Minch mulls over the past year and gets even by giving people titles.....
HURT 2008 was the culmination of a year’s worth of training and racing for Hawaii Ultra Runners. I was looking back over the year and am very impressed with what our small group of runners has accomplished.
Though HURT is the finale of our season it is not the entire season and does not fully reflect the accomplishments of so many of our runners during the full course of the year. So in the midst of this brief rest I thought it would be a nice moment to sit back and reflect on some HURT runner achievements and note them. I’m going to ramble here, so if you are not mentioned for you achievement or are down the list a bit please do not take offense. We all did so well it is going to be hard to recognize all the stellar achievements, not to mention that I am terrible at remembering names. Finally the Hawaiian phrases I use are of my own making. If you don’t like them I don’t want to hear your comments, its just tough.
I would give the Hawaii Ultra Runner of the year award, our Po’okela, our Champion, to Paul Hopwood, the man we all love to hate. Paul does not race a lot with us but when he does he never fails to trounce the competition. This year’s Twelve Hour was a fine example of his growing strength. There was just no catching him, or avoiding being passed multiple times—I still think he hid in the bushes a few times so he could make fun of me that much more! Paul’s performance at this year’s HURT was stunning given the conditions we faced. He didn’t lap me on my second loop but it was close. To Paul I can only say...."Please Stay Maui Brah, seeing you a few times a year is already a real pain in the ass."
I would give the HURT Runner of the Year award, the Ali’i’ai Kukini, to Gordon Lau, who has placed high in almost every one of our longer runs. Gordon has just continued to get better and better. I used to be able to run with him, and on some occasions I still can, but Gordon is the ultimate ever ready HURT bunny. You may be faster than Gordon, but there are few of us who are as consistent over the course. I would have to say that Gordon Lau is the very best Ultra Runner among us. Paul may have won the hardest races, but Gordon, at near sixty, is by far the most impressive in the number of places he has claimed in Hawaii Ultra Events, and in his continued improvement over the year. He has taken Ed Bugarian’s place as the most impressive overall performer among us strait-up and age weighted. To Gordon goes the crown of Ali’i’ai Kukini.
The best female runner of the year award, the Ali’i’ai Kawahine Kaholo, is a tough one for me to call. There have been some wonderful performances by female runners, but the women in our group generally have other worldly responsibilities that can play a part in the time they can spend training in running—children and grand children need care. The contenders are easy to name. Cheryl ran a great Western States, and had great run a t Miwok. She also ran with Don at Badwater. Steff ran at Miwok, and did a truly amazing Lean Horse. Finally she kept on going to do 100K at the HURT after spending time with Cindy when she fell. Patricia had a great running year a number of mainland races, and doing well at the Volcano. Bozo has turned in the most steady performance of the year showing up at almost every HURT race. She was out there on some very nasty training over the past months and turned in a good performance at HURT. Given the overall race and training performance I have chosen to award the Ali’ai Kawahine Kaholo to Steff who has worked very hard over the last two years and managed to become one of the strongest female Ultra runners we have in our group.
I award Cheryl the Ka Wahine Kahuna Mo’ohele title. She has been our priestess of the trails this year, guarding over us, supplying us with stash regularly, planning Saturday activities, doing a tour as a Race Director at ‘Race with a View’, and a great deal more. And she has been one of the most active, if not the most active female on the trails and was instrumental in getting a lot of people motivated and out there in bad weather and insane conditions. Cheryl ran Miwaulk, and Western States this year, and logged a lot of training miles with Don and then ran a good portion of it with him. Her unfortunate fall this past week robbed her of a perfect year. We all owe Cheryl a lot for time and effort she has given to the group. She is truly Ka Wahine Kahuna Mo’ohele.
To Don Fallis goes the Ke Kane Kahuna Mo’ohele award. Don’s season with us was restricted as he strove to run what some call the toughest ultra race in the world. His dedication to that task is legend along the ala loa pa’a ena’ena, the long hard hot highway, and those who ran with him week after week stood in awe of his commitment. (We also tried to stand about five yards away from him because in his training sweats he always smelled and looked a bit homeless and in need of a few bucks cash.) You have to walk the bottom of Death Valley in 120 plus degree heat to understand just what it means to go down that road. You have to try and stop gasping because the flow of your breath over your lips feels like it is causing blisters. You have to carry a bottle of ice water fifty yards to find you almost choke on it because it is already hot when you take your first swig. There is no worse ala loa pa’a ena’ena, and Don moved a 120 miles down and up, some very big ups, along that hard hot highway. In itself that would have been an incredible achievement, but the distance becomes insignificant when it is remembered that he did almost half of that in great agony as his iliopsoas muscle tightened up and bent him over like a slip of grass in the wind. If anyone did anything this year that can stand as an example of what a runner can do when he sets his mind to it I believe that Don’s Badwater Run exceeds all others.
Don’s constant efforts to help others, his willingness to put himself out for the group never faltered this year. If he was not running in races he was at the start/finish and then out there doing trail clean up when most others had headed home. There is no doubt that he has watched over us all a great deal this past twelve months.
There is one other category that can not go unrecognized and those are the people who managed to train the hardest and most consistently. These are the individuals that always seemed to be out on the trails when there was training or racing to be done. This is probably the hardest category to mull as we all have been out there this year, and it’s always hard to know who is out as no one can always be everywhere all the time. Case in point, I ran the night trails last year and met very few people, but I always managed to run into Bill Asheroff out there on the nastiest nights one could imagine. Coincidence?, does Bill have a second home up there somewhere in upper Pauoa flats, or was he running every night? Hard to say, but there is no doubt he was training hard and few people knew it.
I believe that the hardest training individuals of the year, the Kane and Wahine Ho’oikaika should go to Larry and Bozo, who seemed to be everywhere. Larry started running with us less than a year ago and has attacked the trails as nobody else. He was out there Saturday and then on a lot of Sundays. He showed when most, like myself, snoozed. And Larry is always a contender, always up there in the final standings and always giving it his best shot. Runner up for the Kane Ho’oikaika goes to Fish, who was out there almost as much as Larry. I got to tell you there were many occasions I was just glad that that damn sheep’s bell went tinkling off into the night as he as killing me with his fast pace and ‘too damn happy for training’ attitude. Bozo always seemed to have the sun shining on her even when there was a storm over everybody else, she logged almost as many miles as Fish, and Bozo had to be the nicest person on the trails this year, with a kind and pleasant word for everyone she met
There were many newer faces this year who came out and proved themselves strong runners, many kane and wahine holoholo who made their mark and now deserve our respect as tested trail runners, Kukini ike ka’a mo’ohele. In no particular order I would like to single out of few of the individuals who impressed me.
Maricio finished his first hundred a week ago with less than a year of training. I remember an incident in the late spring where I believe he was confused on the direction as he went up center trail. I also remember him humping up the trail not too long ago with that big blue cast on his arm. Running trails with your arm frozen stiff- now that takes some dedication to the task. To come so far so fast is quite an achievement.
Rob Lahoe ran his first Hurt loop with me in early spring of last year. It was his first night run as well. Rob marveled at how I kept at it, and it was a great deal of fun putting him through the initiation. Unfortunately Rob made it out every week for training and by the time I came back from the mainland in October he was very strong and often putting me to the test. Rob made it through eighty-eight miles of HURT before being forced out by pain and blistering in his feet, ankles, and knees. It's hard to go that far and not finish, but just getting that far proved his toughness and endurance. My hat’s off to Rob for a really great achievement this past year.
Eddie Fan always has a smile and was at every major HURT event this year. He was indefatigable in his battle with both trail and road. Eddie wasn’t the fastest guy out there, but that didn’t stop him, and he just kept at it. In the end he did his 100K in the his first year of ultra running. That’s coming a long way and Eddie’s got something else to smile about now.
Another runner who went out with me for that early night loop last spring was Everett. He dragged a bit that loop, and seemed a bit awed by the run. But it didn’t stop him, and like the others he just kept showing up and doing the big events. His confidence and toughness increased each time and by last week he was looking really good through two and a half laps. I found him hobbling along the bottom of cross over in a great deal of pain and just barely able to walk. Ev didn’t give up and he too made it in to log a 100K in the first year of his training in Ultras.
I first met Devin when he was volunteering for a few races. Talking to him I realized that he was reluctant to compete and felt he needed to give support before trying to run an Ultra himself. That’s a pretty humble way to look at things, and it was great to see him out on the trail in this HURT and giving it his best.
I was going to give myself and award, but most of the phases I can think of to describe that late summer insanity don’t quite translate. Like the fortune cookie slip read at the dinner after the first 100 miler in South Dakota. “Things have gotten out of control and you must seek professional help!”. ( I still think Murphy planted that.) It was an amazing adventure. I hope to do something like that again, but it won’t be this year. I thank you all for your support and kind words of encouragement as I wandered around the west pulling Ultra Drives, like the 1200 miles in 23 hours from Phoenix to Hot Springs S.D., and then almost jumping out of the car and running a hundred....my own kind of Triatholons.
I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of people who deserve to be mentioned for their outstanding personal efforts. If your name didn’t come up then you are probably like Harold or Ernest against whom I harbor personal grudges for always beating my ass this year, or perhaps I just took offence to you when you flew by me while telling me some lie about how good I was looking.. like that guy Hopwood! If you feel there is a gap here please post a comment and recognize an individual as this post is not meant to be exclusive. Guys like Harold and Ernest can recognize themselves as nobody else likely will.
This posting of course is made with the knowledge that our Kupuna Mo’ohele are and always will be John and PJ Salmonson, whose spirits float on the rainbows above the trails we run, and who quietly make this small running society much richer for their seemingly tireless effort. To you we offer up the essence of every trail stash with the knowledge that as we partake it brings us closer to the joy of trail running as you have always known it.