Prepare for my chicken skin…Hawaiian lingo for our “goose bumps.”
Let’s go back to January 19, 2019. I was running the HURT 100 mile race on the Honolulu Mauka trails in Oahu.
BUT FIRST: a little background. I’m an avid runner. I started running at the age of 14 and have competed in hundreds of races since, including ultramarathons (a distance more than 26.2 miles). At that point, I had successfully completed two hundred mile races and dozens of ultras. And at that point, I had never DNFed (DID NOT FINISH) in any race I had ever run.
Back to HURT 100-miler. The course is known to be one of the most challenging courses…in the world. It is a 20-mile loop through the Hawaiian rain forests that runners have to run five times. The ground is littered with thick roots caked in thick mud, numerous water crossings, cliffs, and steep, rocky inclines. It is absolutely brutal.
I had traveled to the island with my good friend, Cassie. She came to help support my endeavor and pace me. Runners are allowed pacers on lap 4 and 5. After running alone through the majority of the night, I needed Cassie to run with me on lap 4. We started our lap around 3 or 4am. We walked most way of the way. I was pretty beaten up by the course by then. The sun started to rise and it felt as though I came back to life. I was determined to finish this race.
Sometime around sunrise (still on our 4th lap together), Cassie started to take photographs with her iPhone of me running through our breathtaking surroundings. I was groovin’ along and was almost to the end of our lap together with one lap remaining. I had to finish this race! About two miles away from the race hub and at the end of our 20-mile loop, I got a sharp pain in my right foot. Up to that point, I had rolled both of my ankles twice each, but the pain dulled after running on them and they didn’t hurt anymore. This pain was on the top of my foot. I readjusted my shoe and kept running with my pain dissipating. Then, BAM, I started to cry. And not like whimper, but I was wailing! I’m not a crier, so this struck me. I immediately told Cassie I wanted to drop out. This is a very rare occurrence as well. Again, I had never dropped from a race. She kept trying to convince me to stay in it and finish. But I kept wailing and pleading for her to let me drop. We got to the race hub and I sat down while a race official got my verbal consent to drop me from the race.
After the race, we went back to my AirBNB to shower, nap, and regroup. Cassie sent a bunch of photos from the race to her mom and our friends. As we were driving to dinner, I look out the window to notice how orange and red the moon looked. I Googled, “moon in Hawaii,” and it revealed that January 20th there was a Total Lunar Eclipse (aka. Blood Moon). I took notice, told Cass, and we proceeded on with our evening.
Okay, now here comes the creepy shit: after dinner, we drive back to our AirBNB and Cassie receives a text from her mom. It was about one of the photos Cassie had sent. It was a “live” (moving photo) that showed a dark figure dressed in a cloak moving past me while I was running. Now, I know my memory is quite shotty after the race and even while racing, but I did not remember passing a person on that strip of trail. Cassie didn’t either and she had her wits to her. The reason why no one was on that part of trail is because all runners had to run in a clockwise direction. And tourists weren’t out that early. We didn’t see anyone for hours while running together. So, we were—and still are—positive there was no one there.
Confused, we send the live photo to our group chat with our friends back home. One of them found something interesting. According to legend, there are ghosts of Hawaiian warriors that roam the island and they’re called, Nightmarchers. They are, “murderous shades, demons, revenants that haunt the island. They are the rabid galvanized specters of ancient Hawaiian fighters, heroes, and warriors.” Upon further research, we found out that, “ancient Hawaiian tenets assert that any mortal gazing upon or being viewed in defiance to the marchers will die horribly and violently. Some people declare that if the mortal lies still, down on the ground, prostrated to the marchers they are giving proper respect, fear, and reverence to the Nightmarchers; and they will be forgiven and spared.” Luckily, we did not see the supposed Nightmarcher.
As millennials, the next step was social media. We posted our photos and immediately received comments and messages. Mostly, people were creeped out. But then the Hawaiian people started to react and it was not good. Our simple and harmless request to figure out what was in our photo turned a little violent. We received messages calling us, “Haoles,” and that we were disrespecting Hawaiian culture. We even got threatening messages where people wanted us to meet a Nightmarcher so we would die a violent death. Less than 72 hours after posting our photos, we took them down. We were being accused of Photoshopping the image in or people were adamant that it was a druggie wondering up the trail.
To this day, we still don’t know what it was. We have the photos and the live photo as evidence to…something. One day I plan to go back to Oahu to complete the HURT 100 Miler. And to maybe bump into my old friend.