When i first got into ultra running (a couple of years ago), there were three races in particular that caught my attention and i've kept them at the top of my list ever since. They happen to be arguably three of the toughest ultras you can find on the planet. The H.U.R.T. 100 in Hawaii, the hardrock 100 and the badwater 135. They are all about as opposite as it gets in terms of terrain. Hurt is in the rain forest of hawaii and features about 25,000 ft of climb. How much climbing is that? Imagine running from sea level to the top of mt. Everest and back down in a single run. I think the descents are what will be tough on loops 4 and 5 though. the climbing alone is enough to make it tough, but thats not the real challenge at this race. What really makes this race hard is the terrain or "trail" if you can call it that. Its so littered with roots, and mud, and rocks, and more roots. Also, with it being in the rain forest there's a pretty good chance of rain and everything is muddy and slick.
|a photo i found from the H.U.R.T. 100 course|
The course is five 20 mile loops consisting of out n' back spurs. Its a very odd layout for a course being that the whole race is basically on the same mountain. There are three aid stations and they are located in the valleys and they all meet at the top of the mountain. so you pretty much summit the same mountain a total of 15 time during the race from different directions.
|Salomon Speedcross 3|
|Another pic from the H.U.R.T. 100 course|
The thing that drew me to these races is the challenge. Once i discovered ultras I knew i wanted that challenge and to be faced with that decision to either quit or search deep within and find some sort of motivation you didn't know you had and somehow finish it. Hurt has put many runners in that situation and for the most part won. Hurt has one of the lowest finishing rates of any ultra out there (not counting the barkley type that aren't designed to be finished). over the 11 year span it averages around 25% finish rate. It offers a 100k option, but here's the problem with that. Im going out there to finish a 100 miler, and mr. crownover is going out there also to pace the final 40. Now what a waste it would be for him to travel the middle of the pacific to show up ready to run only to find me quitting. Chances are, there will come a point during the race that I feel worse then I ever have. I'm going to have to really dig deep for this one. This will be the first race where I will see the sun rise twice on the same run and sleep deprevation will be a huge factor. Who doesn't love a Hawaiian sunrise though?
When i got picked to run, i contemplated doing cactus rose in October in fear that it would mess up training for hurt. I had been focused on cactus for a while so the thought of not running it didn't sound appealing to me. Plus doing two 100's eleven weeks apart is very reasonable. well it bit me in the ass and i was sidelined for about five weeks following the race due to a knee injury. looking back at it, it wasn't that big of a deal anyways since i could have used a break from running and a good recovery. the whole time i ate horrible and packed on some pounds. i planned on putting on 5-8 on purpose, but that turned into 15 before i knew it. so now i sit here 6 weeks before the race only running a handful of times in the past month and 15 pounds overweight.
Hurt this year has one stacked field with quite a few very talented male and female runners that are capable of competing with the best. since training isn't going as planned, i've decided to take a more relaxed approach. I think that will increase my chances of finishing plus its kind of nice going back to the mindset of having fun and remembering what its all about. my goal is to not wear a watch at all during training, and i deleted my pace chart that i made up for the race. I want to start the race very relaxed and see what the course is all about on loops 1 & 2. Loop three i may bust out my ipod to mix things up and have some fun out there. if all is going well and i want to take it up a notch for loops 4 & 5 and shoot for a goal then thats cool. the approach im taking is very similar to my first 100 attempt at the 2010 cactus rose.
|HURT 100 course|
Im taking a little different training approach as well. I recently watched the movie "indulgence" featuring Anton Krupicka and really liked his relaxed approach to training. I don't really consider it training, he runs everyday with no gadgets and just for the love of running. Before cactus i ran all of my long runs for time and stared at my watch and pace the entire time. it was excellent training and very fun in a way, but i want to enjoy running in its raw form for the next month. My goal is to not wear a watch at all until after the race. Just have a general idea of how many hours i want to run and go out and enjoy the day on the trails. I think it will be a good mix up for my training and hopefully i'll reconnect with why i love running. Im do not plan on going slower by any means, but just 100% by feel and when i feel like quitting i'll go home. simple as that.