The 2005 HURT Trail Series got off to a great start on Saturday, April 16, with the Top of Tantalus 7 mile run. The lookout at Pu`u `Ualaka`a State Park set the stage for the 53 eager participants as the sweeping, panoramic view featured a sunrise over Diamond Head crater, a blue Pacific Ocean with gentle rolling surf along the South Shore framed the city of Honolulu and the radiant white granite of the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery. This could possibly be one of the most uniquely beautiful starts of any race in the world.
A relatively dry, well groomed trail coupled with a Bluebird morning set the tone of the race with local favorite Kevin Murphy dashing from the start to be the first runner over the sun drenched, dew covered lawn of the park, across the parking lot and then, ducking his head, he vanished through a hole in the thick woods that appeared to be custom made for Bilbo Baggins. The rest of the pack snaked their way behind him until all seemed to be sucked, one by one, right into the verdant foliage of the forest.
From that point the trail plummets down a roman column-like, tree lined corridor to the beginning of the `Ualaka`a trailhead. It is a short run through a lush forest canopy. At the uphill end of the trail, the runners encountered a 4-way intersection with the Makiki Valley Trail providing the thrills for the next leg as the runners then descend into a roller coaster of technical terrain featuring footbridge crossings, large mossy rocks, Swamp Mahogany roots poetically interwoven with Eucalyptus and native Hawai`ian plants.
The trail continues down past Kanealole Trail then climbs to a sharp right-hand turn onto Nahuina. The gradual ascent along the west side of Makiki Valley gave runners the opportunity to stomp through a mixture of mud, mango and guava concocting a vintage that would appease the olfactory senses of the Greek god Bacchus himself. Finally, a banana grove led the runners out onto Tantalus Dr. where Kevin was the first runner over the guard rail followed by One-arm Willie Stewart of Redland, CA.
Runners were provided an aid station at the beginning of the concrete road where the Kalawahine Trail intersects Tantalus. After being greeted by the elegant Miss Rose sporting the sleek lines and sinewy torso of a professional racer, they vanished, once again, into the diverse Island vegetation. Still leading the way was Kevin Murphy with Willie focused on his heels. Seconds later behind the leaders came Paul Sibley followed by Yang Sun Carpenter, Ben Cavasos, Jeff Huff, and defending women’s champion Diane Kohara respectively.
The runners then traversed the cutting edge of the Pauoa Valley Snail Sanctuary. It winds in and out of gulches along the way providing several breathtaking views of the valley and the northern end of Honolulu that would slow the pace of even the most competitive of runners. A hard right at the Manoa Cliff Trail and the runners wormed their way up a claustrophobic labyrinth of weather-beaten switchbacks. Then, through an aisle of Ginger, the runners finally reached an opening at the Pahoa Flats intersection where another hard right allowed them to stretch their legs on a clean, single track trail that bursts out onto the Manoa Cliffs. The long, gradual descent that contours the Tantalus Crater provides spectacular views of 3 waterfalls in the back of the Manoa Valley. After a short, steep climb up a set of stairs, the runners sped through yet another thick Guava forest to a stepped gravel descent ending at Round Top Dr.
Directly across Round Top is the Moleka Trail that traverses the upper east edge of Makiki Valley through a crowded Bamboo grove that offers an occasional glimpse of both Honolulu and Tantalus. This section completes the loop back to the 4-way where Kevin and Willie, still together, took the hard left turn and headed for home. Both runners raced the exhausting climb culminating with a climatic battle from the bottom of the chute ultimately ending with Willie setting the new course record of 59:57*. Kevin followed with an awesome finish of 1:00:56.
Both runners collapsed on the lawn for a few minuets to catch their breath while Ben Cavasos (1:09:17) edged out Yang Sun Carpenter for a third place finish overall. Yang Sun won the womens division with a new course record of (1:09:25*.)
Men: 1) Willie Stewart 59:57* 2) Kevin Murphy 1:00:56 3) Ben Cavasos 1:09:17 4) Mike Rouse 1:10:59 5) Paul Sibley 1:11:14 6) Jeff Huff 1:11:48 7) Bob Egbert 1:13:51 8) Alex Osheroff 1:14:35 9) Darren Mingo 1:14:56 10) Jim Murray 1:18:42.
Women: 1) Yang Sun Carpenter 1:09:25* 2) Diane Kohara 1:19:14 3) Bozo Vierra 1:26:23 4) Jessica Kirkpatrick 1:29:06 5) Christina Clinton 1:30:12 6) Karen Sotero 1:37:18 7) Kat Tagaca 1:38:52 8) Reina Jenkins 1:42:47 9) Val Ogi 1:45:40 10) Jaime Preniazek 1:51:07.
Congratulations to all the runners and thanks to the HURT volunteers that came out and made this race a lot of fun. If you have any suggestions or comments, we want to know.
The next race is the May 14th, 8+ mile Run with a View.
Start/Finish information will be posted on the H.U.R.T. Hawaii blog soon.
You can visit us on the web at www.hurthawaii.blogs.com
We would like to thank Na Ala Hele for their continued dedication to providing excellent maintenance and access to this beautiful trail system.