Participants get their choice of torture; you can run it (or walk, which is sometimes faster) or bike it. According to my Garmin, the bottom of Kaloko is at just over 1,500 feet elevation and zigzags 6.5 miles up to just over 4,500 feet. I think the average gradient is somewhere around 15 percent.
From the start of the race, the very first step, your lungs are burning, your legs are burning and you'd swear the air is so thin that the elevation must be more like 10,000 feet. Your heart rate sky rockets from the start and never settles down until you reach the finish. It's a 100 percent effort all the way to the top no matter how slow you chose to go. Walking provides no relief. Only stopping gives your body the relief it screams for, but where's the fun in that.
It’s hard to explain how steep Kaloko is. Even pictures don’t do it justice. Sort of like watching the Tour de France race through the Alps and hearing the commentators describe it, but you just can’t comprehend it unless you’ve been there.
All I can say about how steep Kaloko is is that Lance Armstrong once said there’s nothing as steep as Kaloko on the Tour.
Here's my stats from Sunday's race:
The top yellow zigzag line is the map of Kaloko winding it’s way up Hualalai Volcano.
The gray line is the elevation gain of Kaloko. As you can see it’s a pretty steady climb. And the red line is my heart rate.
Although pictures can’t really do Kaloko justice, here’s one Karen snapped off about half way up.
OK, that’s a little camera magic. It’s not really that steep but when you run or ride it it feels that steep.
If you ever get a chance to run or ride up Kaloko give it a try. Just remember, once you make it to the top, you still have to survive the descent ... Good luck!
Here's a few photos Karen took from race day.
Just one long hill.
Sometimes running is faster than riding.
A rider playing "paper boy." This hill reduces you to having to have to zigzag back and forth across the road like a paper delivery person just so you won't fall over.