Trail Marking, Taper Run, and Pot Luck; October 22, 2011
Meet at the Dillingham Airfield Parking Lot at 7:00 AM on Saturday 10/22 for a brief light run and some trail marking, followed by a Pot Luck.
Gordon has asked me to post a request for volunteers to mark the Peacock trail this Saturday Morning. We will be dividing up into groups and heading out of the Airport parking lot at 7:00 as usual. We will then meet up back at the airport at about 11:00 for a Pot Luck. All are invited to come and do a bit of trail marking, a light taper run, or more if you wish, and then we will do a Pau Hana to our Peacock training. You don't even need to go up the Kealia to show up for the Pau Hana.
Gordon needs some volunteers to do A. Upper Kealia and Are's Loop B. Gordon's and Lower loop. C. Cross Over to Rock Piles. D: The Kuaokala Makua Ridge from Balls to Stash.
Important Race Day Note: If you plan to enter the airport prior to 7:00AM you will be required to present current vehicle paper work. (Insurance, registration, inspection). Please check you paperwork prior to race day so you will not be barred from coming in due to this preannounced idiocy.
An Ode to Peacocks
The mountains have been climbed and re-climbed, the long stretches of twisting trails and fire roads have been memorized, the infinite ups and downs have been suffered and the culmination of another running cycle draws near.
Peacocks, which was so recently an audacious experiment, then born an ambitious 54+ miler, morphs into a full-blown madly-rugged 100+ K, and is now upon us! We've crammed in all the training possible and stand waiting, wondering what to do other than be out running hard along the northern ridges of the Waianae. One last chug up the hill perhaps? One last visit to the panoramic vistas we will have little time to appreciate on race day? Maybe, or are we just yielding to the unbreakable habit of over training?
It is always at this particular point in the cycle that each of us asks ourselves the questions, 'Am I truly prepared? Did I do enough? Will I even finish?' And we are forced to look back on our training efforts and draw some conclusion, post some grade, for better or worse, concerning our preparation in meeting the lofty goals we set for ourselves so many months back. Of course, with Peacocks the answer will always be an honest 'No…'. Even Gordon had doubts as he pushed hard on the last real week of training, and was full of questions about his ability as he headed up Kealia for the second time, hoping to get in a hard forty, one last push, making one final 'Gordon would Go' effort to be ready. Gordon has designed a course that is a nasty test of his own proven abilities; the ultimate statement of Peacocks' incredible challenge.
The inability to answer the readiness question in the affirmative, to always have honest doubts about doing well, or even to question one's ability to finish the race, is what makes Peacocks, a world class race and an instant Hawaiian classic. It fits so well into the tradition of the longer Trail Series races. It is the natural next step in the progression from Maunawili, and Triple Trek, the obvious follow-up to the naive question 'What's next?' It is where the real ultra runners appear, and where many have been born. Peacocks has become the Kukaniloko, the birthing stone, of Hawaiian ultra running. It is on the Kealia, the Kuaokala, Cross-Over, and Long Road that runners come to find their ultra souls, discover the enchantment of the long and the difficult, learn to transcend their own doubts, and proudly regard themselves as ultra runners.
A great race course should be stunningly beautiful, and Peacocks flies beyond this boundary. On almost any day it is hard not to stop repeatedly along the winding trail up Kealia and and stare out over the northern ocean broken by humpbacks at play, or look eastward down the white wave lined North Shore coast, or stare at the far reaching verdant valley of the Wahiawa Plain, the cloud shrouded Koolau blue in the distance. It is impossible to concentrate fully on any run when the color of the pacific enchants the eyes and fills the heart with joy, when one's spirit can so easily drift off and float like the gliders that rip by in the wind toward the far horizons. Then, deep in the high hidden valleys one is surrounded in cool verdant greenery and strides through a timeless natural world that brings peacefulness to the soul. Peacocks, our Po'okelanani.
Beauty is the yin, while hardship the yang of a great race. Peacocks mocks any theoretical level of 'necessary ultra difficulty' offering rockbound hardship guaranteed to inflict deep and permanent emotional and physical scars on any ultra runner attempting the course regardless of training or ability.
Most will agree that a great ultra race should have more than one outstanding physical moment, it must offer a pantheon of harshness where the mind is pulled from its fragile hold on reality and thrown to the wind. For Peacocks such moments are highlighted by the extraordinary; the long unending climbs up the switchbacks and red clay roads of Kealia; Kuaokala with its long draining climb up the western ridge lines that begins deep in the bowels of the dark valleys and ratchets ever higher toward the ridge line summit overlooking Makua; the eternal hard hot and dry trek through the endless valleys of the cross-over; the devastating Long Road repeats and their infinite array of terrible turns and awesome vistas; and the winding harshness of Are's Loop with its deceptive closeness to shore, and then its almost vertical upward conclusion. The list could be refined and expanded but the point is made: Peacocks takes your breath away and leaves you in agony time and time again.
Any truly honest attempt at Peacocks challenges the soul, tears up the heart, and can leave the strongest of runners unsteadily wandering the road jibbering incoherently. Peacocks repeatedly releases runners to the lowland shore, only to sadistically claw at their reserves and force them back into the high hills and valleys where it devours goals and exposes illusions. Peacocks ambushes runners from the trail-side undergrowth, slashing at resolution and eviscerating self assuredness with the stone knife of Kukukinimamaunui, the god of ultra running, offering up many a runner as sacrifice to the god. Peacocks can leave the strong and confident crying for their mama's arms, or begging to dance with any devil who promises release from the mountain. Peacocks is the rogue black panther of trail races that can attack you and drag your soul into some tree high on the Makua ridge, there to feast on it for an eon or two.
Long after the race is complete, Peacocks can steal into your night dreams, gnawing at your insides, mocking you for your gutless failures during the race, and unwinding nightmarish memories of dark moments when you saw through the shoddy facade of your life into the terrible truth of your miserable existence and despaired all. You will awake, heart pounding, sweating and drained, still fearful that your failures have doomed you to treading high tails endlessly among the Marchers of the Night.
Very few Hundred Mile Runs can lay claim to such an impressive list of physical challenges, and very few groups other than HURT would seriously consider this a doable 100+K race course. Perhaps it is just our great fortune for extraordinary geography and beauty here on Oahu, but I believe it essentially arises out of the soul of the mountains of Waialua. The Hawaiian warrior spirit still dwells high in the hills and fills the minds and bodies of all who run this course. It fires our competitiveness and ultimately entices us all to meet the seemingly impossible challenges of the race. Our blood surges and the anticipated glory of Hawaiian victory bursts within and we are one with the glorious past. In another moment the aura of the fabled gateway to Milu, the dark afterlife of Hawaiian mythology, which lies deep in high Waialua, slips up on us in the shadowed reaches of the high back valleys. The despair of the dead as they wend unending on their eternal forced march round the dark fires of purgatory, seeps into the souls of all who traverse these mountains: There are times we run Peacocks not to meet a challenge, but because we have simply come to know nothing else. We suffer the run, because on Peacocks we have come to know only running to suffering.
The sun rises gloriously on the Waialua mountains and sets mysteriously far beyond them. The heat of the sun and the power of the warriors' challenge, the dark loneliness of the moonless night and the desperate weariness of the doubtful survivor, lies before us. In one instant we run hard and victorious with Hawaiian knights gloriously meeting all challenges, in the next we push painfully and wearily on alone, fleeing the shuffling dead and their insistent whispers to join them. In either moment the experience of Peacocks is a reflection of the magnificent spirit of these mystical mountain ridges and valleys. We, the living, simply give life to past energies and a reflection on the meaning and power of our beloved island world
Peacocks. An Hawaii race. Our race.