Rock Bottom and Back: my Hurt 100 Mile Run

I am finally attempting to revisit my “vacation in Hawaii” … the HURT100 mile trail race. Thinking about HURT makes me hungry, so I am eating peanut butter from a knife, and all the frozen perogies from my boyfriend’s house.

Why? ? ?

Last year, I paced a friend for 40 miles / 64 kilometers at the HURT100, and I was instantly sold. There was delicious food the whole way, amazing trails, and a vibrant, loving community of runners behind the event. The terrain is a technical trail runner’s dream, full of slippery rocks and routes and cliffs. I LOVE that type of terrain, and I was captivated. I ran with a ukulele my mom loaned me, eating amazing homemade food and singing and strumming to help my runner along, while playing in the roots. I desperately wanted to try running the course without the ukulele. A few months later, I entered the lottery without a second thought.

Oh – Before we really delve in… for those who are blessed to not know too much about the event, Josh does a great job of explaining why it’s particularly fun in his blog here.

HURT was going to be my 2nd 100-miler, and at the time of signing up, I hadn’t even done my first one yet. I was pleasantly oblivious, just going about my registration and thinking about the roots and rocks. And as all these lotteries seem to go, I got in, because I really, really wanted to.

This Will be Fun!

Two months before HURT, I started to worry. I had just run the World 100k in Qatar and felt pretty badly burnt out, but I also felt unprepared for what I would encounter at HURT. The 100k was on the road, so I hadn’t run on technical trails in months, and I stopped any kind of hill running. This seemed quite opposite to HURT, and I worried that I wouldn’t be ready in time. But I had already booked my flights to Hawaii, and I had even enrolled my boyfriend, my dad, and my stepmom to come along too! I decided that I would forget about the anal training and approach HURT as a pure fun run, just there enjoying the awesome people, the fun trails, and the delicious aid station food.

Julien Swing

Galivanting around Waikiki on a day before the race.


Boy, was I in for a special surprise!

Realization: Laps are Not Fun!

Fast forward to Hawaii and it’s lap two of five in the race. I was really well-behaved in the first lap, going out pretty casually and letting a few women ahead of me without thinking about it. But now on lap two, the warm, humid Hawaiian weather came out to destroy us, or maybe just me. Quite quickly I became nauseous, and the idea of completing 70 more miles, going round and round, seeing the same trees over and over, seemed like a horrible trap. After Qatar, there was no way I was going to do another death-like, hot, nauseous, multi-looped course, that soon! I wanted to escape, and I found lots of supportive reasons inside my head… My purpose was to have fun. What am I doing out here if I’m not having fun? (No answer found.) DNF-ing has a bad reputation, I think it’s fine. Everyone will totally support and agree with me. Plus, everyone will love to get out of here and go to the beach, get Mai Tais. It’s okay, ultras aren’t my thing.

I decided I would quit.

Downward Spiral

I still had one more aid station before the Nature Centre, but I decided I couldn’t make it the 10 miles back to the Nature Centre, I would just DNF at the next station. Plus, this way, I could easily quit without friends and family around! I would walk all the way there, slightly grinning in satisfaction.

About a kilometer from the aid station, I started being more honest with the runners around me, sharing proudly that I was about to quit. Then there was this great guy named Greg who walked beside me for a bit. I don’t know what he said, but he turned my spirits fully around, and I was convinced I could go at least one more station, to the Nature Centre.

I had seven miles to the Nature Centre, and it was plenty enough time to sink right back down to Quit status. My nausea was coming and going, but I had already resigned, I wasn’t ready for all this suffering. Lots of other friends running were on my case, trying to help me stay in the race with positive messages, even random energy drink packets… (Thanks Ace!) To my delight and just in time, I started to feel light knee pain! I knew that no one would argue with potential injury.

Finally, I walked it in to the Nature Centre with a grin in my face, to tell everyone I was DONE! I had completed 40 miles of HURT! 40% Done. I’ll take it! I was stoked to pull the plug and hear everyone’s excitement to go to the beach.

Walking in with the plan to quit HURT, glee!

Walking in with the plan to quit HURT, I have a big grin going on!

You look way too fresh! Is what they said instead.

Matt Barry came over and diagnosed me: Knee pain? Where? Oh, that’s just the IT band, you can stretch it out, it’s not a bad injury as long as you stretch it out. Here, take a seat, put your feet up, and eat this.

Julien took Matt’s instructions and started to kill my IT band back to life. Meanwhile, my dad fed me sandwiches, and a wonderful volunteer made me feel like I was actually golden, with a few words. You know, I’ve never been through here in this time, you’re doing awesome, you have tons of time, you could even take an 8-hour nap and finish. Take your time and see how you feel in a bit!

Linda Barton-Robbins even brought me a beautiful bird, which she was feeding from her hand. It was magical!

As my friends and boyfriend and family and all the volunteers came to help me, everything turned around. I went from angry and out of place on the course, to stoked, motivated, full of life and love. I was really excited to get back out there and get to work, and see what I could do with what I had left. Nothing like a thirty minute break!

HURT can be fun

HURT Takes a Village

The next three laps are still surreal to me. I ran them with fairly even splits, even through the night, and my last lap was my fastest. The whole time, I felt this sense of love, from all the amazing HURT supporters. With that feeling powering me, I slowly caught about 20-30 people until my deadline, the finish line, at 100 miles. I got to run one fun lap with Julien, and together we went on this fun running hunt from 30th place overall, to 12th overall (2nd female). It literally took a village to come back and find enjoyment at HURT. It was over 28 hours in the end, and I’d say a good 22 of those were really fun, thanks to all the people who kept my spirits high.

Because I didn't quit, I got to stand beside these champs and we all won amazing, hand-made ukulele's with wood derived harmlessly from the HURT course!

Because I didn’t quit, I got to stand beside these champs, the top three men and women. We all won these amazing, hand-made ukulele’s with wood derived harmlessly from the HURT course! Come play in our new ukulele band!

Try to Avoid Sleeping on the Ground After 100 Miles

Back at the campsite a few hours later, I made a pretty bad mistake and almost suffered from heat exhaustion. Napping in the hot tent, in retrospect, was not a good idea. Thankfully, I was carried into the cold shower at the campsite and any remaining mental health was salvaged.

Also, just FYI. If you plan to buy a “camping setup” from Walmart Hawaii, I would not recommend their 1-inch mattress cover as the “bed”. You might as well not buy anything and just sleep right on the ground, I think it would feel the same. Maybe also consider not camping, what an idea! Remember, you will be acting a lot like a hospital patient, and you may be better off in confinement, in a small hotel room. I always learn tons of new things after 100’s!

Batter Up?

If you plan to run HURT, soak up all the love from those people around you, it will get you through! Those awesome trails are only fun for so long, (10 miles) and after that, you better have another reason!

You can check out all the results from my HURT buddies this year here. 🙂
And also, great reports by my North Van pals Josh and Nicola, and by amazing Oregonian Amy!

The more typical Hawaii!

The more typical Hawaii!







One thought on “Rock Bottom and Back: my Hurt 100 Mile Run

  1. Pingback: Best Trail Snack Ever: Barbie’s Divine Hurt 100 Bars | not running for gold

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