Waking up 2:30am the first day of the inaugural Epic5 Ultra Run Challenge, I was greeted by my ohana Lisa, who graciously offered me a cup of island coffee (as she also did six months earlier for Epic5 Ultra Tri Challenge!). It was time to get into high gear. This was it! For months leading up to this day, I created + tested menu items, packaging, food temperatures and researched local smoothie shops on Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui + the Big Island. What was this foodie adventure all about? Fueling ultra-runners before they embarked on a challenging 50k course through 5 Hawaiian Islands in 5 days. Okay.. let’s get to the details!
These were my guiding food principles for menu offerings. Epic5 has a beautiful history with the Hawaiian islands, showcasing its beauty, with swim, run, and bike courses that weave through beautiful countryside and landscape. In keeping within this spirit, one of my priorities was to highlight local companies and people that embrace the beautiful Hawaiian culture. In my island-by-island report, you’ll find health-driven, kind-hearted, generous vendors, whom maybe you can visit on your next trip to Hawaii!
What was my nutritional role?
Providing meals + beverages pre-event and smoothies post-event. As you can imagine, added challenges of navigating new kitchens, grocery stores and a packed schedule of events required creativity, resourcefulness + adaptability, which I embraced wholeheartedly. We flew on small planes and carried medium-sized duffle-bags, in which I packed a combination of my superfood powders, spices and clothing. It was a unique and invigorating experience [fueled in part by delicious locally-sourced coffee!]. On to the majestic islands…
Kauai felt like my second home as soon as I arrived for the first time last September. This is mainly due my incredibly sweet, generous host who has become like a sister to me: Lisa Ledesma. She and her husband have been involved in Epic5 adventures since the beginning (2010) and the two times I have visited, they have embraced me as family, shown me local spots, taken me SUP (and didn’t laugh when I fell off my board into the Wailua River) and even arranged my 10-year marriage vow renewal ceremony. To sum it up - both of these people are amazing, kind-hearted generous individuals.
Kauai hosts the first 50k of the Ultra Run Challenge and runners began their quest aside Hanalei Pier. We began each day slightly before sunrise, so soon after the run start, the day began to lighten, sun rising high above and I counted my blessings I could be a part of this unique event.
From farm to table, with smoothies which include incredibly fresh ingredients, Hanalei Taro was my first choice to replenish runners post 50k. [Because of food prep/timing challenges, except for Molokai which I blended smoothies (with a traveling Vitamix!) at Molokai Airport, I identified 3 smoothie spots on each island near finish line to have smoothies ready to go.]
Recent devastating floods have deeply affected Hanalei, so I’ve included a link below for donations aimed at rebuilding and supporting individuals who lost homes.
Waikiki Beach often to comes to mind when US mainlanders think about Oahu, so given the run course began in the North Shore, famous for big wave surfing and a slower pace, this exposed me to a whole different part of the island.
Laid-back, rustic and beautiful. Those three words are just the beginning of the North Shore. Runners climbed up the gorgeous mountainside and finished their run through Kaena Point State Park, the westernmost tip of land on the island of Oahu.
Part of the excitement of Epic5 events is the inter-island travel and logistics to make flights, pick up food, and empty coolers before boarding planes. Because I had done my research ahead of time, I had identified 3 stellar smoothie shops, settling on Brew + Foam (because.. Wait until you see their menu!)
Keeping the smoothies cold until runner hand off was a challenge, as they ended the run at a different spot where I was stationed and I needed to also get to the airport for car drop off. Somehow we would have to meet about the same time - tricky in an airport, based in bustling Honolulu.
Serendipitously, I was able to greet the runners and staff as they were unloading luggage at airport drop. Happily, I gave them their icy-cold fruity smoothies. And we were off!
Next, up Molokai, Maui + the Big Island! Stay tuned for Part 2!