Get Lepo (dirty) at the Makahiki Challenge

The sun is shining on a beautiful Saturday morning as hundreds of people arrive at Kualoa Ranch on the island of Oahu. Excitement is in the air as they all prepare to take on Hawaii’s original mud run – the Makahiki Challenge.

The Makahiki Challenge has been created by the organisers to allow participants forge relationships with others and the land. A handful of people are there for the competitive race, but most are there to challenge themselves and have fun.

Makahiki-Challenge-Trail

I’m greeted with an ‘Aloha’ and friendly smile whilst getting my race bib, and a few minutes later I am in the start corral and am ready to go.

We were led down and up some small hills before coming to the first two obstacles – a bear crawl followed by dirt mounds. People quickly gave up on the idea of running as we headed up a path and towards some 9’ walls. The Makahiki Challenge had walls of varying difficulty meaning even beginners could get up and over without assistance.

Makahiki-Challenge-bear-crawl

After a partner carry we headed up another small hill towards what looked like a haunted house, but was just a shed full of tyres waiting for us to flip repeatedly. A hill sprint followed and those who aren’t used to running sat at the top to catch their breath before continuing.

Several people started humming the Jurassic Park theme song as we headed past a filming location from Jurassic World, and continued as we did the shortest sandbag carry in history (no complaints here!).

Makahiki-Challenge-Sandbag

As we headed back down the hill it was time for mud. The volunteers suggested removing shoes if people didn’t want to lose them as the pit had already claimed over 3 pairs. One volunteer pointed out the importance of making sure the timing chips were safely attached – not because of timing, but because that’s how you got your free beer tokens.

Makahiki-Challenge-Mud-Pit

Some people had a chance to clean the mud off after falling into the water at the Tarzan swing while everyone forged on ahead covered in mud. After a ring traverse we were turned into mini ninjas on the pod hop and ramp walls. Again, there were three walls of varying levels of difficulty to allow people to pick which one they attempted.

Makahiki-Challenge-Ramp-Wall

The reward was a deceptively fast slip and slide followed by a short run back to the festival area for the final obstacle – the slant wall. Half covered in black plastic with water and mud to make it slippery, it proved to be a great final challenge. This is where teamwork was put to the test as people slid in the mud whilst attempting to get their friends up and over the wall.

The unofficial obstacle of the day involved playing a game of ‘don’t get hit by a tourist on an ATV’. We ran by people as they gave us strange looks and wondered why there were hundreds of crazy people running around the ranch covered in mud. Luckily we avoided all vehicles and finished the challenge in one piece. We received our awesome medals and beer tokens and went off to join the party.

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This wasn’t my first time doing an OCR at Kualoa Ranch, but it was by far the most fun. The festival area had a great live band and people danced whilst enjoying their free post-race beer. We all got lepo (dirty) and had an incredible time in the process. Mahalo to the organisers and volunteers for putting on an awesome race. I’ll have to come back to Oahu to run it again sometime!

Spartan Race Hawai’i 2016 – Mud, Turtles, and Norm

REVIEW: A formal assessment or examination of something with the possibility or intention of instituting change if necessary

This is supposed to be a “review” of the Hawai’i Spartan Beast, but since I clearly cannot institute change, any intention to do so is irrelevant so I will instead share my experience with the Hawai’i Spartan Beast.

Firstly, however, let me provide some backstory. In 2013, I was in good enough physical condition to run elite heats of Spartan races. Back in those days, there were no age group trophies, and I never hit the podium but I did well enough to earn a season pass for 2014. Life circumstances changed yada yada, elite physical condition went away yada yada, Joe and Andy broke up yada yada, and I stopped doing Spartan races, for a variety of reasons. Since then, I’ve discovered that I’m not an OCR addict but rather an accomplishment addict. I’ve gone on to do well in longer events like Death Race, World’s Toughest Mudder, and SISU Iron. (full disclosure: I only technically “finished” one of those events, but the long slog was accomplishment enough)

I thought I had some unfinished business with Spartan races, however, and that business looks suspiciously like a block of wood. It irks me even now that I don’t have one and there are people with multiple blocks out there that I HAVE BEATEN IN RACES. I can’t believe I don’t have a block of wood.

So…my oldest son had graduated high school and was readying to launch into the world and I thought a nice little trip to Hawai’i would be just the thing and oh hey, grab a block of wood while I’m there.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHLSDFJLASDFALSHFDLASHDFLKHASDFHOMGLOLHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

But I digress, aka collapse on the floor in fits of laughter at my pre-trip delusions of grandeur.

We arrived in Honolulu, went straight to Snorkel Bob’s to rent gear and proceeded to snorkel for ten hours, sans sunblock. [Btw, I’ve never been sunburnt like this before. I have new compassion for white people because now I get it. I’m sorry melanin-deficient folk for what you have to go through every summer. I’ll never scoff again.]

It was amazing!! I saw beautiful angelfish and needlefish and shrimp. I SWAM WITH SEA TURTLES. We had four days of this:

Spartan Race Hawaii Sand

IT REALLY LOOKS LIKE THAT. It really is paradise on earth. Save up, sell an organ, do whatever you have to do, but get yourself to Hawai’i before you die.
So I get to the race late. No one that knows me is surprised by this. I register for open heat Beast Sunday morning. I head out, back and legs all crispy and warm. I’m wearing long-sleeve heat gear, brand new CW-X tights, compression socks over Injinjis with properly lubed toes, Inov-8 Mudclaws, a cooling neckband and my lucky white visor that I always wear. I’m ready for unfinished business, or at least, I look ready.

I’m not doing a blow-by-blow because no, but here’s a pic of the course:

Spartan Race Hawaii Course

Now, I have done a lot of damn races. I have NEVER seen mud like that. Even in my Mudclaws, the only way to get up those hills during those mud climbs was by hanging onto the trees for dear life. Did you hear about this? IT WAS REAL. Because I had Mudclaws; I was able to pass hella people on the way up but I still slipped and struggled a lot. I have no idea how long those mud climbs were but that shit seemed like HOURS.  Dave Huckle, founder of Weeple Army, captured the slog on his GoPro when he wasn’t using both hands to not wipeout in the mud.

Spartan Race Hawaii Beast Mud

Then I saw Norm Koch. I pointed at him. He pointed at me. Suddenly it all made sense. What I thought was gonna be a run through the woods leading to a nice block of wood for me to enjoy looking at was, in fact, A NORM COURSE. Those of you unfamiliar with Norm courses need to realize that this is not your regular Spartan race. This is some next level shit.

Norm was the 9,347,509,234 person to tell me my pants were ripped. I had ripped at ~mile 4. We laughed.

Here is some really important info to take away from this article. If you see someone on course with ripped pants:

1. They know about it. Or
2. They don’t really need to know about it, because
3. What the fuck can they do about it, really?

Eventually, a few people were spared looking at my ass because I ran into a friend who graciously let me borrow his shorts. I ran into said friend ~2 miles from the end however, so basically this is how I did the Hawai’i Spartan Beast.

Majestic, isn’t it? What started out as a tiny hole was enhanced by burpees, squatting to pick up the atlas rock and so on. I have close friends that don’t know me as well as the strangers behind me during the barbed wire crawls.

So…did I enjoy the Hawai’i Beast? I’m still not sure. A few weeks earlier I had been telling another friend that I’m considering stopping OCR altogether after this year. Every morning my ankles hurt when I get out of bed. I don’t get the thrill anymore. When the Beast was all over and done with, I was all “meh”, even though it was REALLY. FUCKING. HARD.

It’s become predictable. You’re gonna go far, carry heavy things, do a bunch of burpees, climb some ropes blah blah blah. When I know I can do something, there’s not a real accomplishment there. I don’t have to be in “elite” physical condition to be able to do the crazy long stuff that provides more outlet for me. I just need to be able to do for a couple of days straight. When the Beast was over, I COULD HAVE KEPT GOING, and would have preferred to do so, especially if I didn’t know what was still coming. That’s really what my jam is now.

I still feel like I have that unfinished business, though, so I don’t know. I could burn all this fat off and go for it again. We’ll just have to see what happens. Love and respect to all of you and major apologies to those who received a face full of my butt.

Spartan Race Hawaii Flaunt It

Photo Credits: Leah Erickson and A.J. Jaeger Photography

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