Latest reviews by Nicole Smith
This is the first race of the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team (HURT) trail series each year. Held in March close to St. Patrick's Day, the race usually features the St. Patty's Day theme.
A small, locally hosted race, they cap registration to about 100 people and advertise it as a 7ish mile race (my Garmin recorded well over 8 miles). They don't do t-shirts or any kind of expo, but that also translates to a low registration fee ($25) which I appreciate since race registration fees tend to cost me a lot of money each year.
I wasn't sure what to expect since this was my first HURT trail series race. I was both impressed AND humbled! The local trail runners who came out to race the course which is a mix of wide dirt trail and single track hills all in a forest were a talented group, and the race course was quite challenging.
I was familiar with 4.5 miles of the course since it's one of my local trail running spots, but the extra areas of the course that they threw in was all steep single track hills off the beaten path. That kept a local like me guessing which was I found frustrating during the race. But only because I hadn't trained properly. HURT is proud that it changes the course each year to include different parts of the trail, so now I appreciate that next year there will be a bit of mystery to the course.
The HURT trail series starts with this Aiea Loop Express and then culminates its season in the HURT 100 mile ultramarathon, so it builds on distance and course difficulty with each race. Since the series is put on by ultramarathoners, they have a feast at the end that has put all the other races I have done to shame. They had BRISKET!!! Other food stars included several different kinds of meat, potatoes, other carbs, a couple types of fruit, and all the packaged kind of snacks that you would expect at a race (granola bars, etc).
If you're a local or happen to be on island when this race goes, I heartily recommend it. Be prepared for a friendly, casual vibe as most of the runners know each other, and look for the man playing the bag pipes at the top of the first hill.
Note: The only reason there is 1 star for the t-shirt/swag listing is because this local race doesn't offer any t-shirts or swag. I don't consider this a bad thing since this keeps the registration fee low.
This was my first XTerra Trail World Championship and I LOVED it! Since I've done other XTerra races I knew it was going to be a well-organized race at a world-class venue with amazing views. The registration fee was reasonable, so I signed up without hesitation.
There actually was a decent-size cohort of folks who had traveled in for the race. I am a local living here on Oahu, so when the race is in your backyard you are always surprised to see how many people fly in for a race. But I do it too, so I shouldn't be surprised.
Packet pickup was available down in Waikiki which for a local was inconvenient (and incidentally is over an hour away from the race venue). Since Waikiki is quite touristy, locals usually don't like to head there unless we have to. Especially since you always have to pay for parking somewhere. But it makes sense for the folks who traveled in and could walk there. I did wish there would've been more vendors participating in the expo since I usually like to browse the merchandise and pick up a few souvenirs with the race logo on them. But I did like the race shirt and appreciated the swag in the digital race bag, so that was nice. The race shirt was a soft cotton, and while I wear it all the time I wish it would have been a technical shirt so I could wear it running.
The race itself was AWESOME. If you havenʻt been to Kualoa Ranch (the race venue) before you are in for a treat for this race! Lots of famous movies like Jurassic Park, Tears of the Sun, and Jumanji were filmed there so it's always fun to see the old movie sets that are still there and check-out the views from the movie in person.
If you are a hard core trail runner, you could be disappointed with the trail though. It was a mix of wide dirt roads, loose gravel road, and double track trails. There were a lot of small hills and several big climbs. All of them are runnable as long as you've got your hill running legs on.
Even though this race was in late November it still was a hot, humid day. If you aren't used to Hawaiʻi humidity, I would recommend bringing electrolyte supplements. About 8 miles in after one particularly hard uphill portion, a lot of people were camped out at one aid station zonked out. I ended up sharing a salt cap with one guy who looked very fit but he said he had come out very unprepared.
There are several aid stations along the way serving Gatorade and water. And there was a good assortment of snacks at the finish line. Race photos were included with the registration fee, so that was nice. I got a link to my photos within a week of the race.
Will definitely be doing this race again, and heartily recommend it for everyone. I was signed up for the 2020 race, but it was cancelled due to COVID. Now, I'm looking forward to the 2021 edition.