The Hurt 100 race is excellently named.
It’s a 100-mile race through semi-tropical forest in the mountains of Hawaii, the terrain is pig-tracks that cross knots of tree roots, and the height gain of 7450 metres exceeds that of most of the planets highest peaks.
Vegan runner Yassine Diboun had completed it twice before (in 2014 and 2016) and was driven enough to return this year.
Among the runners there’s a sense of ‘Ohana’, or family, although this year something in particular was an enormous help to him.
The challenges of the non-stop race include sleep deprivation, mental fatigue and serious dehydration – Diboun took to plunging his head into streams during some of the 20 stream crossings.
Luckily a vegan past race winner was on hand to help with the last of these, as Diboun explains.
“Former HURT 100 winner Michael Arnstein who is a Fruitarian, who now lives in Oahu stays on the race course all night to give racers fresh coconut water to drink or eat straight from the coconut.
“He hauls hundreds of coconuts up there in his truck and then chops the top off and hands it to you to drink and eat. How about that!”
Arnstein was said to have hand-picked the coconuts himself by climbing the trees to provide the quality nutrition crucial to the athletes.
Diboun also fuelled himself with other vegan essentials.
He said: “During the run, I ate a lot of fruit (mostly watermelon, oranges, cantaloupe), Clif Nutrition pouches, Clif Blok shots, Spring Energy gels, Tailwind Nutrition, Trail Butter, and towards the end and through the night I was eating rice balls with salt, potatoes and noodle soup.”
It helped the 39-year-old into a good finishing position. 51 did not finish, and Yassine was sixth of the 78 who did. His time was 25 hours, 27 minutes and nine seconds.
The runs comes nine years after the American turned vegan after listening to podcasts by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (Compassionate Cooks) which debunked myths and started him thinking about ecology and animals.
He has since broken the record for the Wildwood Trail – both one way and out-and-back – and the supported team record for the 453-mile Oregon crossing.
After the second Hurt 100 he’s had time to recover and also to reflect. “I can safely say I’m not going to do that again,” he said.
“But, I also said that the first time.”