Sean asked me to go to Hawaii with him way back, or so it seemed :), because he got into the H.U.R.T. 100 ultra race on the island of O’ahu.
Since we’ve met, he’s run a lot of ultras but I unfortunately haven’t been able to join him at any of them so I was excited to finally be there for him at a big race. I was a little concerned at what I needed to do, but I didn’t have to worry because everything was super easy, for this race.
We got to Hawaii a day and a half before the race. We had to go to a pre-race briefing and packet pick-up on Friday afternoon at the Hawaii Nature Center, which would be the start, finish and an aid station.
After the briefing, they gave us a parking pass & directions to get to the other aid stations. This was a huge help and the directions were spot on. I’ve not driven on O’ahu before so I had no idea where to go. I probably could have GPS’d the locations, but this made it so much easier.
We headed to dinner with Sean’s family and then we had to set up his drop bags. He had a pretty basic set-up for this race. Fortunately, it wasn’t going to get super cold, like it can at some races so I was going to just keep his extra clothes and if he needed them, I was going to bring them to the next aid station. We just needed to get the food & drinks ready.
So what does Sean put in his drop bags?
Monster Energy Drinks, Ensure, little snack size bags of M&Ms, bags of Starburst, which he didn’t tell me until later, we had to take the wrappers off them all :), a donut, extra batteries & an extra mobile charger. I also would have his extra headlamps in case he needed them and he would keep a hand-held in his vest.
We got that all set up and then hit the sack, it was going to be an early morning and then we might be up for a long time so we wanted, or I definitely, wanted to get a decent night sleep.
We ended up getting to the Nature Center around 5am, got him checked in, dropped off his bags, I ran back down to the car to get his headlamp because it was much darker than he was expecting, and then it was time for him to go. I watched him and the others start and then headed for some much needed coffee.
I wasn’t able to go to the first aid station because while there was a parking lot, they told us we weren’t able to go there until after 9am, so Sean & I decided that I would meet him at mile 20 after the first loop. He would be fine for the first 20 miles with just going thru the aid stations without much from his drop bags. While he ran the first 20 miles, I headed down to Ala Moana Beach Park, read some of my Bart Yasso book, did some yoga and tried to relax before heading up to meet him.
I went back to the Nature Center and while everyone else just waited I headed over towards the start area so I could watch the runners come in. The trails are open to the public and so occasionally we would see someone who was just out for a hike come in. After hearing later about how the trail was, it was interesting that there were so many young kids out there.
I watched for about a 1/2 hour before Sean came in. I was able to get a few photos of him coming in then I ran over to get him some Monster, we got a photo, agreed to meet up at the next aid station and then he was off. It was super exciting seeing him come in and I know he was really happy to see me too :).
The next aid station was really special. It was the Paradise Park – Pirates Aid Station – they even had a pirate ship and everything! All the volunteers had on pirate gear and they even had a plank to walk ;). Our friend Jen, who had crewed for Sean at Tahoe 200 after her runner had to drop out, was one of the main volunteers at this station – we chatted for a few minutes and then I took a seat, waiting for Sean to come in. I didn’t mind standing, but I was going to pace him in the evening so I needed to make sure I was hydrated and relatively rested as well.
This aid station had the best food and there was soooo much of it. It was really quite amazing.
I was waiting for Sean to come in when along came his brother and family. His nephew made a Good Luck Uncle Sean sign and they had snacks, waters, etc. for Sean. It was super sweet and super cool when Sean’s brother ran into the check-point with him :). We took a few more photos, I got him more Monster, he ate a little more and then headed out.
The next aid station was about 5 miles away, so we all went our separate ways and were going to meet up there. As I was leaving, I saw this ambulance and fire truck go by – heading towards the aid station. I didn’t think anything about it, but as I waited at the Nu’uana aid station and it seemed like Sean was taking a little longer than I expected, I was getting worried. But I figured that Jen would have texted me if there was a problem.
The rest of Sean’s family showed up at this aid station. We all chatted for a bit before I saw him coming in. He looked great & you would have never know that he had already run 32.5 miles. I gave him his headlamp, another Rockstar, we took some more photos, hugs and he ate some more food before he headed off.
I hadn’t eaten anything much all day and it was about 4ish so I headed off to get some food before meeting back at the Nature Center. His family met me again to cheer him on at 40 miles. At this time, it was about 5pm and it was going to get dark soon. We got him some more food, drink and a few more hugs before he went off again.
We weren’t sure when I was going to start running with him so I wanted to get a bit more rest. I was getting a bit nervous about running with him. While I love running in the dark and have done a few trail races (Ragnar McDowell Mountain & Zion) in the dark so I didn’t have a problem with that. The bigger issue for me was being on the edge of the mountain.
I got to the Pirate Aid Station again and waited for Sean. I saw a lot of the runners that were ahead of him come in and thought he would be in soon. It ended up taking him a bit longer than I expected but I finally saw him. He came up, gave me a kiss and said he was done. I was like what? because this is a guy who didn’t sit down for over 48 hours at the Tahoe 200 even though he had a huge blister on his foot after 50 miles, this is a guy who slept a total of maybe 3 hrs in 95 hrs of running at that same race. Who ran the Kodiak 100 8 days after the Tahoe 200. To say I was surprised is an understatement, until he told me that he almost fell off the mountain, literally doing the splits and having to pull himself up. He was not having fun on the course and told me flat out that there was no way he was letting me run with him, especially in the dark.
I was fully supportive of what he wanted, if he wanted to continue on, I would support him and I would still have gone out there if he would let me to keep him company, even though I was seriously shaking after hearing he almost fell off the mountain. Talk about scary, well it wasn’t just scary to me, it was also super scary to him and after talking with a few of the volunteers, having someone who knows the course offer to pace him and us talking, he made the decision to drop out after 47 miles.
I am super proud of him and I would have supported whatever decision he made and been there at every aid station, the last miles if that’s what he wanted to keep him company.
My first experience as crew was amazing, I don’t know if it will be as easy at the next race, but HURT totally had a great set-up for aid stations & crew/spectators to meet up with their runners.
I had a great time and it was so awesome being able to be there for him. I can’t wait to crew & pace for Sean again at his next ultra race.
And so I leave you with a few of the professionals shots that were posted on Facebook of Sean during the race. The photographer info is on the photo watermark.