By Tracy Meyerson
As I continue working on my long-term goal of running a marathon or greater distance race in all 50 states, I finally checked the Hawaii box—and it was a hard box to check. Many people know about the HURT 100 — the Peacock 55 is put on by the HURT 100 family (Ohana). I was not ready for 100 miles, but quickly called Leanne, my partner in crime. We both agreed that 55 miles was attainable. Little did we know that while some people are able to complete the HURT 100, others have not been able to finish the Peacock 55.
The Peacock doesn’t lie – I read a lot of race descriptions and am always skeptical about what is written and what is real. I have done “allegedly” rugged trail races that were more like urban park paths my grandmother could navigate. Peacock’s website reads, “PC 55 is an extremely difficult event designed for the most adventurous and well-prepared runner.“ I found this description to be completely accurate. Most of the course was extremely rugged, but not life- threatening.
The Course is a 27.5-mile loop on trails and jeep roads located in the Kuaokala Forest Reserve Area above the Dillingham Airfield in Waialua, Hawaii. Each loop has about 6,250 feet of elevation gain/loss, which is mostly split between two climbs. We started with a 1,500-foot rocky ascent, then crossed a ridge to the first aid station at mile 7. Next, we ran a few not-super-easy miles along the top to the aid station at mile 9. From there, it was an 8-mile out-and-back on Long Road (appropriately named). The first 4 miles are not bad, then runners go through a cattle gate and hit steep blacktop for the next 4 miles in the open Hawaiian sun where the road paint was peeling from the extreme heat. The aid station at the end of Long Road was worth the trek down, but then we had to turn around and go back uphill. Optimistically, Leanne and I had a plan to do the first loop close to 6 hours, and we came in just under 7 – 30 minutes ahead of cutoff. We eased our disappointment with smoothies at the aid station.
Aid Stations: The HURT 100 family manned the aid stations more efficiently than a NASCAR pit crew. Volunteers took my pack and filled it with whatever I needed. They knew what I needed better than I did. As someone running her first 50-miler, I really appreciated all the volunteer knowledge and support. Especially on the second loop.
Second Loop: Leanne and I headed out for the second loop and were not highly optimistic about making the cutoff times, but we had a smoothie high and agreed to push forward. We hit upper 3-way aid station about an hour before the cutoff and I was told that the only way I would make it through the heat was with ice. It helped bring my core temperature and heart rate down, but then I became nauseous and could not eat. As we arrived at the Long Road aid station an hour ahead of cutoff, we were both informed that we should be able to finish. They were a little concerned with my left-leaning running form and asked me if this was normal. I had no idea because I had never run more than 36 miles. Volunteers assessed me, gave me more ice and sent us on our way back up the 8-mile hill. At this point, the sun was going down and the hill was much less threatening.
The Finish: The last few miles were not pretty or fast, but we crossed the finish line about 45 minutes before the cutoff. This was very humbling for both of us, since we are normally closer to the front of races. Sitting at the finish, volunteers eagerly served homemade butternut squash soup with ginger and rice, made by the RD, Freddie. Immediately, I started feeling better. It was time to relax and enjoy seven days in Hawaii.