Search This Blog

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tantalus Triple Trek

Tantalus Triple Trek Race Report, Sep 3 2011- only three weeks after Maunawili

They were especially sadistic when they came up with the course for the triple trek. It was arranged in a ten-mile figure eight. The first three miles were pretty much 100% uphill, steep and unrunnable. The middle section was nice, rolling hills covered in mud but runnable. Then there was a steep downhill portion. The section were the figure eight crossed itself was close to the beginning, which meant it was uphill and pretty gross. It was my second least favorite part of the course and it’s position meant that we did it twice a lap. The last section of the eight was an extremely steep downhill section that was absolutely covered in roots, after each root was a drop off of six inches to a foot (or more)... so it was essentially a giant, uneven, set of stairs that went down for a three quarters of a mile.

The first lap was pretty easy, we were all kind of bunched up on the single track trail but I managed to get in a with a group that was running pretty close to my pace. We walked almost all of the hills and ran the sections we could. The only time I really started passing people was on the steep downhill sections, I had a lot of confidence in my quick feet so I could run down them pretty well. Especially on the last stair-like section, I left the group behind. Unfortunately.

I'm learning, slowly, that when others know the trail better than you, do what they do. Don't take off on the rough downhill to gain some time when everybody else is walking it...

The second lap was kind of rough, the long, consistent climbs were tiring me out. My legs felt pretty good but it was just mentally and cardiovascularly frustrating to be constantly going up and then constantly going down. When I could run I felt pretty good but otherwise I was sucking. I dropped back and got passed by most of the people I’d run with in the first lap. Eventually I met up with a woman who was running slowly and just decided to keep her in sight. This worked out pretty well, I felt like I was running really slowly but we were making good progress. So, I figured out that the pace I felt I should be running was too fast, tiring me out so I’d stop or walk, then go again. Running at her pace I could maintain for a lot longer, making better progress. Eventually, on the same section as before I passed her again.

I made it to the aid station half an hour under the cut-off for the third lap, which had been my biggest fear (and goal) of the race. I’d been pretty worried coming into it, it was a tough course and any miscalculations would make it really hard to keep up with their ambitious cut-off time. I figured that if I could finish the first two fast enough than my race was pretty much over, I could take as long as I needed to finish the last lap.

I set out for my third lap and pretty much immediately regretted it. My knees were bugging me a little but I was having a really hard time catching my breath on the hills or keeping a decent pace. This was the yucky uphill stuff at the beginning, physically I was exhausted and mentally I was just... done. I don’t know if it was partly being sick (I’ve been coughing all week), or what, but it was everything I could do to just keep walking. I kept hoping I’d feel better, but nope.

So when I got to one of the cross roads I turned back toward the start line instead of continuing up the hill. On one hand I was really disappointed that I wasn’t going to finish my first ultra but on the other hard the only way I could have finished was to simply walk the entire last lap and mentally I just couldn’t do it. If I wasn’t going to finish half-way decently then why suffer through three-four hours of walking? Just to say I finished? What does finishing mean if you walked the last lap and it took four hours?

It sucks to not finish. I didn’t hang out after I made it back, didn’t feel like chatting it up with anybody. I just walked back to my car and went home to find some ice-packs.

Later on I checked the race results and was a little disappointed that they messed up my times. They had listed that I finished the first lap around 2:30 and dropped after finishing the second lap in 4:20, which was wrong. It looked like I hadn't made the cutoff and stopped, but I finished the two laps in a total of 5:30 by my watch (under the cutoff), then started but didn't finish the third lap (accounting for the extra hour). It doesn't really matter, I know how it happened and I doubt anybody is going to be looking my times but me, but still disappointing. Kick a guy when he's down ;)


  1. Hello, I am planning on running the TTT 50K on 1 Sep--your post kinda discourage me to do it. Was it really that bad? I was thinking of trying out one loop this weekend just to see if I am able to do it.

  2. TTT is a very pretty, very difficult race. I would encourage everyone to give it a shot at some point just to test their grit. If you are seriously considering it, I was very highly recommend going out and doing a few loops before the race. Print out the map on the hurt website and at the very least walk the course to get familiar. The area is full of hiking trails and it will cost you time during the race if you don't know which trails to take. Doing the loops first will also let you know what to expect terrain-wise, lots of up and down. If you regularly trail run or hike than this is a very cool, if difficult, race. If this is your first Hurt race, or you don't hike/trail run, than you really need to check out the course first. Remember these tips: walk the uphill sections, don't push it too hard on the downhill portions, start slow and then slow down. If you end up doing TTT let me know what you think. Hope that helps and good luck! :)