As I continue working on my long-term goal of running a marathon or greater distance race in all 50 states, I just checked the Hawaii box. It was a big hard box to check! I like to find obscure small rugged races. Many people know about the HURT 100. The Peacock 55 is put on by the HURT 100 family (Ohana). I was not read for 100 miles, but thought 55 was attainable. When registration opened, a 27.5 option appeared. Hmmmm. I quickly called Leanne, my partner in crime. We both quickly agreed that we’d stick with the 55. Little did we know that some people are able to complete the HURT 100, but have not been able to finish the Peacock 55.
The Peacock don’t Lie – I read a lot of race descriptions and am always skeptical about what is written and what is real. I have done allegedly rugged trail races that were more like an urban park path my grandmother could navigate. Peacock reads “PC 55 is an extremely difficult event designed for the most adventurous and well-prepared runner.“ I found this description completely accurate. Most of the course was extremely rugged, but not life threatening. However, there were places you could die. The course was well-marked and race was very well organized.
The Course is a 27.5 loop on trails and jeep roads located in the Kuaokala Forest Reserve Area above the Dillingham Airfield. Each loop has about 6250 feet of elevation gain/loss, which is mainly located in two climbs. We started with a 1500 foot rocky climb with a lot of switchbacks, then crossed a ridge to the first aid station at mile 7. Next, we ran a few not super easy miles along the top to the aid station at mile 9. From here, we did an 8 mile out and back on Long Road (very appropriately named). The first 4 miles are not bad, then you go through a cattle gate and hit steep black top for the next 4 miles in open Hawaiian sun. I could see the road paint lines peeling up from the road due to the heat. (Death Valley flashes through my mind) The aid station at the end of Long Road was worth the trek down, but then we had to go back up hill 8 miles. Optimistically, our plan was to do the first loop close to 6 hours. We came in just under 7 hours, 30 minutes ahead of cutoff. We eased our disappointment in ourselves with smoothies at the aid station. Yes. Smoothies!!!!!!!
There were 4 aid stations: start/finish, Mile 7, 3-way, and Long Road. You hit 3-way twice, so there were plenty of breaks. The HURT 100 family manned the aid stations more efficient than a NASCAR pit crew. When I came into the aid stations, people took my pack and filled it with whatever I needed. They knew what I needed better than I knew. As a person running her first 50 miler, I really appreciated all the volunteer knowledge and support. Especially on the second loop!
We headed out for the second loop. We were not highly optimistic about making the cut off times, but we had a smoothie high. We agreed to push forward and let them pull our dead bodies off the course if need be. We hit upper 3-way aid station about an hour before the 4:30 cut off. I had to sit down. A foot expert, who normally attends to 100-mile runners, bandaged my foot blister with KT tape. I was also told that the only way I would make it through the heat was with ice. I left the aid station with ice on my neck and in my sports bra. (as advised) The ice helped bring my core temperature and heart rate down, but now I was nauseous and could not eat. We trekked forward, running when able. We hit the Long Road aid station an hour ahead of cutoff and were informed that we should be able to finish. They were a little concerned with my left-leaning running form. They asked me if this was normal for me. I had no idea because I had never run more than 36 miles. They assessed me for a minute, gave me more ice and sent us on the way back up the 8-mile hill. At this point, the sun was going down and the hill was much less threatening.
The few miles were not pretty or fast, but we crossed the line about 45 minutes before cut-off. This was very humbling for both of us, since we are normally closer to the front of races. Sitting at the finish line, volunteers eagerly served me homemade butternut squash soup with ginger and rice made by RD Freddie. Immediately, I started feeling better. Now, to relax for 7 days in Hawaii. Runcations are the best!