Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Most Brutal Run on Hawaii Island

The second I post this, I know I am going to get a few messages in my inbox stating that I am wrong and there are plenty of brutal runs on Hawaii Island, and there is no way that the Ka'u Coffee Run is the worst out there.  For you naysayers, shush.  My blog, my whining, my opinion.

However, feel free to email me an article stating why the particular run you did on Hawaii Island is worse and I will be more than happy to publish it on this blog.  

No, anyone who runs knows that there is nothing worse than hills, heat, and loose terrain.  The Ka'u Coffee run met this trifecta and more.  

The best part of this run is just how unprepared I was for the sheer brutality it brought - I had been training for only half-marathons on flat road surfaces.  To put this in perspective, this would be like going from swimming in a pool to jumping into the ocean and expecting to be just as fast, or perhaps to go from running on a treadmill and then thinking you were going to be an all-star at beach running.  There are certain activities within the same sport that just don't translate.  Street running to trail running is one of those things.  

Plus hills suck!

The race started out easy enough, lovely fields of coffee plants, some bushes here and there, and then when the 5k runners cut out and took a nice left back to sanity, it hit the fan.  It was straight up hill.  There was no mercy at all.  

13.1 Miles Seemingly Straight Up

I know that it would seem like it is all exaggeration, but it just kept on going from bad to worse.  There were gaps in the trail to jump, river beads to skirt, rocky hills to climb...


Thankfully the views from the top were amazing.  Granted, at the time, I had no clue just how high up the "top" was, nor that there was a false peak.  If you have ever been hiking and thought you made it to the top of the mountain, only to see a new peak appear in front of you, you know how disheartening that can be,

Way Too Damn High

Thankfully I ten to not check out the altimeter on my running program while I am out for a run.  This is one of those times that I would have just been crushed if I was in the habit of looking.  Thank God I avoided that.

Up and Up

My favorite is that last damn bump right before the finish line.  What sort of sadomasochistic person designed this course?  Was that first climb not enough?  How about the second and third?  Of course not.  They decided that they just had to add one more horrific experience to finish off what was bound to be a long and sore day.  God only knows how I did not turn an ankle or die.  

Still My Favorite Run Shirt


  1. Thanks for the nicely-written account, pace and elevation charts; enjoyed the pictures, too. I am running this on Sept. 19 and now I can't say I was surprised by the difficulty of the course.

  2. I have been trail running 40 plus years and yes this is the toughest trail 1/2 I have ever done.See you this weekend.

  3. I wish you both the best on this! Sadly I wont be at it this year because I moved, but I hope you guys have a fantastic time!