After missing last year, Mrs Notthat and I joined All Day Ken and his wildly better half Karen in a VRBO on Round Top Drive that had a ridiculous view.
Also staying with us were Erica, running her first HURT (she had paced a loop several years earlier, so she had an idea of what she was getting into), Veronica (her pacer who had never seen the course before), and photographer extraordinaire Howie.
The pre-race briefing was as fun as it usually is. The only real news was that a boardwalk of sorts had been installed over a famously root-infested section of the course, but that runners were to ignore that boardwalk and run on the roots as normal. (I don't have a picture of that boardwalk, but in the ones I've seen, it looks reasonably solid, if narrow, but mostly it looks completely out of place. I'm not a tree pathologist, but I doubt walking/running on the roots is hurting the trees much, and that boardwalk really messes with the iconic look of that bit of trail.)
|"It's like a [redacted] superhighway up there!"|
A quick note, in case you know nothing about the course. It's five 20 mile loops. Each loop has three legs with an aid station at the end of each. Each leg forces you to climb Mt Tantalus. Over and over and over again.
It's not a complicated course, but there are a few bits that have caused runners to go the wrong way. Up on top, Cindy is an angel that hangs out and points runners the right way during the night. The left side of the figure eight can be a problem because you have runners on the same bit of trail going the same direction that have to make the correct turn for the particular leg they're running (white is heading out while orange is heading back). This sounds simple, but it's really easy on lap three in the dark to just follow a runner that it turns out is going the wrong direction for you.
One good thing about the course is that it gives you lots of chances to see the other runners.
A race morning not soon to be forgottenLook at this picture. All Day is ready to go (minus his shoes since those were kept by the door). Or is he?
He turned out to have completely forgotten his bib. There was a bit of stress while trying to work out how to get it in time for the race start, but, well, everyone knows All Day and he is one of the few that could probably get by without a bib. In any case, Karen and I brought his bib back to the start after the race started, and it was ferried up to the first aid station. Paradise Park. Pirate-infested Paradise Park. They had a tiny bit of fun with the bib.
|Pirates with bib booty. Picture probably by another pirate.|
The next weirdness of the dayAfter making a second trip to the start area, this time with The Bib, we headed back to the house to rest up a bit. Crew is not allowed at the first aid station, so we wouldn't see All Day until after about 13 miles. I was volunteering at Nu'uanu aid station for the 1:30 AM to 6 AM shift, so, when we got back, I went to bed.
Then, a little after 8 AM, our bit of the world turned nuts.
There were four of us in the house - Karen, Veronica, Mrs Notthat, and myself. The alert left no doubt that we were doomed. I had a really hard time believing it, although I also had no reason to doubt it. I got on the computer to try to get more info, but couldn't find anything. We turned on the TV to local channels and CNN and saw nothing, except the local channels occasionally showing a banner at the bottom repeating the alert. We could hear police cars in Waikiki making announcements, but couldn't hear what they were saying.
The more I couldn't find any real news, the more I started to doubt it. Then I saw a post that said some agency in Hawaii had confirmed the alert was a mistake. And finally, 38 minutes after the first alert, a second one appeared that confirmed it was a mistake.
|Picture from unknown. Apparently there were abandoned cars that caused traffic issues for a bit.|
Once the all clear was given, the runners were allowed to keep going, and it was decided to add 30 minutes to the race's cutoffs. (Note: I will be disappointed if there isn't a new rule added to the 2019 Book of HURT based on this situation.)
And the race kept goingThe rest of the race went mostly to plan. I spent some time at the Nu'uanu aid station just to watch the runners as they got their laps done.
|Eventual winner Avery Collins was WAY out front and on his third lap while most were still on their second lap.|
|The perpetually smiling and overall second place Guillaume Calmettes on his third lap, heading out of the Nu'uanu aid station and bravely passing between the tiki gods.|
|Erica on her second lap, coming in to Nu'unau. (That stream crossing was a bit trickier than it looks, especially as you got more miles on your legs.)|
|Ken showed up a bit before my shift started. The aid station had lights strung up all the way to the stream crossing!|
|Nu'uanu party central.|
Once I left Nu'uanu a bit after 6 AM and regained cell service, my phone blew up with text messages. First was a set about Erica and her pacer Veronica possibly being off course (they weren't). Next was a set that they were going to stop at the end of the third lap - those 60 miles had been tough and, after doing a bit of math, there was no way they were going to make the first cutoff (mile 80) to start the last lap.
(Note: To officially qualify for the unofficial "Fun Run," you need to finish three laps and then the first leg of the fourth lap. That's really hard to do if your car is sitting a few feet from where you currently are. Which is the point, I'm guessing.)
I went back to the house to try to get a nap, but the FOMO was too strong, so Mrs Notthat and I headed up to Paradise Park to watch the final runners on their last lap. I walked out a bit to get a few shots.
|Mike was struggling mightily to try to get this finish. A few of his muscles were betraying him though. Still, he made it out and headed to Nu'uanu.|
|Alicja finished up her Fun Run, and was happy with that. (I had seen her in the middle of the night and was not convinced she would make it this far - she recovered nicely!)|
|Look really hard and you can see All Day and his pacer Malory.|
At the end of All Day's fourth lap, he knew he was pushing the cutoffs, and knew he would need someone to push him. Christy had paced him from Nu'uanu to the Nature Center, but she did not know the course and was struggling to keep up with a motivated Ken. In a moment that is pure HURT, Malory just happened to be standing there and offered to pace him around that last lap. They did not know each other at all (Malory, it turned out, had finished the race the previous year in a bit over 34 hours - she was a perfect person to pace him!). Even better, part way through the first leg, she mentioned to Ken that her mantra was "All Day" - she had no idea that she was pacing Mr All Day himself!
From Paradise Park we headed back to Nu'uanu.
|Kelly was looking amazingly strong considering she had gone 93 miles of this course. She would end up getting her first HURT finish!|
|Mike made it to Nu'uanu, but had to make the call to stop there. So close to his first finish, but his issues were getting worse, and the wise thing to do was to live to race another day. This was a bit heartbreaking.|
|Malory leading Ken out of the stream. They were SO focussed and moving like a team that had worked together for years.|
The finish line did not disappoint. Kelly finished in well under 36 hours, and now we were waiting for Ken. Nothing like a little bonus drama.
Then, with less than nine minutes to go, this happened.
He did it. His third finish was in the books. Wow!
Wrapping upIn the end, the near perfect conditions led to a record breaking 60% completion rate (78 of 128 starters). Five runners finished in the last 30 minutes. 18 runners finished the Fun Run, with Mike getting an Ultra Fun Run with his 93 miles.
Monday night's awards banquet was a blast as usual, with the unveiling of this year's unique "trophies."
|The top three women and men got these really nice boxes that contained bits of the three aid stations and a place to hold a tea cup. (Note the missile that was added at the last minute.)|
|Yes, that's Mrs Notthat shoving a dollar bill in that guy's shorts. What happens at the HURT banquet should stay at the HURT banquet, but I couldn't resist this.|
And that's about it. The HURT weekend is an amazing experience, whether you are running, pacing, crewing, volunteering, or spectating. It doesn't hurt that it's on Oahu. These trails are stunning - it's hard to picture just how challenging they are without trying to run them. Just getting one 20 mile lap done is quite an achievement.
A huge thanks to the team of race directors, all the volunteers, and the members of HURT (Hawaiian Ultra Running Team) for working so hard to make this such a memorable event.
That's it - move along…
PS: Here are links to some other pictures I uploaded:
• First Day
• Nu'uanu Night Shift
• Second Day
• Hiking the Makiki Loop on Monday