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Hawaii 100

HAWAII 100 from akabill
January 2005

Running Man

aloha fellow ultrarunners,
Executive Summary: At 0600 January 15, 2005 88 Runners started the Hawaiian 100 mile run. As of this writing the maximum possible 100 mile finishers is eleven. So far forty-one starters took the 100k option. At least no one died.
Longer version: Last October 30 a monster storm parked itself over Manoa Valley for twelve hours and dropped at least ten inches of rain in ten hours. The storm had multiple effects on the Honolulu Mauka trail system.
Good: the rain scoured a lot of loose kine stuff off the trail and provided firm footing in many places. Bad: 1. the three sections of the system where the trail could not quickly shed the rain there was deep gullying and erosion. On one section of the "switchbacks" portion of Manoa Cliff Trail the gully was up to your armpits. The upper "cliffs" section of Manoa Cliff Trail developed monster stepdowns and hidden holes. The upper portion of Center (finishing) Trail had ruts you could fall into and not climb out of. 2. The sections where the trail easily shed water (Thanks to Aaron of Na Ala Hele) parts of the downhill side of the trail washed away while rubble narrowed the uphill side. 3. The scouring exposed an unbelieveable number of trippy toe or ankle catching roots in some of the worst possible spots. 4. The scouring exposed some smooth topped boulders right next to cliffs just after 170 degree switchbacks. That was last October, since then the rains have continued keeping the trail soaked.
I hiked parts of the trail last Monday and it looked so good that I feared it would be most treacherous for the uninitiated visitor who was unaware of the hidden dangers. I shouldn't have worried cause it rained this past week, if not during the day then at night. By Saturday morning the trails were soaked. Rain and dirt are not enough to make mud, no you need something to stir them up. At 0600 Saturday morning 88 featherless bipeds provided that something, in spades. The one defining characteristic of Honolulu Mauka trail mud is that it is SLIPPERY. It is hardly ever deep and it hardly ever sticks but boy does it make your feet go places not intended by you. As Saturday wore on all those runners little feats made sure that by evening (when I went out taking pictures) there wasn't a square inch of firm stepping anywhere. Some of the early runners tried running on the shoulder of the trail, if there was one, and all that did is make brand new slippery spots for the runners coming up behind. So I really didn't have to worry about runners taking the trail for granted. No, it was "save your own life" time from the second lap on.
How to put that in human terms? Saturday evening, from 4-6 PM I took pictures of runners on the Nuuanu section of the trail. My last shot was of a smiling Marty Fritzhand who had just completed one and two-thirds laps in twelve hours and was taking a rest before he headed out into the night. The next morning, thirteen hours later, as I headed out to shoot runners on the trail, who is the first person I see? Marty! Thirteen hours later he was almost at the two and two-thirds lap aid station. He was commited to finishing the 100K option but no more. He was reasonably alert cause when I heled up the trail saying "Laters brah" he called back "My name is Marty." I had to laugh.
Continuing up the trail, camera in hand looking for someone to shoot, I saw a few others until about one-quarter of the way up. From there to the top to The Tree at Roots nada, nobody, all alone on the trail. Next person I saw was John Robinson, in second place, not having a good time making his way through Roots. Anytime a trail can beat up a natural born runner like John you gotta know lesser mortals are in deep kim chee. Next Luis Escobar caught me up going down Aihualama to Manoa Falls. He was not a happy camper. He told me he was in fourth place with Monica ahead in third. As you can tell the remaining runners were a bit spread out. Monica came at me on Manoa Falls Trail smiling and looking fine, but then she's always smiling and looking fine. Luis checked out of the Paradise Parking Lot just as I arrived. Jeff Huff, in fifth place, looked very strong coming to aid just after I left. Jeff was the strongest runner I'd seen so far. I could tell that if Luis didn't find a fifth gear Jeff would take him and might even find Monica.
The humidity killed my camera right about then so I put it away so I could see how strong I was with two arms for balance. Not that strong. Did I say something about slippery? Except for Catra I saw the remaining 100 milers on my way back to Nuuanu. What they all had going for them was determination. Ben Cavazos in particular had that steeley smile that said "eighty six down, fourteen to go." Determination is what it takes to finish this run. Even in a good year, like 2004, if you don't start committed to finishing with no excuses allowed you won't do the 100 Hawaiian miles. If there is a flicker of doubt in your mind before the start the 100K option will be your undoing. This clearly was not a "good" year. God only knows what 2006 will bring.
Once I got to Nuuanu I spent the rest of my hike saving my own life. Ya gotta know a trail is trouble when you spend more time going down than you did climbing up just a couple hours before. At the bottom of Nuuanu Monica looked strong, but then she always looks strong and she was still smiling. I saw Luis ten minutes later and Here Comes Jeff! I expect there will be a ton of tales told on this list over the next few weeks. Believe anyone who tells you it was scary, difficult, hard, insane n lik dat. Snicker and snort at anything else. If I can bring my camera back to life I'll complete the Hawaiian 100 webshots photos later in the week.
until then
aloha and e komo mai