Running along the coast of the picturesque Maui shoreline, in the early morning hours, with an Epic5 Athlete will remain in my memory for a lifetime. The Epic5 Challenge, which consists of 5 full Iron Distance Triathlons on 5 Hawaiian islands, finishing in under a week is only entered into by some of the most talented, hardest-training athletes in the world.
For Epic5 Challenge, each athlete has a crew chief and crew members who support them with navigation, nutrition, hydration and other support. In the background are exceptional staff members, who not only provide daily encouragement but solve any and all logistic issues that may arise.
Waves were crashing as we navigated the empty roads, running at a solid clip, in an attempt to make the challenge cutoff and allow the athlete to start their Ironman on the Big Island.
Pacing an athlete who is running their 4th marathon in 4 days gives you instant perspective on your own abilities. For months leading up to this event, I increased my own fitness, but I had not come close to the level of athleticism and grit it takes to get to this level. Although somewhat fatigued after a few days of pacing, my legs felt rather fresh and were re-energized every time I could see the monumental effort the athletes on course.
Weary after 4 days of inter-island travel, I made a hardy effort to keep athlete, crew and myself healthy through the use of therapeutic healing foods and hydration. Water is a crucial element to maintaining adequate hydration, as Hawaii’s hot and humid climate required more fluid intake than other athletic events, which may take place in colder and more arid environments.
Sprinkled along the Maui run route on Day 4 were crews, athletes, and staff, but as I ran with this particular athlete, we were going through water at a faster rate than anticipated. As Pacer, I kept a pace that would get us to the finish line, but in order to make cutoff, we’d have to keep running; no time for stops. With crew support behind and ahead, it was just me and the athlete for stretches along the course.
At 4 am on a sleepy Saturday morning, not many people were up, except fisherman who dotted the magnificent Kihei shoreline. Feeling a bit dehydrated and looking for water, I began to scan our options along the route. It wouldn’t be long before we hit the finish line, but beyond staying hydrated, keeping positive spirits, was of the utmost importance.
Making eye contact with a young boy, who was lifting fishing supplies out of his dad’s pick-up truck, I yelled “Water?” from about 50 yards away. Besides needing it myself, this athlete needed it to boost her way to making the course time cut-off. At this point, we were so close to the finish, it was more about the kind gesture of water and soulful energy than actual hydration.
Without hesitation, this young boy pulled two bottles of water out of his cooler, which we thankfully and quickly accepted. In addition to the grit, support and all else needed on the course, this simple gift of water boosted us towards making the cut-off. No matter how big or small, the simple act of giving can have a profound effect on someone’s journey and life experiences.
If you’d like to learn more about Epic5 Challenge – check it out here: