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

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

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

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