A love for running can stretch 100 miles

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Robert Lahoe

A Peacock100 runner hits the trail during this 62-mile course.

For those who like to run here on Oahu, the 8-mile Great Aloha Run or even the epic 26-mile Honolulu Marathon may seem ideal. For those who love to run even longer and extreme distances there is the HURT100, known as one of the five hardest races in the United States. This physically demanding race is held here in the Honolulu Mauka Trail System on Oahu every January, and made up of five 20-mile loops. That’s right, this race is exactly 100 miles long and rarely do participants finish in the span of 24 hours.

Last year the male finisher who took home the first place title, Jason Loutitt, completed the HURT100 race in 22 hours and 44 minutes.

This race, scheduled to be held next January in 2013, is just one of many put on by HURT, or Hawaii Ultra-Running Team, a non-profit organization composed not only of members, training programs, and races, but a close-knit community that has been around since it first named itself HURT in 1984. It was founded by ultra-runner John Salmonson, and it is now currently run with the effort of his wife, PJ Salmonson, and several others who helped to develop this unit.

Ultra-running is what this team is all about and its endurance races prove it. Running for 100 miles nonstop is not for the weak.

“Have at least a few marathons under your belt when you start training longer distances,” advised PJ Salmonson. “It takes a lot of practice to learn not just body conditioning, but eating and drinking conditioning. It is not easy to consume enough water and food in 24 plus hour events, and everybody’s system is very different regarding what it allows you to consume. Everyone goes through stomach issues at some point during training and events.”

The entry fee to register for this competition is $200; then there is a lottery drawing for runners to be selected. Limited to about 99 participants, the HURT100 must turn down a large number of runners that apply but do not make the selection.

Peacock100 runners blaze through the scenic Peacock Flats area near Haleiwa during the 2011 race. Photo by Robert Smith

Those who don’t get in have a chance for a shorter, yet still rigorous ultra-race scheduled this October, the 27th. It known as the Peacock100, 100 kilometers long, equivalent to about 62 miles. It is located along a course high above Kaena Point in an area known as Peacock Flats, and charges $1 per mile. Runners are looking at about a $62 entrance fee.

“We try our hardest to keep Peacock unknown to mainlanders so we can accept any and all local ultra-runners, especially those who’ve been passed over by the HURT100 miler in January,” said Rob Lahoe, one of the Peacock100’s race directors who helps to coordinate, as well as personally man one its 3 first aid stations during the run.

The HURT community holds a positive family-like vibe for those who are members. While it has expanded it still maintains the encouraging atmosphere that small running groups and clubs are known to carry.

“We are all long distance runners, we all stick by each other in personal diversity, we all train together for hours on end,” said Salmonson.

“We also realize that we are involved in a very dangerous sport,” said Lahoe. This is an understatement considering 3 a.m. is the race’s start time, and it covers high elevations, rocky terrain, and brutal strain on the body for more than 20 hours of running.

The rewarding sensation of pride in one’s self for finishing an ultra-race is a prize within itself, but most often top finishers of the HURT100 receive hand-crafted works of art such as race ornaments made by UH’s art school. Any record breakers, however, receive a $500 reward for setting a higher standard and faster time than those who raced in previous years.

Anyone over 18 years of age can enter a HURT race, but there is more to competing in one of these competitions than just winning or losing.

“These races aren’t about who comes in first,” said Lahoe. “These races are about who can finish. We race against ourselves more than we race against each other.”