In 2018, XTERRA and OOFOS partnered to launch the ‘OOFOS Great Descents Series’. This recognizes a dedicated downhill section of XTERRA trail running courses to ‘highlight the benefit of recovery, which your legs will need after screaming down those hills.’
The 21K trail running course at Kualoa Ranch is home to the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, taking place on December 2, 2018. XTERRA points out that… ‘The trails through Kaaawa Valley and up the spine of Pu’u Ohulehule are truly world championship material. You will be tested not just on the climbs – one is affectionately named ‘The Death March’ – but also on the descents.
All told, the 21K demands course about 2800 feet of climbing. At the XTERRA Trail Run Worlds, the OOFOS Great Descent begins with a steep scramble down from the highest point of the race dubbed ‘Pualoa Pass’, which is about 700 feet above the starting line, towards the base of the valley below.
Just before mile 10, runners will begin the descent… ‘which is so steep and slippery that you will be glad there is a rope there to guide you. You might also need to cling to a tree or two as this part of the course is notoriously muddy after a good rain.’
The first 300 feet drop in elevation happens at a very steep grade, which some of the elites will take at an almost freefall pace, trusting in their training and their instincts to stay upright. As the race progresses, however, this downhill section can be a bit of a logjam as the mud gets kicked up and cautious runners slow down.
This steep slope is only a quarter of a mile long. By the time runners hit the 10.5 mile mark, they will be ‘stomping the mud off your shoes and onto a glorious and green downhill ride which will carry you all the way into the finish line.’
XTERRA adds that, here, runners can ‘relax your shoulders, take a deep breath and enjoy the sweet single track back into the Kaaawa Valley, where Kalei Waiwaiole’s voice will guide you into the finish chute.’
“It’s tough,” said last year’s third-place finisher, Teylar Adelsberger. “I read the course description and it talked about the ‘March of Death’, so there were multiple times when I thought, OK, I’m on it right now. And then I kept going and thought, maybe I’m on it right now? Then I got there and I was like, nope, this one’s it.”
Kualoa Ranch is normally closed to the public, so running the 21K course is ‘basically like a secret pass into paradise’, not to mention that athletes will be effectively running through several movie sets along their journey to the finish line. Jurassic Park, Windtalkers, Pearl Harbor, Godzilla, Tears of the Sun, 50 First Dates, and LOST were all filmed in the area.