We return to Hawaii to escape the cold and to run the Kūlia Marathon.

Race Report: Kūlia

What a fantastic race. The views are beautiful and the first third of the course is not nearly as exposed as you might expect. The entire course is asphalt and this felt like a dream after our last race was entirely on concrete. The aid stations were very frequent, stocked reasonably and had real fruit at two stations. Gels are OK, but the actual food is so much nicer.

The 5,000 feet of descent is the main thing to consider. You’ll start the morning waiting around in 50℉ weather with a reasonable breeze. This doesn’t seem to bad until you finish the race in 80℉ weather with the sun baking you into oblivion. The temperature change is almost as important as the actual descent.

Kulia Marathon Course Profile

Kūlia Marathon Course Profile

Almost everyone blasted out of the gate, sure that a primarily downhill race would set their personal record. By mile 9 or 10 people were walking and even looking like they might drop from the race. For one, the race is not entirely downhill. I would guess it is 90-95% downhill with some flats and mild uphills mixed in. Second, unless you train for serious descent, you have a hard time understanding how smoked your legs are going to be from downhill running. The race results break the course into quarters and you can see how people’s pace falls through the floor as it progresses. We both took is easy and passed more than 80 people in the last 3/4s of the race. Pacing is key with this one.

Speaking of pacing, Annie ran negative splits the entire way. What an achievement. She left in me in the dust at about mile 23, storming down the hill toward the finish.

Another thing you might not expect is a strong wind. Apparently, it is par for the course. Luckily it will be primarily a tailwind or crosswind. The portion with a headwind was brief but uphill. The strong tailwind combined with the downhill does help drive you forward even when you are ready for a break.

A fantastic race that is apparently retired … for now. So glad we got a chance to run this one.


Race Website: https://www.runrevel.com/rkl

Approximate gain: 100 feet

Approximate descent: 5,351 feet

Annie's Finishing Time: 4:18:47

Scott's Finishing Time: 4:20:45

View all race results by clicking here.