighting my brain to stay within the moment was incredibly helpful for dealing with the miles, overall fatigue and treacherous terrain
- A Red Bull provided by the most incredible volunteer, manning the TREE ROOT CROSSROADS FROM HELL at 3:00am, might just save your life.
- High humidity, constantly sweating out salt and not constantly applying body glide can and will likely lead to an extreme case of chafing.
- Be prepared to lose a few toenails. Not only are roots slippery as hell, they seem to have a magnetic attraction to my toebox
- Changing shoes may seem like a great idea at mile 60, but a softer, less tacky shoe makes you think twice when lying on your ass two miles, five miles, 10 miles, and throughout the remainder of the race.
- HURT volunteers are the best! Always helpful, always upbeat, and always encouraging
- There are far more enjoyable ways to spend a vacation in Hawaii, but likely not as memorable