Haleakala National Park was spectacular. There are few other words that can describe it. The soft rock hues of pink, yellow and rust, occasional pockets of green foliage and clouds that cotton ball up against the outer crater opened my senses. I marveled that I was going to be running 26.2 miles in a volcanic crater.
To make the experience even more enjoyable I was joined by two friends for the entire marathon. Todd is a local of Maui and not only scouted the route by running it earlier in the year, he also helped me find an awesome vacation rental for the week.
I met Corey in Tucson. He wasn't able to run the marathon at Saguaro National Park when I was there but we ran together the day after with his running group. He said he wanted to join me at one of the remaining parks. He flew all the way from Tucson to join me at Haleakala. While he still has a day job I consider him a professional ultrarunner. He wins races. He's that good.
We experienced cold weather at the start, warm weather during and lots and lots of sunshine (worst sunburn I got at any park on the trip was at Haleakala). We spent most of the day in the crater admiring at the diversity of life. Some parts are dry and rocky others are green. We talked to a few nēnēs, an endangered Hawaiian goose, chatted about science fiction and had a great time over our seven and a half hour trip.
As I've said throughout my project the best time I've had running in a National Park was when friends could join me. This was no exception. Thanks to Todd and Corey for making National Park number 51, the last National Park outside of Alaska, very special. #runningtheparks