Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hawaii HURT 100 volunteering

Being an ultra runner in Hawaii in January, I kinda couldn't pass up a chance to go watch the HURT 100 race on Oahu.  I also got to help with an early-morning volunteer shift which turned out to be a lot of fun.

Lots of amazing people run this race!  It is seriously tough, slow and technical trails with plenty of roots and mud and steepness.  And this was on a good-weather weekend.  Imagine if it had rained?

John and I had previously explored these trails and decided we weren't up for the challenge of 5 x 20-mile loops there.  But it is a great place to go hiking to watch people attempt this feat.

I showed up on Saturday as some runners were finishing their first lap.  Here's the Nature Center where the race starts and finishes.  Also the location of the 20/40/60/80-mile aid station:

Lots of good vibes and an "Aloha" atmosphere:

One of the runners getting resupplied for his next lap:

Time to take to the trails and find some ultra runners in their natural habitat.  The course climbs right off the bat (including a super-steep rooty section that I conveniently skipped), does an interesting cross-over in the first uphill, goes to the top, and then has two out-and-backs to the other 2 aid stations at the bottom (one on each side of the ridge) before coming back down with another cross-over to return to the Nature Center.  Here's the hiking trail map, but without the course drawn on it, so good luck with figuring that out  :)

I followed the course in a backward direction so I could see runners coming, get out of their way, and hopefully capture a few photos:

Looking good, ladies:

This part of the trail was one of the easier sections, although not without its share of small obstacles:

Fun vegetation, I assume this is part of a banyan tree:

A short tree tunnel:

Hey, it's Karen, I know her!  We got to chat briefly, that was fun.

Taking off on her second loop - Go Karen, go!

Inspirational signs:

Perfect timing to watch the lead runner come through at the end of his second loop.  This is Jeff Browning, the eventual winner:

Back out on the course, I managed to stay ahead of Jeff just long enough to reach the first split.  Nice run, Jeff, congrats on the win!

Yassine Diboun, eventual third place dude:

Travis Macy, moving quickly:

It's a humid and lush environment.  And quite hot, according to many runners, although the shade was great for just hiking.

Strolling through a bit of bamboo forest:

Nickademus Hollon, making it look easy.  Although compared to the Barkley (which he has finished) this probably is easy for Nick:

Roots as stair steps:

There she is again!  I took a shortcut to beat Karen to this spot and watched her climb strongly up the hill:

I believe this is Gary Robbins, course record holder and eventual 2nd-place finisher, all smiles!

Travis Macy, heading for a small ravine crossing:

Happily, I was going backward so I wasn't even close to 19 miles at this point:

Gotta love the root systems covering parts of the trail:

Danger - falling rocks! - do not go beyond this point.  Or, if you're in the race, go beyond this point 10 times...

Ah, finally a nice piece of trail:

Focused running:

Chillin' and running'

Banyan tree trail border:

A bit of scenery - with houses, must be an amazing place to live:

The bamboo forest I was looking for - so awesome.  It wasn't windy today, otherwise it would have been a lot louder (clack, clack, clack).  Luckily I got to experience that last time we were here.

Women's leader and eventual winner, Denise Bourassa, running "blurry-fast":

More challenging trail and interesting vegetation:

Gorgeous greens and afternoon lighting.  I saw one runner stop and stare at it for a few seconds before telling herself to get moving.

I managed to get a couple decent photos while simultaneously trying to find a way off the trail for the runners to pass:

Hey, it's Doug!  I met Doug during the Hardrock 100 in 2011, climbing Handies Peak together.  Great to see you again!

Looking strong, all smiles:

A tempting bench in the middle of the course, although I was fending off mosquitoes through here so maybe that's why no one was stopping:

More solid running in the front half of the pack:

Just making our way through a jungle:

A different kind of obstacle:

Go Denise, looking great!

Much later back at the Nature Center, Denise and crew working on a quick transition:

Jeff getting resupplied before heading back into the darkness.  I cannot imagine what those trails are like at night.

Next for me was a few hours of helping out at the aid station, making food and coffee, assisting with the breakfast burritos (yum!), handing out warm soup and broth, generally trying to be useful.  What a great group of people working at the aid station, time passed quickly and I really enjoyed it.

I remembered one morning post-Bandera when I went into a port-a-potty and found that some kind soul had cleaned and restocked it.  It's the little things in life when you're hobbling around barely able to walk.  So I tried to pay it forward by cleaning up the ones at the Nature Center in the morning.  Just trying to be useful.  Also - ultra runners can be a bit messy sometimes.

I got to watch Jeff, Gary, and Yassine finish, congratulations!  Also Avery Collins in 4th place.  Forgot to grab my camera until Travis and Nick finished together, tied for 5th.  Well done, y'all!

Doug is still smiling, prepping for one last lap.  Go finish this thing up!  Too bad I had to leave before he came back one last time.

Breakfast burrito material:

Very happy to see Denise finish, congratulations on winning the women's race!

What a neat event, I highly recommend going to crew, pace, volunteer, watch, be a part of the Aloha Spirit!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Haleakala volcano scenery

I went for another hike to the top of Maui, in Haleakala National Park.  I just love the views up there and couldn't resist taking the camera along.

This time I parked the car at a lower trailhead (Halemau'u), took the trail around and into the crater, crossed over to Shifting Sands trail and climbed up to the Visitor Center.  I finished with a 6-mile road run back to the car.  Most people get dropped off at the top and hike in the reverse direction, but I liked the idea of a solo loop.  Even the road run wasn't too bad.

Morning view toward West Maui in the distance:

Looking north at the greenery.  Somewhere over there is the road to Hana.

A view down into the crater.

And after making my way down the switchbacks to the bottom, here's a look back the way I had come from:

A small lava cone (scale is much reduced from the rest of the photos in this post):

Oh wait, here's another close-up, this one of a Silversword (so pretty):

Still amazed at the lunar-like landscape:

"Stick" figure in the sand:

Love the colors on these slopes, this taken while climbing Shifting Sands:

And the trail up to the top:

How lucky to have this mountain on Maui!