HURT can trace its roots back to the early 80s. This was the time of the running boom, and there were 10Ks and half marathons every month, and the Honolulu Marathon was the ultimate goal for most Hawai’i runners. There were very few trail runners, and even fewer ultra runners. However, these few were the core that formed the original HURT, the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team.
Originally, this was just a bunch of friends that ran together, and they rarely saw many others out on the trails. Trail races and ultras were unknown in Hawai’i, so they would travel to the mainland to enter events. There was a camaraderie among these runners that led to the desire to have an identity that would be recognized anywhere they went. Thus, HURT was born, and shouts of “HURT, HURT, HURT,” were soon being heard at races far from Hawai’i.
The original runners loved the Hawai’i trails and promoted Hawai’i trail running to whoever they could. They welcomed anyone who wanted to run trails. And if you became a regular, a friend of the group, or even a visitor to the Islands that made an impression, you might mysteriously find yourself in possession of a HURT shirt. This was your badge of membership, as there was no application form, no dues, and no official roster of members. If you loved Hawai’i trails, you were included.
Though there were many HURT “members” near and far, there was always a core group that formed HURT into what it is today. John Salmonson has always been the group’s “guru” and de facto leader. Some others from the 80s and early 90s included PJ Salmonson, Jim Budde, Bill and Punkin Burgess, Vernon Char, Ed Fishman, Carl Gammon, Randy and Cilla Havre, Alan and Vivian Nozaki, Richard and Berna Senelly, and Millie and Eric Schatz. This was an Ohana that trained together, traveled to races, had dinners and parties, and were best friends.
Since HURT was always about sharing the love of ultra running, these folks began to think about putting on races of their own. This led to the creation of the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team as a formal entity in the State of Hawai’i. The first trail race to be held was the Tantalus Triple Trek, a 50K trail race on our beloved trails. Originally championed by Race Directors Randy and Cilla Havre, this race still exists today. Another of the early races was Honolulu City Lights, an eight-tenths of a mile road loop in downtown Honolulu, run at night. Runners had a choice of distances: 50K, 50M, or 100K. And for an extra $5, could run for a full 12 hours.
As 100-mile trail races began to grow in popularity, there was a desire to hold one in Hawai’i that would both give local runners an opportunity to run a 100-mile trail run, and give visitors a chance to enjoy our home trails. Four local runners, Jeff Huff, Greg Cuadra, akabill Molmen, and Greg Pirkl went to John Salmonson with the idea, and in 2001 the HURT 100 Mile Endurance Run was born. The first HURT 100 had eight finishers. Since that meager start, the HURT 100 has become known worldwide as one of the hardest 100-mile races. Though limited to 135 runners, many hundreds apply each year.
The HURT Ohana continued to grow, and with it, the idea of introducing our trails to more people. Another generation of HURT members stepped up to direct races in the HURT Trail Series. These were runs of both ultra and shorter distances, and quickly became extremely popular with local runners. The hard work, dedication, and generosity of many HURT Ohana RD volunteers has made each of the unique events successful. The current Trail Series races include:
- Aiea Loop Express
- Ka’ena Point Firecracker
- Kealia Quad Crusher
- Mango Madness
- Maunawili Out and Back
- Peacock Challenge
- Tantalus Triple Trek
- Vi’s Top of Tantalus
During 2020 and 2021, much of the HURT running and trail activities were curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this, the HURT team continued to work behind the scenes. The goal of the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team has always been the promotion of a healthy lifestyle through running, particularly trail running, as well as giving back to our āina through trail maintenance. Planning for future activities never stopped.
In 2020, to better position itself to fulfill these goals, HURT, Inc. was formed. The new organizational structure allowed HURT to secure status as a charitable 501(c)3 organization under the auspices of the Road Runners Clubs of America. The new organizational composition will allow HURT, Inc. to continue well into the future, as younger Ohana step up to carry on the legacy and vision of the of those original runners that loved the Hawai’i trails. This benefits not only HURT, but also the many local companies and individuals that donate goods and services to our races. Current officers include:
- Marian Yasuda, President
- John Salmonson, Chairman and Director
- Carl Gammon, Vice President
- Freddy Halmes, Vice President
- Jeff Huff, Treasurer
- PJ Salmonson, Secretary
There may be a new legal name, but nothing else has changed. The Ohana continues, and the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team continues to grow the love of trail running. There is still no application and no membership fee, but the HURT Ohana includes hundreds of runners, volunteers, race directors, and those who just love and support the trails of Hawai’i.