Profiling HURT | Ultrarunning Video Review

Success in paradise doesn’t come easy

Hurt 100 course is known for having lots of roots

The HURT 100 is a very difficult 100-mile trail race in the Honolulu Mauka Trail System, on 99% single-track trails in a tropical rainforest, on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. Known for being an extremely challenging race with 25,000 feet of both climbing and descending in a thick, root-covered trail system, the finisher rate has yet to achieve anything close to 50% – meaning, significantly more than half of the people who attempt the HURT 100 each year fail to complete the 100 mile distance in the allotted 36 hours.

Profiling Hurt is a movie by filmmaker Barry Walton, and follows ultrarunners Mark Gilligan and Scott Guild through the stages of mental and physical preparation, race day logistics, and the overall experiences that come with a rugged, 100 mile trail race like the Hurt 100.

A window into what it takes

Sunrise at HURT 100

The movie begins with the ceremonial start to the 100-mile race, read in both English and traditional Hawaiian languages, giving an authenticity to the movie right off the bat; however, having lived in Hawaii and aware of the awesome nature of the trails, as the film progressed, I found myself yearning for even more visual examples of the HURT 100 race and cultural experience.

Being aware of both Mark and Scott, the athletes starring in the film, I really enjoyed getting to know them better through examples of their training methods, running philosophies and approach to the sport. At first, I thought the fact that Mark was injured throughout training, and participation in the race, detracted from the film leaving an almost expected outcome to his HURT experience; but after reviewing the movie a couple of times, I found myself relating to many of the obstacles he was working to overcome so as to make it to the starting line on race day.

The film bounces around a lot, with a lot of static interviewing, sometimes leaving a subject just as it was starting to get good. One example comes early as the film introduces runner Mike Muench, climbing a steep, root-covered section at mile 17. Mike is providing insight as to race strategy, combined with great visuals of the trail, and just as the viewer begins to connect with the runner, with the movie transitions back to static interviewing, where trail description is told from the comfort of a leather easy chair.

As a participant and fan of the sport, I find “in the trenches” interviewing and visuals far more compelling, exciting and interesting; and while I understand the need for static interviewing as a form of narration, I feel there was a bit too much in Profiling HURT.

Superstars and ultra-brain

Throughout the film, we meet some of Ultrarunning’s greats like Cindy Goh, Dot Helling, and HURT legends such as Alex Papadopoulos. This was great, and adding these snippets of race strategy, approach and focus made for interesting additions to the film.

As the movie takes viewers into some of the later miles of the HURT 100 experience, we begin to see ultra-brain set in on the various runners being interviewed, and as always this is both inspiring, and entertaining.

But, then comes the ending.

Oh, the ending.

I pride myself on the honesty of my reviews, so I have to keep it real when I express that I strongly believe the film should have ended differently. How? I don’t know. You watch it and see if you don’t feel the same way.

It left me feeling flat and wanting more.

Summing it up in lists

People like lists. It’s easier to read and the information more succinct, so here ya go:

What I loved about Profiling HURT:

  1. Learning more about the athletes starring in the film
  2. Learning more about the HURT 100 race
  3. As an ultraunner myself, experiencing someone else’s pre-race training and strategy
  4. It’s ultrarunning! …so, of course that alone is enough to like
  5. The editing style, music, and unique transitions are nice

Where I see there could be improvement:

  1. I would have liked to have seen more race coverage, more on-trail interviewing; and less static and aid station interviewing
  2. I believe the film would benefit from a bit more coloring of Hawaiian culture and perhaps even some authentic Hawaiian music to bring the viewer closer to the experience of racing in Hawaii
  3. The film is very short, and I felt it ended too soon and with little climax

The verdict

I enjoyed watching Profiling HURT.

I love the sport of ultrarunning, and the film does a good job of  showing audiences the mental and physical drama athletes go through during training, strategy development and on race day. At ~30 minutes long, the film is an easy, short watch, …but, perhaps too short.

Viewers learn a lot about the HURT 100 trail race, some of its participants, and what it takes to show up on race day ready to tackle 100 miles of mud, roots, and hills in paradise.

To check out the movie trailer and order the DVD, visit

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