I Am Aluminum Man!

aluminum-man-1Today, I did the Maui Aluminum Man at Kahekili Beach Park. The beach is named after the last king who ruled Maui and O`ahu for 45 years until 1794. King Kamehameha fought long and hard to defeat King Kahekili, who turned out to be his father (had to throw that in…makes it sound all native). Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been told “no timer, no T-shirt, no medals, no fee, just fun.” Fun and free sounded good to me. 

There may have been 45 people at the start. No registration, no packet pick-up, no race bibs, no timing chips, no body marking (but plenty of tattoos).  All participants, family and friends were asked to form a circle on the beach for a sort of spiritual-aloha-kumbaya thank you to the universe moment. Actually, it was kind of nice–made the event feel very local and home grown. Reminded me of the now defunct Redwood Trails organizers who used to ask a racer to sing the national anthem before every race.

Anyway, the start was very inauspicious. The organizers, a husband and wife team, also participated in the event. We were reminded once again to leave our egos on the beach. This event was purely for fun. We were led out from the beach where a fantastic reef begins just a few feet from the shore. I kind of wanted to look around at the marine life, but with an encouraging “OK, let’s go!” we were off. Some people were wearing snorkels, others chose to wear fins; I even noticed someone wearing webbed gloves, but anything goes, brah.

This was my first time racing in the ocean without a wetsuit. I don’t know what I was thinking even bringing it. I would have looked like a complete fool. But I couldn’t believe how much harder it is to swim without it. I finished near the back of the pack completely “pao” but I knew I would make up time on the beach (not that I was racing or anything). When I stepped onto the beach, my wife and kids were standing there to greet me. I was so surprised to see they had walked a half mile from the start, I didn’t know what to do but managed an exhausted pose for the camera.

The beach run was seven lengths of the distance we had just swam. They said it was 3.5 miles, but it was much harder than it looked. The sand was soft, it was already 80 degrees, nobody bothered wearing shoes, and the tide was coming in, leaving little room to run in some places. Ah, but where else in the world would I ever run a race barefoot?
aluminum-man-2I estimated 1/3 of everyone who started didn’t finish the event, pulling out at different places. I have no idea where I finished in the standings. There was nobody taking times at the finish since the race directors were also racing. I clocked myself at 54 minutes and change, including all the times I stopped to pose as Aluminum Man for my kids to take my picture.

If you are ever in the Hawaiian Islands, don’t miss this one. These events are held about seven times a year on different islands. Some include a bike; this is the only one with a beach run. Every once in a great while I go for a run just for the pure enjoyment of running. You will find Aluminum Man is a celebration of life.

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