Tuesday, March 19

Postcards from Maui (guest post)

While I've covered quite a lot of ground, I haven't been everywhere. (Yet...) So, I've enlisted some help from local experts in the "Postcards" series of running travel guides.

Today, we're going to Maui!

Our running tour guide is DC native and runner, Tai Fung. Tai is a regular run-chatter on Twitter and has been giving me pointers about what to do when I move to DC later this year. In the meantime, he's going to take us on a tour of his favorite vacation destination: Maui. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip.

Belated greetings from Maui!

I appreciate Beth letting me guest post this tale of my time in Maui, along with my experience running it. I travel to Maui yearly (or have, over the past few years), and stay on the west side. Maui is kinda shaped like a sideways number 8, with the left/west circle a little smaller than the right/east one.

Fortunately, based on the amount I eat and drink while I'm there, there are plenty of things to do, activity wise, so those Mai-Tai calories can find a little outlet. And really, would a guy with my handle drink anything ELSE?
Tai's Mai-Tai
I'm usually in Kahana, Maui, which is not far from the former capital of Hawaii, pre-statehood, Lahaina ("La-hi-nah," which translates roughly as "cruel/relentless/unforgiving sun").  Arriving in Maui, my full-blooded Italian roots kick in, and I quickly tan up, but if you're of a more fair complexion, bring or buy sunscreen -- the waterproof kind!

You'll see lots of morning runners in West Maui, and waving to each other seems to be the custom (even in my home of Washington, DC, I usually flash the Hawaiian "hang loose" wave when passing runners, since, after all, wouldn't we all rather be in Hawaii?).

In the Kahana region of Maui, there are two primary roads of interest, known as the "upper" and "lower" roads.  The "upper" road, is just Highway 30, the Honoapiilan Highway. This is where you'll get a lot of good, uninterrupted mileage. But beware! It is HILLY, and you'll often have a wind either going or coming. But run against traffic, and you'll get an excellent run in. Scenery-wise, there isn't a LOT that you'll see, although at certain points along the road, you can stop and watch the ocean. Wait long enough, and you'll see (male) Humpback Whales breaching, slapping fins, or otherwise trying to find a lady whale to make "friends" with (I guess these whales haven't discovered Match.com). But the whales are only there in the winter, and if you're out running on the highway, you'll want to keep moving before you're baked to a crisp (you DID put on sunscreen for this run, didn't you??).

I snapped this picture after running along the upper highway, and then headed down to the beach to cool off.  That's not a camera trick.  That's just the biggest rainbow you've ever seen.
Maui Rainbow
The "lower" road is called the (wait for it!) LOWER Honoapiilani Highway(!).  This is a little more challenging for a hard run, but if you're looking for an easy, I'm-on-vacation run, you'll want to run here. You'll be with tons of runners doing slower paces (often because of walkers, driveways, etc), but you can see amazing views.  One of my favorite stops is Pohaku Park, nicknamed "S-turns" by the locals.  From here,  you can often see Green Sea Turtles swimming in the waves, and muching on the Limu (algae) on the rocks.
Beautiful views while on the run in Maui
As for beach running itself -- I advise against it.  Hawaii, at least Maui, is pretty rocky in places. You won't go as far as you think before you have to turn back, or move up to a road. On the plus side, walking the beaches is lovely as a post-run cooldown, because you can find amazing lava rocks. Here's one I found that formed a perfect little heart:
Heart-shaped lava rock
Bearing in mind the fate of Greg Brady, I threw it back after photographing it. Hawaiians take very seriously the removal of lava rocks from their home, and that a curse follows those who do. So don't, or be in deep doo-doo. Dig?

Sorry.  Anyway.

I have more pictures on my Instagram account, including a simulated picture of Steven Tyler (who I literally almost ran into in Lahaina).

Oh!  One thing before I finish up -- West Maui does have the lovely highway 30 for running great distances, but do NOT try and run in Lahaina, along their lower road, called "Front Street." It can't be done. Tourists abound. Kids. Cars. The odd homeless surfer who also happens to think he's Jesus Christ (really). Go there for a wonderful, memorable visit, but get your run in another time.

Finally, if you're really itching to race, check out the Maui Oceanfront Marathon, which features many different distances, and runs along some really lovely areas of West Maui, including Lahaina (when delusional surfers are shoo'd away).

Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or my own blog.

Aloha, and Mahalo to Beth for this opportunity!

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