I don't tend to post much about individual runs unless it's a race. Every now and then a run is just so awesome it's good to relive it. My Diamond Head run is one of those. It may just be the fact I'm on an overseas holiday in Hawaii that I really enjoyed this run. There may also be a few other reasons.
After a few recommendations to head east out of Waikiki and do the Diamond Head walk into the volcanic crater, I thought this could make a for good run. Scanning the travel forums showed up plenty of non-runners saying you shouldn't run it. Main reasons seems to be it is hot and it is steep. Sounded like good reasons to run to me. Runners on the forums seemed to agree.
Waking with the sun I wasn't having any trouble with the time zone changes. Probably an advantage of shift work. The ball of fire in the sky already had a bit of kick to it. I do love summer. Plenty of people were out nice and early. A change from the quiet streets at home in the morning.
Having the map of where I needed to go stored in my head I started out in confidence. That confidence was a little misplaced as I ended on a different road than I intended. The misdirection worked out well. I found myself running along what can best be described as an esplanade along the beachfront. Plenty of people out walking, surfing, cycling and running. Many of the runners were quite social and happily greeted each other beyond the basic micro-nod. I dropped a "g'day" which started a conversation with a group of runners. Turns out these runners were a mix of locals and regulars here. Also turns out they were running out to Diamond Head. Naturally I joined them.
We followed the coast line which was not the route I had pre-mapped. Looks like we were heading around via the other side of the crater. I asked which way they were going and was answered with a big smile, "the long way." Sounded good to me. The road climbed very gently around the bottom of the crater. To my right was a beautiful seaside view. On my left I had to strain my neck to see up to where I was headed.
Eventually we turned off the coastal road. The immediate surrounds weren't so pretty, looking a little run down and unkempt. This was more than made up by the views across some of hills of the island. A few minutes later we arrived at the entrance way to the Diamond Head Crater. Here I discovered the group wasn't running to the top, they were running a loop around bottom instead. So we said our goodbyes and I headed up. The road here was a little steeper but the road at the of my court back home was worse. One of the group had decided to join me and he was working pretty hard on the incline.
The road levelled out and went through a tunnel. On the other side we were now inside the crater. That's I concept I thought was pretty cool. Next was the car and bus parking, a small kiosk and entry box. Being on foot it cost $1 to enter the park. My enthusiastic hello was contrasted by the lack od enthusiasm from the ticket seller. The other runner just laughed at us.
Then it's up the trail proper. It begins as a smooth paved pathway but soon gives way to uneven rock with a few sections of stairs. It's clearly steeper than anything in the lead up, but it's nowhere near crazy. It fits in right in the bracket of good fun hill running. Still very runnable, but steep enough to make you work and point out if you've been neglecting the hill work. The challenge likely comes from the distance. Seems to be a good 1.5km worth of going up. However, this gets broken up by a few walking bits waiting for suitable places to pass the many walkers.
Early on my runner friend asked "are you really gonna run all the way?" That was the point of coming out here and I definitely was going to try. He decided to walk and said he'll probably see me on the way back down. I didn't see him again. Maybe he knew something I didn't.
Up and up, bouncing over the small dips and ridges that made the trail. At points I was greeted with awesome views of various parts of the island. The stairs could've caused some pain if I had a clear run, but plenty of walkers made for gentler ascent. Once at the top view is a panoramic spectacle. Well worth the trip up. After absorbing everything for a minute it was time to head down.
This was definitely my favourite part of the run. The downhill was a perfect mix. The gradient was great to open up and push the speed. The uneven footing required a quick cadence, good technique and concentration. Being courteous to the others on the trail meant some quick stops, sharp turns and creative use of the side slope. Overall it some fast movement back down.
Feeling like only a couple of minutes had passed I found myself heading back through the tunnel that marked the entrance to the crater. Back onto the road and I headed back towards my hotel. This time I followed the route I had originally planned. It was all a mild downhill so the again the pace was naturally up, but feeling easy.
Soon enough I was back on the esplanade and saw where I missed my turn. I must've been looking out to the beach at the time. I cruised the final but back, weaving around the busier area amongst the shops. Then it was over. Turns out I covered a little over 17km. It's a good feeling having the fitness just to run that sort of distance on whim and enjoy it all. Not a bad way to meet some locals and do a little sight seeing.