Running with the Hawaii Ultra Running Team (H.U.R.T.)

Charging Oahu’s tropical jungle terrain and sun scorching temperatures, H.U.R.T. (Hawaii Ultra Running Team) is a group that puts the Energizer Bunny to shame. These Ultra Marathoners test stamina, will power and—some may even say—sanity. They just keep going, and going, and going. Do you think you have what it takes? Find out now, as I spend the day training with H.U.R.T. ohana (family), seeking just what makes this extreme running team tick. The first thing I notice as I drive up to the scheduled trailhead to meet my running group is the smiles and congenial familiarity with which everyone greeted each other. I must admit I had been expecting to feel much more than slightly inferior upon emerging from my vehicle to tentatively join the group waiting to begin the run. Yet I should have not wasted the time in my trepidation, as each and every runner welcomed me with such kindness and encouragement. I was informed that the trek today would be a 17-mile loop, and as I opened my mouth to make my excuses and beeline back to the well-cushioned safety of my car, unanimously the group grabbed me by the shoulders and softly shook the fear and self-doubt right out of me—using words of affirmation. And so we began. Bill Rodgers, winner of four Boston and four NYC marathons, once was heard declaring that, "The marathon can humble you." Never more has that quote become clearer than with every footstep of the climb. Ascending up, up, up, I was amazed that, as I focused on each breath being accounted for, my fellow companions were making jokes, talking story and catching up on the latest news in each others' lives. My attitude going into the run was to simply not make a fool of myself and make it out alive—to save face. And yet, as the miles stretched on, the kindness and encouragement and jovial banter of these brawny trekkers won me over. My walls came down, and yes, I was humbled. As my legs screamed louder and my muscles tightened mile after mile, I reached that proverbial runner's wall, and reached to them. And they were there. Never before have a I ever been able to wrap my mind around what would possess someone to run a marathon, or for superhumans—an ultra marathon, until that moment. Regaling me with stories of their own individual "first times," offering power bars and running snacks to share, waving water bottles right and left and even providing several (albeit sweaty) hugs, this mega group that had so initially intimidated me, I now saw them clearly—a community of friends. A family of warriors. So, you ask, over tropical and rugged terrain, in Hawaii's heat, over miles upon miles, do you have what it takes? I will hazard a guess to say yes, all you have to do is show up, and step-by-step, follow family.  Packing a Power bar wouldn't hurt either.... by Andy Beth Miller