Occasionally events happen and circumstances arise that no one can predict. On Saturday night a tsunami warning was issued across the Hawaiian islands when an earthquake occurred on the Pacific coast line of Canada.
Honolulu & Waikiki were evacuated, and many events were disrupted as people were asked to move to high land. Unfortunately this included all the runners still competing in the H.U.R.T. team’s Peacock 100k. From all reports so far it seems that runners were ‘collected’ as they passed through aid stations, and everyone was found and accounted for. Sunday’s Ko’olina triathlon and a 30k road race that is part of the marathon-readiness series were also cancelled due to their location along the coast. The 50k runners had mostly finished before the tsunami warning took affect and amazingly by 4pm I had made it up to a ‘high’ spot near Waimea, to the location of a friend’s wedding! Dancing the night away is possibly not one of the most recommended methods of recovering from an ultra run, but it certainly helped to keep the body moving! In the early hours the tsunami warning was lifted, but by that time, having been up for almost 24hours, I was no longer a party-person and had crashed out on a friend’s floor.
The 50k itself was an incredible event, and is now firmly listed amongst the ‘most memorable’ races in my mind. When a run starts uphill, in the dark, with infectious energy and anticipation in the air – you know it’s going to be interesting!
The route followed switch backs up to the area known as Peacock Flats, and then traversed a few incredible ridge lines, where single-track over cindery slopes felt like something from another world. I ran with two others for most of that section, falling into a pace that was comfortable for chatting and sharing running stories.
Next up was ‘Long Road’ – an infamous section of the forest access system that most HURT runners can talk about for hours (and probably in their sleep)! I tried to stay as relaxed as possible, and made my down & back up the hill towards the last section, seeing a few friendly faces along the way.
The finale of the 50k was to run down & back up the switch backs, carrying a peacock feather – which I did not have a problem with! When I eventually ran into the start/ finish area for the last time to complete my first 50k ‘ultra’, emotions were plentiful – the realisation that I had actually completed the distance without any real ‘issues’ and enjoyed every minute of it was mind boggling.
I tried to think about how I would have felt if the 50k had been cancelled mid-way due to the tsunami, and concluded that yes, I would have been disappointed but juggling with such an unknown force of nature is usually not a good idea. We can learn about our bodies & minds, which is the only thing we can control, but nature can be fickle, and remembering that fact is ultimately more powerful – enabling good decision making. Halting events for a few hours or a couple of days never hurt anyone, however bitter the pill. As ‘Sandy’ makes landfall on the east coast of the US, let us hope that calm and safe decisions are made.
To sum up this weekend, I remembered a moving video that accompanies an article in November’s edition of Outside Magazine. The video captures a snap shot of Shaun Martin’s life, someone who has dedicated his time and energy to running and the community for most of his young life. Shaun’s words of wisdom are simple yet effective, and demonstrate clearly how running can help us handle the ups and downs of daily life – whether it be an ultra, a tsunami, or even a wedding.
Happy & Peaceful Trails!