XTERRA Gunstock Trails Half Marathon 2013

XTERRA Gunstock Trails Half Marathon

From left to right: Phil, Carolyne, me, Philip and Erik.

While some races you have planned all year, others just kind of pop up and you have to seize the opportunity, this one definitely fits into the latter category.  The opportunity for me and Phil to go to Hawaii came up in June, but official plans weren’t made until the end of August.  We were going to Hawaii!

Phil’s uncle, Chuck, has one of the coolest jobs in the world, he is an Imagineer for Disney.  He is based in Orlando, but when Disney decided to open a resort on the Western side of Oahu, Chuck spent two years going back and forth from Hawaii to Florida.  In June he invited to come to Hawaii so that he could show us around.  Sounds good!  Plus, Phil and I had been meaning to go to Hawaii for the last few years because we have some friends that live there as well.  In all, we had me, Phil, Chuck, Carolyne (Phil’s mom), Phil (Phil’s dad) and Erik (Phil’s brother) going on this little adventure.  Our tickets were booked from October 12th-21st.

Now this is a pretty active group and before I knew it, Carolyne had found a race to do, the XTERRA Gunstock Ranch Trail Half Marathon & 5K.  I had never done a trail half marathon, but it sounded like fun (mind you this was before I finished my second half ironman.)  Phil also signed up for the half and I thought some of the other members of our group would sign up too, but instead they opted for the 5K.  It was somewhat short notice to prepare for the race but luckily, Phil and I were pretty well trained up endurance-wise for the distance, but we were going to have to start getting in some trail time after the 70.3.

The next month and half seemed to go by really fast and before we knew it, we were boarding the plane for Honolulu.  It is one loooong flight, but we arrived in Honolulu on the 12th and met up with Phil’s family in the airport before we boarded another plane for Hilo on the Big Island.  By the time we got to our rental house and ate dinner, Phil and I were exhausted and turned in for the night.

Lava Java

We ate lunch at Lava Java in Kona on Alii Dr and watched as all sorts of triathletes rolled by.

The race wasn’t until the 19th, so Phil and I had plenty of time to adjust to the time zone change (five hours for us) and we also had a lot of time to enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer.  Our days were filled with snorkeling, climbing volcanoes, swimming with manta rays, exploring lava tubes, checking out the Ironman World Championship venue, hiking through gardens, sailing, kayaking, enjoying the local food and so much more!  On Tuesday, October 15th we left the Big Island for Oahu where we stayed at a beautiful house on the North Shore right in front of Chun’s Reef.

Chun's Reef

The view from the porch of our rental house on the North Shore.

Soon enough the day had arrived, it was time for the Gunstock Ranch Half Marathon.  In the midst of this fantastic vacation, it was kind of hard to believe that I was suppose to be running a half marathon, but here I was in my trail shoes, running shorts and tech tee, ready to go.  The weather was really nice and about 80 degrees or so, but really, how could you go wrong with any day in Hawaii?

The 5K runners were the first to start at 7 o’clock and we were treated to a very beautiful national anthem with a woman riding around on horseback while carrying the American flag.  It was very cool and very inspirational and just what I needed to get going before the race.  After that, the 5K runners were off!  Ten minutes later, the half marathon gun went off.

The course is very much like any other trail run, lots of up and down, some single track and some fire roads, but unlike Arkansas, the trails weren’t terribly technical.  It started to drizzle a little bit and it felt pretty nice, but when it stopped it was incredibly humid.  Honestly, I kind of felt like I was back in Little Rock in the middle of July, right at home.  Since this was my first trail half marathon and I was on vacation, I wasn’t trying to push my pace too hard.  It was really beautiful and I tried to just take in my surroundings.

Rainbow - XTERRA Gunstock Trails Half Marathon

A rainbow after the rain at the Gunstock Ranch.

There were two pretty interesting things that happened during the race.  The first was when I was about half way through the race.  They had notified us that we may see some college runners out on the course because they were also having a cross country meet.  I came running up to an intersection and all of the sudden a heard of male cross country runners come running toward me! I felt like I was caught in a heard of gazelles!  There wasn’t much I could do so I just stood still and waited for a gap and then ran across and out of their path.

The second interesting thing happened was around mile 11 or so.  It was in a rolling section of the trail and I came up on a guy in front of me and figured that I would walk when I got up to him.  I guess he heard me behind him because he offered for me to go in front of him , but I insisted that he go ahead and he tumbled down the hill and just laid there.  I went down to help him and told him to gather himself and then I helped him get up when he was ready.  He had gotten a nasty cut in the bridge of his nose where his sunglasses must of hit him when he fell, but other than that, he seemed fine.  I walked with him for a moment and then he began to run and he said that he was fine, so I ran on with my race.

Finish - XTERRA Gunstock Ranch Half Marathon

At this point, it wasn’t very long to the finish and I could hear people cheering.  I came across the finish line in 2:28:56 and averaged a 11:27 minute mile.  This also put me in at 18th out of 30 in the 30-34 age group.  Now, I’m not 30 yet, but since this race was so close to the date of the XTERRA World Championship, the race was technically a part of the 2014 series.

My time wasn’t fast, but I also didn’t expect it to be.  It was a fun race and it was great to do a race like this while on vacation.  Check out some more of my photos from the trip and race below.

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