Wai`anae Kai

Summary: Wai`anae is home to the Wai`anae Kai Forest Preserve, that stretches from near Poka`i Bay all the way up to Mount Kaʻala, the islands highest point.  While a number of trails will take hikers up to Mount Ka’ala, leg-strong runners can make a good dent in running Wai`anae Kai – a history and ancient trail that heads up to a saddle just below Mount Ka’ala.

The Good:  You will be alone on this trip.  Unlike other trails down near Honolulu or even over near Kailua,   few seem to venture up these trails.  It’s not that they’re bad trails, they’re just off the beaten path.  All the better, I say.  If you head out there in the morning, you’ll likely get some shade from the mountains themselves.  Being leeward, the odds of getting soaked are much lower, too.  Oh, and the views.  My goodness — the views.  Splendid views — you’ll want to stop from time to time, just to soak up the views.  Lastly, the trails are well marked; painted bottle caps (Gatorade, from the looks of them) adorn the route, color coded to keep the various routes straight.

The Bad:  Bring your thighs.  From the parking area, it’s up.  Parking is at about 600 feet of elevation, and the power lines in the saddle are at about 2800 feet of elevation.  2200 feet of ascent, in about 2.25 miles.  If you’ve got legs, you can probably run the first 2 miles, and hike / hot air balloon up the last quarter mile.  How steep?  The paved road at the bottom has markings from what appears to be tracked vehicles — you know, the types of tracks yo see on tanks, snow cats, etc.  Crazy steep.  But it does have splendid views — you’ll likely need to stop from time to time, just to soak up the views and to keep your thigh muscles from actually exiting the skin.  I don’t really see this as a bad thing, but it merits mentioning — yes, it’s a hunting area.  So, yes, you may encounter hunters and dogs (though in all my encounters around the island, I’ve never had an issue with hunters or dogs).

The Ugly:  Cattle.  Granted, I have cattle issues already, but they are sometimes out there in small numbers.  Yes, bulls, too.  No water, no restrooms, no rangers wandering about.  It’ll be just you and a steep run.

Type of route:  Steep trail.  It starts paved, becomes a dirt road for just a little bit, and then becomes trail.
Good to run in the rain? Wow.  I’m going to say no.  You’d likely slip and slide all over the place.

Length:  4.5 miles, round trip.

Options for the route: For running?  Maybe start at Poka`i Bay and run up instead of driving up.  Running higher up on the ridgeline just isn’t possible, though there is great hiking to be had there.

Elevation change on the run:  From 600 feet to 2800 feet .
Water used: 2 liters going up, almost none coming down.

Where to start:  At the end of Wai`anae Valley Road.
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towards: Waianae Valley Rd, Waianae, Honolulu, HI 96792

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? Yes, actually.  Here.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area:  Poka`i Bay, of course.  Stop in for a dip, maybe something to drink.  It’s a great beach for just sitting.

You’d run this route when….  you’re training for the TransRockies Run.  When your thighs need a good reminded of who’s the boss.  When just running 4.5 miles is enough.

My rating:  7.  It’s good, but it’s a lot.

Music:  Stuff from the late 70’s.  Black Sabbath.  Iron Maiden.  When I ran into the bulls, I had Johnny Rotten piping into my ears, and that was followed by some classic Rolling Stones.

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

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: here State Park Info: None — it’s forest land, not state park.

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

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

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

Kailua Beach Park to Nuuanu Pali State Wayside

Summary: For as long as I have been running up and down from Nuuanu Pali State Wayside, aka the Pali lookout, I’ve had my eye on a run from the beach in Kailua to the Nuuanu Pali and back.  From my best guesstimation, I figured it’d be about 13 miles to do it.  Starting at the Kailua Beach Park in Kailua seemed like a perfect fit; I’d used it as a base of operations for a number of runs up to the pillboxes, and to the area around Kailua and Bellows Air Station.  The run from there up to Nuuanu Pali is a mix of nice, flat road running, with a moderate climb up the old road to the lookout itself.  One key appeal of this route is the shade, while the other is in running roads — old and new.  All told, it worked out to be just about 13 miles on the nose, and it’s as good a run in the rain as it is on a sunny day.

The Good:  Right distance, right difficulty.  I’ll be honest — 13-15 miles is where I’m happiest.  And really, I’m not a gazelle, so a good climb works just fine for me, too.  I think I was no more than 20 minutes off my normal time for a half marathon, a lot of which was due to the shade and the road.  The roads are a real plus — the old Pali Highway is a great escape for running, a chance to run an abandoned road that is still in very good shape (and that features some great scenery).  And the park in Kailua is a great place to start and finish — plenty of parking, plenty of water, nice showers, clean bathrooms, and nice changing rooms.

The Bad:  I don’t know if there’s such a thing as rush hour in Kailua, but if there is, running along Auloa Road might be tricky — no sidewalk, and the shoulder drops off quickly.  But we are talking about Maunawili, after all — if three cars pass, I think that’d be the rush.  There’s the one stretch on the old Pali Highway, where the trail goes under the new highway and careful footing is required; I can’t see it being fatal to anyone, though.  Also, there’s no water along the way, nothing at Nuuanu Pali that I’ve ever found.  So, you’ll need to bring whatever you may need (and with all the shade along the way, 2 liters should be enough for most days).

The Ugly:  None, that I know of.  Nice route, nice climb, nice quiet.

Type of route:  Road
Good to run in the rain? Excellent place to run in the rain.

Length: 13.1 roundtrip

Options for the route:  Yep – the Waimanalo trail instead of along the roads.  makes the run about 22 miles total, instead of the 13.1 miles.

Elevation change on the run: ~1100 feet up to Nuuanu Pali.
Water used: 2.5 liters.

Where to start:  Kailua Beach Park
Where to park:  Kailua Beach Park
Point your car’s GPS towards526 Kawailoa Road at Alala Road, Kailua, Hawaii 96734

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Water? Yes, at the start / finish point
Toilets? Yes, at the start / finish point
Medical care? No.
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes, at the start / finish point
A place to change afterward? Yes

Rewards in the area:  Step into the ocean.  That works for me every time.  If that’s not enough, swing my Moke’s Bread and Breakfast for some grinds; me, I’ll stick to the dip.

You’d run this route when….  you’re in the mood for a nice climb.  Or you’re nursing an ankle and want to stay off the trails.  Or there’s a full moon out, and not a cloud in the sky.

My rating:  8

MusicMash-Up Your Bootz, Volume 36.  That, and their Best of 2009 set.

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

More reading: here and here. Flickr: here and here and here and here.   More photos: here and here and herePark Info: here and here See also: 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

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

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

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

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

Running Prescott: Granite Mountain to Thumb Butte

Summary:  We interrupt the normal posting of Running Oahu, to bring you this special posting from Prescott, AZ.  Prescott is home to a fantastic network of trails, some made and maintained by the City of Prescott, and the rest by the US Forest Service.   Using USFS trails, I was able to string together a good run from Granite Mountain to Thumb Butte, cutting cross country for a nice 10.1 mile point-to-point run.  It’s an unsupported run; you’ll need to bring everything you’re going to need.  But the rewards are great; it’s beautiful, and you’ll likely not encounter another person during the run.  From the Granite Basin Lake, it’s Trail 345 to 351 (and the Cayuse Equestrian Trailhead), to Trail 346 which links to 332; when I got near Thumb Butte, I opted to turn left onto Trail 318, before arriving at the base of Thumb Butte.

The Good:  The weather can be great; if you make this run at any time between October and May (when it’s not actively snowing), you’ll like have great weather as the daytime temps average in the 60’s and 70’s during that time (and only goes into the high 80’s during the other months).  The trails are fantastically marked; you won’t wonder on which trail you’re running.  And prep work is a snap; between the city and USFS websites, you’ll find tons of data on the trails, the area, and the options.  And the trails?  Well, Trail 332 is due for some love and maintenance in 2010 from the USFS, but it’s still a great trail for running.  I had expected worse conditions on the trails, given the heavy snows this year, but they’re in good shape (probably in large part to the USFS crews maintaining them).

Granite Mountain Lake — a good place to have the family drop you off.  Nice place for lunch, too — clean bathrooms.

Getting out of the basin takes a few miles of uphill running.  Not too many, and not too steep of a run.

This is actually an uncommon characteristic for this run — long and straight.

The Bad:  There’s lots of info on the trails, and lots of markers with the trail numbers along the way, but there are very few maps out in the woods showing the whole network.  Running here is not a place to wing it.  And did I mention the altitude?  Granite Basin Lake is at about 5600 feet elevation, and the high points — all three of them — are up close to 6000 feet.  If you’re acclimated, great; if not, well, prepare to run slower and deal with it.

Looking ahead to Thumb Butte.  This is from the top of the ridge of the basin, on Trail 332.  “Just keep heading towards Thumb Butte,” I was told.  But do you see a trail leading there?  I sure don’t.

Here’s the view looking back towards Granite Mountain, from close to where Trail 318 splits off from 332.  Granite Mountain just seems a loooong way off, looking at this photo.

The Ugly:  No water once you get past the Cayuse Equestrian Trailhead.  It’d be nice to run into a faucet here and there, but that’s just me.  At 10 miles, a 100 oz camelbak will get you through this, though.  Of all of the trails along this route, the northern half of 332 is in the worst shape (and it’s not that bad), but the planned 2010 renovations should fix this.

Trail 332, in the middle.  High water forced me to find a new crossing place — there are worse things in the world than that, though.

Even in the winter, Trail 332 can be a hot and dry place.  With no water along the way, be sure to bring plenty.

Type of route: Trail run, point to point.
Good to run in the rain? Yes.  The water levels are up right now, thanks to all the snow, and there’s still a good amount of mud on north-facing slopes, but yeah, I’d run this in the rain.

North facing sloped hang onto their snow and moisture the longest.  Here, north-facing portions of Trail 318 have stayed muddy the longest.

Length:  10.1 miles

Options for the route:  Not really.  For a point to point run, 332 is really the only way.

Elevation change on the run:  5600 to 6000 feet.  Nothing too steep or crazy.
Water used: 100 ounces.  I could / would have used more if I’d had it.

Little if any parts of Trail 332 are anything even close to flat.  It’s all up or down.

Where to start: Granite Basin Lake Recreation Area.
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towardsHere.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

This is actually one of the wider parts of 332, just before it links up with Trail 318.

Water? Nope
Toilets? At Granite Basin Lake, and at Thumb Butte.  And I gotta say — in both cases, they were clean.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Yep.  At Granite Basin Lake, and at Thumb Butte, and sometimes out on the trails.
Picnic areas? At Granite Basin Lake, and at Thumb Butte.  Nothing along the way.
A place to change afterwards? Yes, at Granite Basin Lake and at Thumb Butte.

Rewards in the area:  Casa Sanchez, but really, I’d make the drive to In-n-Out Burgers afterward.

There are long stretches when the butte is out of view.  Sort makes for a nice treat when it comes back into view.

You’d run this route when?  When you want to do a point to point run.  When you want some rolling hills.  When the snow is melting and you want to see the snow and mud and full creeks.  When the sun isn’t brutal yet.

My rating:  7

Music:  The Eagles.  Desperado, Hotel California, Tequila Sunrise.

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

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

Old Pali Highway

Summary: The Pali Lookout rests on the only easily traversable point along the Koʻolau Range between Honolulu and the Windward side of the island, which gave it an important role in the history and development of the island.  What started as a chancy journey became a jeopardous path, and eventually a flat-out scary road.  As Oahu grew, the road became Highway 61, which still closely followed the original route down the windward side of the Koʻolau Range.  With the last major upgrades to the highway, around 1960, the old, original route was abandoned in favor of a tunnels and a new and faster descent, leaving the Old Pali Highway intact and as a great and underutilized place to run.

The Good:   Running the Old Pali Highway can be broken down into three parts.  The upper section leads from the lookout, down to where the route crosses under (yes, under) the new Highway 61.  Though it isn’t very wide, the road surface is still in very good shape.  And the mass amounts of foliage that crowd the road do just that — crowd it, but don’t block it.  Once you pass under Highway 61, there’s the Old Pali Highway, and what I think of as the new-Old Pali Highway — the easily discernible difference is in the road surface and material (and thus the road condition — the older road has held up much better).  Either way, the lower half is mostly covered with a nice canopy, providing shade for much of the run.  And it certainly is pretty — running the old road is definitely a trip through history, and a wonderful chance to away from people (I’ve only ever encountered people on the upper portion) and through some very pretty foliage.  Lastly, the grade is good; for as steep as the Koʻolau Range is, running up this won’t kill you.

The Bad:  The new-Old Pali Highway section is in meh condition.  I think that is in part due to more modern (and less durable) construction, but also in part to the large sections that are covered in moss.  I’d not want to run that part in a heavy rain; it probably gets a bit slick.

The UglyThey’ve started to charge $3 to park at the Pali Lookout.  For a place with no restrooms and no water, that seems a bit much.

Type of route: Mostly old road.  There’s one stretch, under the new Pali Highway, that is dirt.
Good to run in the rain? Fantastic to run in the rain.

Length: ~5 miles

Options for the route:  Three or more.  One is to run the new Old Pali Highway; it’s a short leg that adds just a little bit to the overall run.  Another choice, after running down the new Old Pali Highway, is to keep going on Auloa Road and rejoin Pali Highway; from there, continue on to Kailua Beach State Park before turning around (this will make it closer to a 12 mile run).  The third option is to start at Ala Moana Mall and run up to the Pali Lookout, before running the old road.  Round trip, that’s be about 15 (I think).

Elevation change on the run:  I dunno (I’ve been running it without my GPS lately).
Water used: Usually around 60 ounces.

Where to start: Pali Lookout
Where to park: Pali Lookout
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Pali Lookout

My Google Earth file: (none yet)
My Garmin file: (none yet)

Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.  Early morning, though, you’ll often find HPD in the parking lot, feeding the chickens.  Really — not making that up.
Picnic areas? Nope.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area: Nope.

You’d run this route when….you’ve had enough miles for the week, but not enough hills.  When your ankle is on the mend from too much trail running, but you don’t want to be stuck on sidewals.

My rating:  7

Music:   Guns N Roses.   And loud.

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

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here State Park Info: here