Welcome to Part 2 of Heidi's adventure with Epic5 Ultra Runners!
Molokai “The Friendly Island”
Of all the inter-islands flight we took during the event, flying from Oahu to Molokai is a clear standout for me. Taking off in a small plane from Makani Kai Air, immediately you take in the breathtaking aerial views of Honolulu and miles of gorgeous coastline. I had well-traveled the roads of southern Oahu for Epic5 Challenge Ultra Tri event six months prior, so this aerial view was a treat. Forever in my mind will be emblazoned mountains, waterfalls and fields that were visible from our seats.
True to its name, Molokai is known as the “Friendly Island” and for good reason. As we descended into the airport, bountiful fields of green welcomed us, and a rainbow brightly encompassed the airfield and land.
Grocery shopping presented a challenge, as I thought it may be, with two main grocery stores on the entire island (only open for one more hour, upon landing). Molokai is sparsely populated, with resident tally about 7,000. But let me tell you: it adds to the magic of Molokai. The residents are incredibly kind and the land is gentle. There is a quote, by Waipa Purdy:
“When you come to Molokai, don’t try to change Molokai. Molokai will change you.”
Out itinerary, in order to fit in each 50k, required us to travel in late afternoon/evening, so as soon as I took in the Molokai sunset, I headed to the grocery store. On a mission: find fresh supplies to make tomorrow’s meals. Two of my menu options included chia pudding and overnight oats, which both needed almond milk. Well… I found it, there were 3 cartons in the fridge! Lucky me, I got one and found a few other necessities.
Toting a Vitamix to every island, one of my intentions was to fresh-make smoothies on each island. This didn’t happen, as I thought may be the case, which is why I scouted out local smoothie shops (plus, this was a great way to engage with local shop owners!) Molokai was different as there wasn’t a smoothie shop available.
The next morning, when the runners took off at 6am for their 50k, I headed into town with Kawika, a coach for the Hawaii Running Project, also known as our “island guru”. As luck would have it, I stumbled into a weekly farmers’ market. Oh, the joy + excitement that filled my body!! Incredibly fresh supplies! I gathered smoothie basics: leafy greens, ginger, fresh turmeric root and cucumbers.
Whipping up the smoothies was no joke! Imagine an incredibly quiet island, with a few stores, but lots of remote land. In order to make them cold and refreshing, I found a way: visit local Molokai Airport, use an outdoor charger and get blending. [One of my favorite parts of my job is to insert creativity, whenever possible]
Greeting the finishers with these fresh island smoothies was a happy moment, as I got to explain where/how I sourced the ingredients and share even more of Molokai with them.
Next thing you knew, we were Maui-bound!
Maui “The Valley Isle”
After I returned from this trip, if you asked me to choose a course to run tomorrow, Maui would top the list. Mount Haleakala, standing tall at 10,023 feet took my breath away - figuratively + literally! The runners’ began their 50k by taking in the stunning sunrise and descending downward through lavender fields + evolving landscape. Chilly temps in the AM (38 degrees Fahrenheit) warmed significantly as we neared the bottom of the now-dormant volcano.
Greeting the runners’ with freshly-made smoothies from Sip Me Maui was the perfect ending to this marvelous day - and extra-refreshing as their last 5k included a steep uphill climb.
While at Sip Me Maui, I made sure to enjoy my own juice shot to keep my immune system healthy - choosing the “Hot Shot” - a cold-pressed concoction made with noni, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, cayenne, turmeric, ginger and Hawaiian chili pepper.
Next up.. Volcano time!
Kona “The Big Island”
I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Big Island a few times before this trip. When I’ve visited the Big Island, my adventures usually fall on the west coast - primarily centered around Kailua-Kona. For this adventure, we flew into Hilo on the opposite side of the island.
As much as I enjoy a hefty dose of sunshine, I felt immediately connected to this side of island, with it's cool, humid rainforest climate. My warm dish offerings were extra-appealing to the runners, who faced drizzling rain, winds and cool temperatures.
The 50k finish was atop Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, providing a dramatic, beautiful backdrop after a glorious adventure.
Since this was the final day of the event, afterward we got to enjoy a few days of downtime + relaxation on the island. I laced up my running shoes and headed out to run a few quiet, rain-filled miles of pure refreshment. I also got to enjoy a few slower-paced meals with my newfound friends and adventure runners. Until we meet again... ;-)