Portland's Yassine Diboun heard the warning of a missile attack -- and kept on running
Yassine Diboun knew Jan. 13 would be a long, challenging day.
The Portland man had twice completed the HURT 100, a 100-mile endurance race in the mountains above Honolulu, and knew the day would be hot and the night long.
What the 39-year-old ultra-marather could not have foreseen was a ballistic missile alert.
Diboun was about 13 miles into the race when he learned of the alert that turned out to be a false alarm. His wife, Erica, and daughter, Farah, were at the 20-mile aid station. So for seven miles he was running scared.
"That 7-mile stretch was pretty terrifying," Diboun says.
When he heard planes overhead he didn't know what to think.
"It was horrible."
By the time he reached the 20-mile station — completing the first of five loops that make up the 100-mile trail race — the all-clear had been sounded. Relieved, Diboun went on his way — eventually completing 100 grueling miles in 25 hours, 27 minutes and 9 seconds.
He placed sixth among 78 finishers (another 51 did not finish). He hoped for a better result. His time was significantly slower than in 2016, when he finished third in 22:39 and in 2014, when he placed fourth in 23:36.
"A race of that magnitude is so difficult and there are so many variables," he says. "I was just happy to finish it, really."
The roots and rocks along the trail were hazards, especially with the 85-percent humidity coating them with a "slime."
"I don't care how good of a runner you are, you're going to fall multiple times," Diboun says. "And I did. I fell many times."
Diboun is an accomplished runner who also coaches other distance runners as a co-founder of Wy'East Wolfpack training group. This HURT 100 was the 13th 100-miler he has completed.
He finished with black toenails and blistered feet, problems he says normally don't happen to him. There were the normal challenges — in-taking large amounts of caffeine and sugar to fight fatigue and sleep deprivation, the monotony of a course that repeats, staying cool and hydrated in tropical heat (he soaked his head in water when crossing streams).
And there was help from Portland runners Steven Mortinson and Travis Liles. Mortinson joined Diboun from mile 60 to 67. Liles, an accomplished ultra-marathoner, paced Diboun over the final 30 miles.
Diboun, who was passed by several runners in the later stages, wonders if he slowed later in the race because he pushed too hard during those seven miles of uncertainty.
Back in Portland, Diboun plans to take a couple of months off from training to let his body and mind recover. Upon his return, he spent some time with Jared Blank to discuss Blank's strategy for the World Marathon Challenge. Diboun says having the HURT 100 fresh in his mind will help him advise Blank.
Diboun says he will take some time to pick his next ultra challenge. He usually attempts to finish two per year.
Another HURT 100, though, will (probably) not be in his future.
"I can safely say I'm not going to do that again," he says. "But, I also said that the first time."