Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review of the HURT 100 Documentary

The video in question is titled "Profiling HURT" by Barry Walton of BTV Productions.

The disclaimer: I was asked by Barry to review this 34-minute video (it also has lots of extras and bonus features) of the HURT (Hawaiian Ultra Running Team) 100 Mile race in Honolulu, HI (URL here). He provided me a review copy, owing to the fact that I have an ultra-related blog, Mister Tristan (see I have not received any consideration, financial or otherwise, for reviewing this documentary, and my comments are strictly my own opinion.

By the way, I saw that Christian Griffith first reviewed it back on 10 Oct, here. I made it a point NOT to read his, so rest assured that these two reviews are completely independent.

My review: I was excited to review this video, since I have often thought wistfully about running this race. However, I have dismissed those ideas as being personally unrealistic, from both a logistics as well as a physical standpoint. I am not an ultra junkie with a long race history; I'm more of a journeyman runner.To establish some credibility with you all, I have run three 100s: Massanutten in 1998, an American Cancer Society track run, and most recently Umstead (March 2010), where I logged a 22:35.

Make no mistake: the pool of runners with the ability to succeed at HURT consisist of those with some talent, a lot of training, and a ton of motivation. I'd sumbit that Massanutten is arguably a comparable race to HURT. The video makes it quite clear that HURT is not something to be taken lightly.

I have in fact run on some of the HURT trails--I work for the Navy and have had numerous recent business trips to Oahu. One afternoon I recall vividly that I parked at a lot near the top of the first uphill of the race at the same time as a local woman. Ultra folk being friendly as we are, we could identify each other as trail runners (water bottles & gaiters gave it away), and we struck up a conversation. She offered to guide me on a 7 or 8 mile loop. During that hour we shared stories and laughed, and I got a great look at some of the trails used in the HURT race. They are indeed gnarly, big time, but beautiful beyond all description.

On another trip I ran the switchback trail up from Manoa Falls. That uphill was tough enough, then at the top I encountered the nastiest, rootiest trail tread that I have ever seen. This, of course, figures prominently in the video.

All in all, this was a delightful video of the HURT 100 mile race. It consisted of flashbacks of preparation and training interspersed with footage taken during the actual race. Technically the production was smooth, with excellent direction, filming, music, and editing. It flowed well as it told the story of a couple runners preparing for and then doing the race. The mental and physical challenges of the course are well-explained. And the video does a wonderful job at documenting the efforts of the race staff.

I thought the video did a good job too, of dealing with the psychological and motivational aspects of the runners. The participants did not come off as head cases; they were sympathetically portrayed via the editing process as being driven and motivated to train for the quest (there's no other word for it) that the HURT run represents.

Bottom line: Two big thumbs up--a well done production, a must-own for anyone who is contemplating doing HURT or who otherwise has an interest in the race.


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