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7 Miles from Glory: Marylou Corino’s HURT 100 Redemption

7 MILES
Marylou Corino’s HURT 100 Redemption

7 miles- a run I can often do in the morning before work or even squeeze in during my one hour lunch break.  I fell 7 miles short of finishing the HURT 100 back in Jan 2017.  That was my first DNF (did not finish).   I took not finishing it quite personally. I have finished everything I had started up until that point and couldn’t leave this unfinished. I am just not wired that way.

As soon as I returned home, I was determined to go back in 2018 to finish it. Needless to say those 7 miles would fuel what would be my most intense year of training to date. In order to succeed the following year, I had to examine what didn’t work the year before.  I figured out three things:  a) I needed to move faster (especially at night). b) I needed to work on my hiking skills and c) I needed to stay fueled and hydrated properly during the race.

photo: Augusto Castro

I really wanted to find terrain that would mimic the race course as much as possible. Anyone who has done HURT knows that is not an easy task to replicate that twisted and grueling landscape.  The HURT 100 boasts 24,500 feet of climbing. It consists exclusively of technical, single track trail on surfaces that include (HUGE) roots, rocks and soil in a wide range of conditions from sun baked clay to mud of varying depth. Sudden hairpin turns and steep inclines of up to approximately two miles in length are a common occurrence. Very few sections of the course can be run with a consistent stride for more than several hundred yards at a time. There are a total of 20 stream crossings.

The Bruce Trail, here in Ontario, is filled with rocks and roots so I spent a lot of time on this trail getting my feet used to that type of terrain.  As a flatlander, I needed to improvise on trying to get some good climbing in. I spent hours doing hill repeats, climbing on the treadmill, stair climbing, and hill work on the elliptical. In addition, I was trying to make the legs even stronger through strength training. I spent morning, lunch hours, afternoons after work and at night getting the training in. Most days were double or triple workouts. I wasn’t even sure I was in the race yet.  (The lottery didn’t happen until August).

Simply put, from February to August I was training for a race I wasn’t even sure I was going to run. I woke up some mornings wanting to do nothing but sleep. But in the corner of my eye I could see the HURT 100 shirt from 2017 hanging in my closet (never worn) and that was enough for me to get up and out of bed. It’s important to ALWAYS remember why you are doing something so you continue to chase it.

I ran quite a few races in 2017 but I felt the following three would help immensely in getting me ready for the HURT 100. I signed up for the Cruel Jewel 100 (close to 110miles) , Barkley Fall Classic ( “50km”) and the Grindstone 100 In Virginia. All three were challenging in different ways. I spent 2 nights completing both hundreds and the BFC had its own unique climbs. I didn’t run any of them fast but with each race I was developing my mental strength and stamina which I knew I would need to complete the HURT 100.

Fast Forward to Saturday January 13, 2018. I was at the start line of my second attempt of the HURT 100. Dan, my husband, was right there by my side.  He has and continues to be my biggest fan and supporter.

As I was trying to soak in this second chance, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. So many hours of hard work and sacrifice brought me to this moment.  I knew there was nothing more I could have done. I had a great support system at the race and back home.  The race started and all those nerves went away.  I broke up the race in parts, just focusing on getting from one aid station to the next.  I finished the first loop in just under 5 hours and 20 minutes. I am not sure even now if that was too fast. All I knew was that I needed to be faster than last year. The course was just as beautiful and tough as I remembered it.

photo: Kalani Pascual

I had a quick bite to eat, changed socks, and started loop 2. It definitely got warmer and I seemed to be getting hungrier faster. I decided to eat every 45 minutes and eat large quantities of food at the aid stations because at HURT there is always a monster climb after every aid station. I got through loop 2 before dark and it was here where I took a few minutes to change clothes, devour a monster cheeseburger from Dan, and get ready for the night portion that would cover the jungle during loop 3.

Last year loop 3 was my race breaker. I lost so much time in the dark that I started loop 4 chasing cutoffs the rest of the race.   I made sure this year to have a good headlamp and flashlight and neither disappointed.  Navigating HURT during the day is hard but having to navigate it during the dark feels like you are running a completely different and more sinister race.  I finished loop 3,  1.5 hours faster than last year. This gave me a huge confidence booster although I wasn’t celebrating just yet.  I still had 40 miles to complete.  I was also very lucky to have shared some good miles with Joshua Holmes. We were never more than 15 minutes apart. I do believe without a doubt he helped push me through that third loop.

I was quite sleepy during loop 4 but needed to stay awake and focused on the trail to avoid a fall or injury. I never felt alone during the race. It always encouraging to see runners on the course and every aid station was lively and celebratory no matter the time.  I got to see Andrea Kooiman not only at the Nu’uanu aid station where she was volunteering but also at night when she paced Joshua. She had DNF’d and time out at mile 93 the year before I did. She returned last year to successfully finish the race. Our paths crossed many times and this always lifted my spirits.  I could often hear her from as far as 2 miles away. The ‘Nu’uanu Boom-Box’ as they called her on the trail.

Both Andrea and Joshua were a great source of support for me as I got ready during 2017 to attempt HURT the second time around. We bonded at several events including the Badwater Salton Sea where we were a 3 person team that had to stay together for all 81 miles.

During the 4th loop (80 miles in) I saw my second sunrise and finished that loop leaving about 9 hours to complete the fifth and final one. I just needed to keep moving to get that buckle. This is where the extra ounce of mental toughness I developed during training and running harder trail races came in.  A pacer ran with me for about 14 or 15 miles and this made the time go by somewhat quickly.  As I left the Nu’uanu aid station at mile 93 (one last time and with time to spare!)  I felt overwhelmingly joyous. I was going to complete those 7 miles that I couldn’t complete last year.  Although it was still 7 difficult miles to finish the race, it felt like a victory lap of sorts. The past 12 months of hard work had paid off.

Coming into the HURT 100 start/finish area for the last time is a feeling I soon will not forget.  I lifted my hands up, rang the bell and kissed the sign in a time of 35:40:15. I had done it…all that hard work…redemption!

And as the sign says  “We wouldn’t want it to be easy.”  That’s good because I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Marylou Corino (RIF #411)
HURT 100 Mile Finisher
35:40:15
January 13-14, 2018

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- who has written 1059 posts on Run It Fast®.

Joshua Holmes has completed 204 marathons/ultramarathons while running 100+ miles 43 including races such as the Badwater 135, Western States 100, The Last Annual Vol State 500K (3x). He is the founder of Run It Fast, the most driven club on the planet. His favorite races to date are the Vol State 500K, Badwater 135, Barkley Fall Classic, Catalina Eco Marathon, Chimera 100, Across The Years, Savage Gulf Trail Marathon, Strolling Jim 40 Miler, Tunnel Hill 100, RUTS, EC100 and the Flying Monkey Marathon in his home state of Tennessee. Follow @bayou Follow @joshuaholmes on Instagram

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