Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 17, 2003

Runners go extra miles in extreme competition

 •  Graphic: HURT Trail 100-mile Endurance Run

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

Anyone who runs 100 miles through an O'ahu rainforest, guzzling miso soup and skipping past wild pigs, deserves applause. Or a head examination.


• What: Third annual HURT Trail 100-Mile Endurance Run

• When: Tomorrow, 6 a.m. to Sunday, 6 p.m.

• Where: Honolulu Mauka Trail System. Start at Hawai'i Nature Center in Makiki.

• Aid stations: 15 (5.4 to 7.3 miles apart)

• Elevation: Climb (23,750 feet), descent (23,750 feet), high (1,800 feet), low (300 feet), start (300 feet), finish (300 feet)

• Entry fee: $175

• Information: P.J. Salmonson, (808) 235-0577

Few people understand the allure of tomorrow's third annual Hawaiian Ultra Running Team (HURT) Trail 100-mile Endurance Run, said race director Greg Cuadra, who still gets shocked responses when he tells people about the 36-hour wilderness race.

"Most of them say, 'Good for you, more power to you,' " Cuadra said. "But (they) still go away with the impression that we're totally crazy."

More than 60 runners are registered in tomorrow's endurance run starting at 6 a.m. at the Hawai'i Nature Center in Makiki, and of those runners, only 12 to 15 are expected to finish the 100-mile race before the 6 p.m. Sunday cutoff time. Runners who don't complete the 100-mile race can still finish the 100-kilometer (62-mile) race.

Race records

The 100-mile race record is 25 hours, 18 minutes set last year by Utah's Ian Torrence, 29. Colorado's Brandon Sybrowsky, 31, holds the 100-kilometer record at 13 hours, 50 minutes, also set last year.

"It's been only three years, but already people are saying that we're one of the toughest (races) in the world," Cuadra said.

In 100-mile races on the Mainland, competitors run on large, well-groomed trails that Cuadra calls, "six-foot-wide super highways."

In tomorrow's event, competitors will run a 20-mile loop starting at the Hawai'i Nature Center and navigate a series of trails through Tantalus, Manoa, Nu'uanu and back. Competitors must complete five loops on the obstacle-filled course.

Natural obstacles

"It can be difficult," Cuadra said. "The roots and rocks are pretty much where God put them. With 48,000 feet of elevation change in the 100 miles, that alone tells you it's an extremely difficult race."

Despite the difficulty, the O'ahu endurance race has become more popular every year with a race-record 60-plus entries this year.

Many competitors said they are attracted to the challenge, camaraderie and the feeling of accomplishment upon finishing. One competitor, Don Fallis, 61, completed the 100-kilometer run in 24:30 last season.

"At my age, you feel like you're an athlete again," said Fallis, who started running four years ago to combat diabetes. "If you're able to do something like that, you're proud of yourself. You don't have to be (age) 18 to 25 to be an athlete."

A natural progression

Cuadra said the idea of the endurance race was hatched about four years ago by the original HURT gang: Akabill Molmen, Jeff Huff and Greg Pirkl. The veteran running group figured the 100-mile run would be a good progression from the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles) and other 100-kilometer (62 miles) races, Cuadra said.

A group of runners, including Cuadra and his daughter, Christal, a former state cross country champion from Maryknoll, went up into the mountains with measuring wheels and mapped out the 100-mile course.

Next, the group added some pizzazz to the race and organized 15 aid stations — including three that serve a variety of food such as pizza, hamburgers, pumpkin pie, kalua pig, poi, jook and miso soup, along with the ever-present Gatorade.

"Each aid station competes to see who has the more interesting food and presentation to the runners," said Mike Garcia, who is on HURT's board of directors. "It's amazing."

Creatures in the night

As an added challenge, competitors must traverse a deep forest at night with a head light, Garcia said. On some occasions, competitors must steer clear of wild pigs.

To train for the event, athletes typically run about 50 to 55 miles a week on varied terrain, with some going up to 75 to 100 miles, Garcia said.

For comparison, a Honolulu Marathon runner usually puts in around 45 to 65 miles per week, he said.

Mental toughness

Tomorrow's endurance race has lured runners mostly over the age of 30. Cuadra said the older runners may not have the speed of the youngsters, but they do have strong minds, which is very important in an endurance race.

"A lot of it's mental toughness," Cuadra said. "After mile 60 or 70, it no longer becomes a running race. It becomes a mental race. It's no longer the strength, the endurance and the speed. You have to want to keep going when your body wants to shut down, when your muscles start feeding off themselves. There's got to be something upstairs that says, 'I'm not going to stop.' "

• • •

Sites to see

• Stan Jensen's Web Site http://www.run100s.com/.

• Includes a list of the 32 100-mile races in North America with calendars, schedules and other links.

• Ultramarathon World http://www.UltramarathonWorld.com/.

• Features links, including forums, on races from 36 miles to 100 miles.

• Ultra Running Online http://www.ultrarunning.com/.

• Has links to races, and calendars as well as articles on how to get started and how to train for an ultra event.

• Kevin Sayers' UltRunR Web Site http://www.fred.net/ultrunr/

• Features links on getting started, training, coaching, clothing and race strategy.

• Jim Winne's Web Site http://www.fortunecity.com/olympia/montana/5/

• Has descriptions of ultra-race courses, including tomorrow's Hawaiian Ultra Running Team Trail 100-mile Endurance Run.

• American Ultrarunning Association http://www.americanultra.org/.

• The site is designed as a resource for news and information on ultrarunning in America.