A Return to Running

Well, that was interesting.

As has happened before, I slipped off to Iraq for a year, spending most all of 2011 in Baghdad.  Perhaps in another time, I would have been able to spend a year there writing about great adventures and runs, through the old parts of the city, along the banks of the Tigris or Euphrates Rivers, crossing vast open sands on foot under the cool comfort of a moonless night.

But these days?  Yeah, not so much.  I snuck in some runs, though not as many as I would have liked.  I had stretches of no running, and weeks with 20 or more miles.  I ran before the sun rose, I ran long after it had retired, and I even ran under the mid day sun when it was, yes, well past 130 degrees.  Running was a precious break that did not happen often enough, and yes, running with it is about 130 degrees is as crazy as it sounds.

I ran short runs, like a single lap around Z Lake.  I ran longer runs, like a 4.5 mile loop that took me around the lake as well as Signal Hill.  Once in a blue moon, I managed things like Lost Lake to Al Faw to Z Lake, often with others and often with one eye on the road and one eye on the perimeter.

Without a doubt, the most memorable run was Xmas Eve 2010, when three of us were doing a 1/2 marathon on our own.  On our way back from the Perfume Palace, our base came under a series of attacks — rockets and mortars, three times, in relatively close intervals.  The first attack sounded so far away, and the second didn’t.  The third was close — we were adjacent to a CRAM that fired off, and one of the rocketslanded on the street where we were running, close enough that, yeah, a little bit of pee came out (it was a bit like this.)  That run, that night, was what closed out my running in 2010 — and included my 2010th mile for the year.

Since returning to the island, I’ve returned to the trails.  I need to get back to running, and I need to get back to writing.  I’ve only got a few more months here on the island so, well, I’ll do what I can.  I run on post 5 days a week, but generally head out for some trail adventure on Sunday morning with some of the crew.  Interested?  Drop me a note and come join us for a run.

At Lost Lake, on Victory Base Complex

Gunstock Half Marathon

Summary: Set along the low hills of the North Shore, the Gunstock Ranch hosted its first half marathon and 5K run this weekend. The trail had runners circling and then crossing the working ranch, as well as through lush jungle and a well-flowing river.  It was a well laid out course, and for a first time effort, the event went off without any major hitches.  I had found out about it through the HURT blog, and with that, there were a lot of endurance runners that showed for this inaugural event; if I had to guess, I’d say that there were about 200 runners this year.

The Good:  It was a good, good trail run.  I loved the route.  I loved the most that they got the cattle off the course, but that’s just me and my bull issues.  I didn’t even mind the still-fresh cow pies along the way — it added a little somethin-somethin to it all.  And did I mention the creek?  I loved the creek — but then again, I am a Labrador.  Others, I am sure, will lodge their protest over the wide creek and delicate rocks they they chose to carefully try to cross; me, I loved seeing the creek coming, and plowing right through it.

The Bad:  While there were water points along the way, more would have helped.  I hate saying that — they have three on this course, two of which you pass twice (and did not run out).  That should be enough – but one more, especially in the second half of the run, would be a big boost.  Also, for an event called a trail run, there sure was a lot of time spent on pavement.  I understand — it can be hard to line up a 13.1 mile (or 13.7+ miles, in this case) route that is all trail, but I hope they work to find an even better route for next year that will be all trail or ranch road (which was fine, too).

The Ugly:  Only one thing: their mileage was off.  That half marathon we ran was a bit more than a half marathon.  Well organized event, for their first time putting it on; well run, all the moreso for the same reasons; and a lot of fun to run.

Type of route:  A little bit of everything.  A trail road, an off-road run, a paved road run.
Good to run in the rain? Yes.  That would be an awesome run.

Length:  13.7+ miles.  The course this year was a wee bit long.

Options for the route: They did have a 5k version.

Elevation change on the run: From around 50 feet up to around 300 feet, doing that several times, too.
Water used:  3 liters.

Where to start: Gunstock Ranch
Where to park: Same
Point your carís GPS towards:  56 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, Hawaii  96762

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes, at the water points (3 points along the route, five chances to get water).  Water, and fancy water.
Toilets? A couple of points along the way.  Nice and clean, too; well stocked.
Medical care? Did not see any.  Saw people with cell phones.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.  Private land, for the most part.
Picnic areas? Nope, unless you went across the Kam Highway.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.  Deck change, in the parking lot.

Rewards in the area:  Malaekahana State Recreation Area is on the other side of the Kam Highway from the ranch; it’s a great place to go and chill, or have a picnic, or take a dip in the deep blue sea.  We chose to stop off at Shark’s Cove, in hopes of finding more jellyfish and / or reason to buy more Maui Brewing Company beer.  No jellyfish, so we settled for some HD video of the shore break pounding some really big boulders.

You’d run this route when… you’re getting ready for the Honolulu Marathon in December.  When you want to run some otherwise off-limits areas.  When your buddy has just come back into the Army and you want to help him push himself in getting back into fighting shape.

My rating:  7

Music:  Something loud, and something booming.  This is the place to fire up some old school AC/DC, or some old Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here. Photos: here

The Big Schofield Loop

Summary: Nursing a sore Achille’s tendon, I made a rare daytime run around Schofield Battacks, Oahu, HI, on what I lovingly refer to as The Big Loop.  Starting at Richardson Pool, adjacent to the Division Headquarters for the 25th Infantry Division, I ran past the Nehelani Club to Lyman Road.  From there, I ran to the Lyman Gate, then the main / Foote gate, before heading to the McNair / back gate.  From there, it’s over to McMahon Road and out for a loop near Area X / the ranges.  After that, it’s back towards the Shoppette, and the long climb up Timble Road to Kolekole Pass.  Coming back down, I peeled off of Timble and back onto Lyman, ran past the cemetery, before making the left to return by the Nehelani Club to Richardson pool.  At 15.85 miles, it’s about as long as I’ve been able to stretch running a loop on Schofield Barracks.

The Good: Schofield Barracks, rich in history and spectacularly beautiful, is a wonder place to run, and this route covers just about everything on the base except the main drag leading to the PX, Commissary, and headquarters for the 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning).   It also includes a run up Kolekole pass, a staple for just about any runner on Schofield Barracks.  Much of the route is on paved roads that are in good shape, especially the climb up Kolekole pass.  There are a few stores on base and along the route, allowing for easy resupply of food or drink — a critical requirement given the length of the run, the elevation change and climb up Kolekole, and the role the sun can play  when away from the canopy shape afforded on long stretches of this run.

The Bad: The sun can be brutal.  While this is a fine run to do on a moon-lit night, it can be rough if not dangerous to try this when the tropic sun is beating down upon you.  Long stretches, especially out towards Area X, can leave you drained of fluids and at risk for heat related injuries.  Also, some stretches of the road are cracked, scarred with potholes or their repair, or offer little to no shoulder before dropping off to uneven ground; ankle and foot injuries can be a serious risk.

The Ugly: None.  My own regret is that the base stopped — long ago, by the way — their annual run over KoleKole Pass, across the Navy base on the other side and on to the Pacific Ocean.  That would be an awesome half marathon run, one that, in this post 9/11 world, I doubt we’ll see return.

Type of route: Paved road and some sidewalk.
Good to run in the rain? Great to run in the rain.

Length:  ~16 miles.

Options for the route: You can make it shorter.  If you’re willing to abandon the loop aspect of this run, you could also run through the main area of post, adding some more miles.

Elevation change on the run: 900 feet, up to 1700 feet or so .
Water used: About 5 liters.  I could have / would have used more.

Where to startRichardson Pool.
Where to park: Same (Google Maps)
Point your car’s GPS towards: Burr Street at Cadet Sheridan Road, Schofield Barracks, HI 96786

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yep.  All over the place.  At the pool, at various facilities along the way (like the gym), and at the shoppettes.
Toilets? Ditto.
Medical care? The finest the Army has to offer.
Ranger / park folks? Military Police (insert Park Ranger vs MP joke).
Picnic areas? Hmmmm.  Yes, at the pool.  And at a few other parks around the area.  Bowen Park is my favorite (here).
A place to change afterwards? Richardson Pool.

Rewards in the area:  The museum.  It’s fat-free, too.

You’d run this route when?  It’s dark out, and maybe rainy.

My rating:  7.  It’d score better, but on a hot day, this run is brutal.

Music:  Whatever Jody is calling.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required — well, not really)

More reading: here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: here

Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail

Summary: The Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail is a 2.25 mile trail that rises almost 1800 feet, before peaking on the spine of the Ko`olau Ridge.  It’s a tough run, for it is steep, but it is very run-able and offers a great reward in the form of spectacular views.  The locals say that you’re suppose to run to the top, come back down to the picnic table, and then run back to the top again.

The Good:  The trail is in very good shape.  Unlike a lot of other trails that go mauka on the Ko`olau Ridge, this one is wide and easily navigable all the way to the end.  There are no ropes, there’s no forced hiking; you can run as hard and as long as your legs can handle.  Being steep, there’s some erosion, but it’s been well addressed and should hold up well for a long time.  And the views — wow, the views.  Fantastic.  From Diamond Head, all the way around to the Makapu`u Lighthouse and on to Kaneoha Bay, standing at the top of the trail lets you see everything from Honolulu to the Kona Brewing Company restaurant in Hawaii Kai.  And the foliage is awesome; like the website says,

The trail traverses through an assortment of exotic vegetation typical of arid areas: Christmas berry, haole koa, formosa koa, ironwood, Norfolk pine and guava. Beyond the shelter and the guava forest, the trail breaks out of the canopy and into uluhe-o`hia-koa-lama forest.

The Bad:  Are you OK with ascending about 1800 feet of elevation, in 2.25 miles?  Because you’re going to do that.  Are you happy only running on bike trails?  This ascent features rocks and roots and stairs and all kinds of things that will make you question your footing, and question your sanity on the way down.  Now, I happen to like that stuff, but hey, that’s me.  And remember — this is an active hunting area, so be careful on the weekends.

The Ugly: Nothing.

Type of route: Trail
Good to run in the rain? It’s be a tough one, especially the last little bit.

Length: 2.25 miles to the top.
Options for the route
: Run to the top, come back down to the picnic area, then re-assault the top — that’s 10km once you get back to the car.

Elevation change on the run:  300 feet up to 2100 feet, and back down.
Water used: I used 1.5 liters, but could have / would have used more.

Where to start: Kalaau Pl, Honolulu, Hawaii 96821S
Where to park: Same.  The very end of the street is marked no parking, and that seems to be enforced.  Get there early, or your parking options won’t be close to the trail head.
Point your car’s GPS towardshere.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? One.  Mid way up, about 1.5 miles from the trail head and .7 miles from the top.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area:  The truly stunning view.  That, and the Kona Brewing Company restaurant.

You’d run this route when….it’s not actually raining Windward, and you want a nice view.  When the skies are clear, and you think you can get up there for the sunrise.  When you’re training for the DipSea.  When old ladies call you out.

My rating:  9

Music: Some classic 80’s tunes.  That is, assuming no one is close enough to you on the trails to actually hear what you’re listening to.  If that’s the case, go with NWA.

Weather / Trail warnings (yes) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: hereState Park Info: here and here

Running the Ridges of Hau`ula

Summary:  Up the windward side, just south of the Polynesian Cultural Center and the mo’o of Lāʻie, is the town of Hau`ula.  It’s home to two great ridges with state trails, and they’re both well worth the drive.  The Papali Trail on the Ma`akua Ridge features great trail running, lots of ascent and descent, and great places to see the sun rise, while the  Hau`ula Loop Trail skirts across from the Kipapau Valley and have some great ironwood forest.  There’s lots of shade, and cool temperatures prevail in large part to the gentle breezes.

The Good:  The trails are empty;  Hau`ula is definitely off the beaten path, and few venture out that far up the windward coast just to go hiking.  The trails are both in good shape right now; the Na Ala Hele volunteer crew has been out on the Papali Trail recently and touched up some spots.  At less than 3 miles, each loop is a pretty decent length and when strung together, they make a nice ~7 mile run.  The elevation change makes these loops a challenge, but not some insane punishment session; the loop trailheads are at about 100 feet of elevation, and each loop crosses two ridges and peak somewhere around 750 feet of elevation.  Access to the state beach, just down the road from the access road, is an incredible plus; not only is it stunningly beautiful itself, it has clean bathrooms, good parking, nice outdoor showers (that were cool but not cold), and conveniently just down from a 7-11.

The Bad:  This is trail running, so, no, it’s not smooth.  I busted up an ankle pretty good on a rock on the Hau`ula Loop Trail, not long after I’d caught a toe on a loop of tree root that almost sent me over the edge and down into the ravine.  For a trail run, these are good, good trails — they’re just not the bike path on the North Shore.

The Ugly:  Nothing.  It’s a great running area, with great support nearby and awesome places to go to watch the sun come up.  Nothing ugly about it.

Type of route:  Trail.  Oh, and hills.
Good to run in the rain? Yes.  Though the trails are cut into the side slope, they’re pretty wide — wide enough to make me comfortable enough to say go run them in the rain — just take someone with you.

Length: I did both loops and went up the gulch, to where the road is blocked.  All told, that and back out to the beach was 7 miles.

Options for the route: You could hop the fence and run the old & CLOSED gulch trail, but don’t do it.  They closed that trail in 1999, due to the flash flood danger, and it’s not been maintained since.  Cough cough.

Elevation change on the run: Beach to about 750 feet.  Twice
Water used: 2 liters.

Where to start: Hau‘ula Beach Park.  From there, it’s up Hau`ula Homestead Road and straight into the access road (just keep going straight, when Hau`ula Homestead Road bends left)
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Hau‘ula Beach Park, Hauula, HI 96717

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? At Hau‘ula Beach Park.
Toilets? At Hau‘ula Beach Park.
Medical care? No.
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes — at Hau‘ula Beach Park and up on Papali Trail.
A place to change afterwards? At Hau‘ula Beach Park.

Rewards in the area:  I’d recommend you pack some breakfast, and take your reward at sunrise.

You’d run this route when….  you want some strength training.  When you have enough time to drive out there.  When you want to run longer, but need a way to cut it shorter just in case.

My rating:  8.  It’d score higher with me if there were options for going longer.

Music: I told my iPod that I thought Keali`i Reichel would be most appropriate to play.  It said no, and gave me a lot of Green Day.  I still think Keali`i Reichel would have been better.

Weather / Trail warnings (generic) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: here and hereState Park Info: here and here

Manana Trail

Summary: The Manana Trail is a state / country trail in the Pearl Ridge area, that heads mauka (towards the mountains) up the Koʻolau Range.  While it’s close to six miles to hike all the way to the ridge, the lower first few miles of the trail make for some great running.  It offers easy access, great views, rolling ascent and wide, safe paths.

The Good:  The first three miles of this trail is good.   It’s a nice, rolling climb from about 1000 feet of elevation, up to about 1600 feet of elevation.  Nice wide trails, the route is well marked and easy to follow.  It mixes lots of shade with open areas of panoramic views.  And on a nice and sunny day, this is a beautiful place to go run.  Mid way up, there’s even a camping area — a nice place to stop for a sit, though there’s no water or anything other than the clearing.

The Bad:  There are a few stretches of the trail that are narrow, with a drop off on both sides.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing – it’s probably just not for everyone.  Also, parking is at the end of a residential street — I always feel guilty, parking in front of someone’s house when I head out running (though I do try and police up the trash in the area, and leave it better than I found it).  Did I mention dog poop?  Yep — some of them, unfortunately. Did I mention pig hunting? I don’t see it as a problem — I’ve never had a bad experience with hunters on the trails. But it is a hunting area.

The Ugly:  Have you noticed that I’ve been talking about the first three miles of this trail?  Well, after the three mile  mark is stops being running and turns into hiking.  Or mountain climbing.  If you’re wanting a run longer than 6 miles round trip, this isn’t it.  If you want to run to the top, this isn’t the trail for you.

Type of route: Trail run
Good to run in the rain? Yes, for the first 3 miles.  After that, no.

Length: 6 to 12 miles; I recommend just the 6.

Options for the route:  Yes — one.  There’s a split off, to go down to the Waimano Pool.  Take caution, though — it’s a steep hike down, and a mean hike back up.  If it’s raining, or been raining, it’ll be slick.  More info, here.

Elevation change on the run: Three miles will be about 600 feet of elevation gain.
Water used: A solid two liters.

Where to start:  At the end of Komo Mai Drive
Where to park:  Same.  be sure not to block the circle at the end — emergency vehicle access, so you’ll get a ticket / towed.
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Komo Mai Drive, Pearl City, HI 96782 (here)

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? No
Toilets? No
Medical care? No
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes (via).  Mid way up, at the camp site.
A place to change afterwards? No.  Which is a bit awkward — doing a deck change outside someone’s house is, well, awkward.

Rewards in the area:Try Miki’s (1001 Lehua Avenue, Pearl City, HI 96782-3334) for some grinds.

You’d run this route when….it’s a sunny, sunny day with some clouds that are mauka.

My rating:  8.  I look forward to running this one a few more times.

Music:  It needs to be something older, like the Squeeze (try this).

Weather / Trail warnings (yes) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here (great website).  Flickr: hereMore photos: here State Park Info: here

Running Baghdad

Summary: It’s time for another deviation from the regular writing, to talk about running in Iraq.  As an Army guy, well, I’ve run there a bit.  And it looks like I’ll be running there some more.  I am just back from a short visit to Baghdad, where I was able to sneak in 5 runs and about 66 miles of running.  Almost all of it was before the sun came up, in part to beat the heat but also in part due to jet lag (it’s 13 time zones from Hawai’i, after all).

The Good:  It’s flat.  How flat?  Think 80 to about 120 feet in elevation.  It’s flat.  And it’s secure.  I know, I know — it’s Iraq, and “secure” is a relative term.  But if you’re going to run in Iraq, this is a pretty good place to do it.  Also, there are gyms sprinkled all over the place, with plenty of cold water (and more pallets out in the open, all over the place).   And if you can adjust to running there, you can often find yourself running alone.  And with as many exterior lights as there are in the area, it’s pretty easy to run on moonless nights without a flashlight.

The Bad:  The scenery is pretty set.  Not a lot of variety when you’re confined to an American base.  And there’s not a lot to do to change that.  And being an Army base, there’s no running with an iPod or earphones.  Blah.  It’d also be easy to poo-poo the roads, but they’re actually in fair shape.  There’s one stretch that has some especially ugly speed bumps — not low, round ones, but rather some high, triangular ones that I think were built to trip runners.

The Ugly:  OMFG, it gets hot.  I ran one evening, at around 8pm and just after the sun had gone down, and the residual heat coming from the road and land was enough to kill a man.  That run — just 9 miles — used the full 3 liters in my Camelbak, after having tanked up on a liter plus before the run, and I still was dehydrated when it was over.  Somewhere over Iowa is a huge rain cloud, fed by the water sucked out of me when I was running in Iraq.

Type of route: Paved road that were likely made by the lowest bidder.
Good to run in the rain? Rain?  In Iraq?  Sure — if it rains, go ahead and keep running.

Length: 18 miles.  I did two laps of this 9 mile route.

Options for the route:  Not really.  9 miles is about as far as one can run around the lakes.  However, there are other options, for running around the airport.

Elevation change on the run:Maybe 40 feet, tops.  It’s Iraq — flat .
Water used:  All that I could carry.  If I could have figured out a way to run with a 10 gallon jug, I would have.  For the 18 miles, I drank 5+ liters, and still came up short.

Where to start: Base of Signal Hill
Where to park:  Right — like anyone has a car.
Point your car’s GPS towards: Um….

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes, at the gym
Toilets? Porta-potties all over the place.
Medical care? Best in the world, all just a MEDEVAC flight away.
Ranger / park folks? No, but a lot of armed people are in the area.
Picnic areas? Actually, yes — along Z Lake there are some.
A place to change afterwards? Nothing special, no.

Rewards in the area:  Cookies & Cream at the DFAC, any time of the day or night.

You’d run this route when….you’re deployed there for the year.

My rating:  4

Music:  None.  Yeah, that sucks.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: hereState Park Info: Just kidding

Keaiwa Heiau Loop Trail (aka Aiea Loop)

Summary: The Aiea Loop is a very nice, 4.5ish mile loop on the ridge up above the H3.  It’s certainly not flat, but it does run through a well-shaded area.  It’s a bit off the beaten path, and seems to only get the regular morning walking crowd, though hikers do show up from time to time.  This is definitely a hiking and running train; it’s not bike friendly in any way, shape or form.  You’ll pass the heiau on your way in; it’s worth a stop on the way out, both for the signs to read and a chance to see it (it’s a good shape).

The Good: Trail.  It’s all trail.  No pavement, no steps, no hand rails, nothing.  Quiet and peaceful, this is a nice area away from the world, perfect for running.  You’ll likely see a few people out on your run, but really, it’s solitude; even the groups of pig hunters and their dogs have been both isolated encounters, and pleasant ones (everyone, even the hunters, seem willing to say hello and stop to chat).  The coolness of the morning seems to linger a bit longer on the trail, making it a pretty good place to run later in the morning, too.  And the length is about right — at 4.5ish miles, it’s not hard (I would think) for most to get through this in an hour.  The route itself is also pretty self-evident; there are no markers, but I really don’t think any are needed.  I think you’d be hard-pressed to get lost.  Lastly, the facilities there are indeed good enough to support running; there’s no shower or anything, but there are well kept, clean bathrooms in which to change afterward, as well as water fountains.

The Bad: It’s not flat, by any means.  And I’m not referring to elevation change — I’m talking about the trail itself.  This is no city bike path; there are some places where the trail have a pretty decent angle, heading off the side and down the ravine.  For the sure footed, this isn’t a problem; lose your footing, though, and you’d be in for a spill down the side.  can you lose your footing?  Yep — the trail is littered with roots.  Zoning out and running does not mean taking an eye off of where you’re putting down your feet.  Also, there are obstacles — there are a few places where fallen trees, well, have been left, with notches cut into them to facilitated getting over them.  On a good day, they can be a bit hairy; on a bad day, they can be rather ugly.

The Ugly:  The rain and the mud.  That uneven trail can get a bit slick in spots when it rains, and I’ve seen one guy come close to sliding right off the side and down the ravine, due to the slick mud.  Now, being part Labrador, I happen to love running trails in the rain, stomping through puddles and mud, the mud here might seem like the perfect thing.  Not so.  The closest I have come to dying on this trail was trying to get over a fallen tree, on a rainy and slick day; the approach to the tree was slick, the tree itself was slick, and the footing on the other side was slick as well.  Good runs, I think, should leave you with a fresh review of your life’s history, of what you did right and what you did wrong; I had that that day.  Good runs shouldn’t mean slowing your pace, to keep from falling to your death.


Type of route: trail
Good to run in the rain? Only if your life insurance is up to date and you’re really, really into trail running

Length: Around 4.5 miles.  The park sign says 4.8, but I find that suspect.

Options for the route:  Nope, though I did spent one fine Sunday out there running back and forth, from one parking lot to the other, for about 3 hours .

Elevation change on the run:  It drops down to about 800′ elevation, and tops out at about 1600′ at the highest point .
Water used: 1.5 liters .

Where to start: Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area (here)
Where to park:  At the parking lot all the way at the end of the road.  There’s a good fountain there, a nice and clean bathroom, and a nice picnic area that’s perfect for a cool-down.
Point your car’s GPS towards:  99-1849 Aiea Heights Dr, Aiea, HI 96701.  The cross-street is Uluaau Drive.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes
Toilets? Yes
Medical care? Nope
Ranger / park folks? Yes, at the entrance (often).
Picnic areas? Yes, and even camping areas.
A place to change afterward? Yes, in the good & clean bathrooms

Rewards in the area:  Plate lunch at the Aiea Bowl.

You’d run this route when….it’s August, and hot, and you’re getting a late start to the morning after having slept in.  Or, when you want a nice, quiet, away-from-people trail run, some place where you can turn up the music and tune out the people.

My rating:  8

Music:  George Thorogood.  This would also be the place to play Whitesnake, or the Go-Go’s, because you just won’t run into someone who will ask, What are you listening to?

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and hereHere‘s some info on the crash.   Flickr: here and hereMore photos: here and here.   State Park Info: here and here.

North Shore (Shark’s Cove to RFF Opana)

Summary:  I have been in love with the North Shore since I was a kid.  Growing up on a Boogie Board in the 70’s and 80’s, it was hard not to hear the tales of Sunset and Waimea and to become enamored by the sales of sand and surf and the beautiful sea.  Since returning to the island, I’d been trying to work out a decent run to do across the North Shore, something more than just the 3 miles of bike path but something that would been me off of the thin and dangerous roads out past Turtle Bay.  Shark’s Cove to RFF Opana seems to fill that need nicely — a good length (11 miles round trip), with plenty of bike path (6 of the 11) and sidewalk running, with great views of the beaches and plenty of places to divert to see the sand and sea.  Over the 11 miles, the elevations changes very little, while the route is a mix of shade and exposed roads and paths.

The Good: This route is flat.  Gloriously flat.  The bike path sections also have a lot of shade, low volume of bike traffic, and slow bike traffic (the serious riders keep to the street, it seems, while the beach cruisers stick to the bike path).  The many beaches along the way feature decent enough bathrooms and the occasional water fountain, making this an easier run to do without a camelbak.  The bathrooms come in handy for cleaning up after the run, though I favor a dip into the cove more.  There are also some good eats in the area for afterward.  This run would be amazing if the bike path were longer, but hey, it is what it is.

The Bad: It gets a wee bit warm mid day and into the early afternoon; this is definitely a run to do in the morning.  If vehicle traffic is abnormally high, some stretches of this route won’t be much fun to run, as there’s not a lot of spare room on the side.  There can be some traffic in and around the entrance to the Kahuku Motocross  Park, but the riders always seem to do a great job leaving plenty of room for folks to go by.

The Ugly: None.  For me, the worst is looking off to the hills, knowing I can’t run there.  Out past Turtle Bay, the road really has no spare room for runners, though I know people do run it.

Type of route: Paved.  Some is bike trail, some is something like a sidewalk (though not really), and for some stretches, it’s running along the edge of the road.
Good to run in the rain? Yep.

Length: 11.5 miles, round trip.

Options for the route:Yep, with some risk.  The best would be to keep right on going, and to run to La’ie Point State Wayside.  That’d make it about 13 miles one way — and a perfect place for family or friends to come get you before spending the day at the PCC or the beach.

Elevation change on the run:Less than a hundred feet.
Water used: None, though if I’d had some with me, I’d likely have used a liter at most.

Where to start: Shark’s Cove, just past Waimea Bay
Where to park: Here
Point your car’s GPS towards: 21.645300,-158.063600, or Kamehameha Hwy at Kapuhi Street.  If you get to Foodland, you’ve gone too far.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes.  Water fountains at public beaches along the way/
Toilets? Yes, near the start / finish of the run
Medical care? Nothing specific.  Bring your cell phone to call 911, though there are plenty of people around.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? Plenty, at the beaches along the way.
A place to change afterwards? Yes, public restrooms.

Rewards in the areaTed’s(Map)

You’d run this route when….you want to relax and put in some miles without getting smoked.  With so little elevation change, this is a great cruising run.

My rating: 7.  The sun can be mean, and the whole running-on-the-edge-of-the-road thing isn’t so cool.  I did not give it extra geek points for going to the entrance to RFF Opana, though the thought did cross my mind.

Music:  Jimi Hendrix.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here.  Yes, I am a nerd.   Flickr: here and here (I like this one). More photos: here and hereYouTube: here and hereEddie Would Go, here.

Running Maui: Valley to the Sea Half Marathon

Summary:  I know that I just interrupted Running Oahu to bring you Running Prescott, but I need to interrupt again to bring you this special, Running Maui.  With three from work, I’ve come to Maui for the inaugural Valley to the Sea Half Marathon.  This event, which serves as a fundraiser for the Helekunihi Cultural Foundation, features a good route that is mostly downhill (from the start point at 1000′, to the beach) and very quick.  Oh, and it’s pretty — very pretty.  The run starts in Iao Valley, which is stunningly beautiful, and heads down to Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia’u Park, first on roads that have but an OK surface (in the Iao Valley park) and then on good road surfaces, before ending with a dash along the beach itself.  Not too bad, for an inaugural event — and not too bad for an event that had only about a hundred runners.

The Good: The route.  Downhill?  What’s not to love about a net loss of 1000′ in elevation?  And starting in the Iao Valley park is a great way to begin — the sheer beauty of the site is truly awe-inspiring (make time to go see photos of it on Flickr – here).  I can’t think of a prettier starting point for any event I’ve ever run.  I didn’t want to start; I just wanted to stand and stare for a while.  The run featured water points — water and gatoraid, always —  every two miles, with more at the end.  For a first time effort, they sure did it right.  The crew had a good spread of food and drinks after the race, and had ready the small prizes for winners of the various categories — no long delay, no checking the web later.

The Bad: Starting at 0700, and getting cooked alive my the morning Maui sun.  Ugh.  Especially on Highway 30, heading south — with the sun off to your left, with only a few trees along the way, the morning sun can be rough.  I don’t think there’s anything to be done about the route, but starting an hour earlier would sure help.  Also, one thing about the race organization itself struck me as odd — 19-39 as a single category for runners.  I hope they are able to fix this for next year.

The Ugly:  I can’t think of a damn thing.

Type of route: Road.  Some of the road surface is good, some bad.  The very end of the race is on the beach, on packed sand.
Good to run in the rain? Yes.   I was worried about the roads being slick (it had rained all night).

Length:Half marathon.

Options for the route:  Turn around and run back.  One guy did just that.

Me and my peeps

Elevation change on the run: Net sum of a 1000 foot loss.  At about the 2 mile mark is the only real climb, and it’s a short one needed to get out of the park .
Water used: Maybe 50 ounces at most.

Where to start:  The stunningly beautiful Iao Valley (Wikipedia).
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towards:  End of Iao Valley Road, Highway 32, Wailuku, HI‎

Local kids being, well, local kids in Ioa Valley State Park

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? At the start and finish.  The race featured water points, but if you were to run this on your own, you’d be out of luck for water.
Toilets? Start and finish.
Medical care? The race featured it — I actually saw a runner who was a doctor stop to help a downed runner — but otherwise you’d need to bring a cell phone and call 911.
Ranger / park folks? At the start.
Picnic areas? At the start and finish.
A place to change afterwards? Yes.  The park has restrooms and outdoor showers.

Rewards in the area:   For me, any talk of rewards in the area begins and ends with Las Piñatas (reviews here).  Point the GPS towards 395 Dairy Road at Hana Hwy, Kahului, HI, 96732.

You’d run this route when?  When they put the event on next year (26 March 2011, by the way).  Nice run, good group, good organization.  Not a run to be savored alone, but a great one for an organized event.

My rating:  7

Music:  Mash-Up Your Bootz Party “Best of 2009” an Best of Bootie 2009.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: here