CrossFit Community Participates in the Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run, Raises $268,000 for Keala Foundation and Counting

September 27, 2020 by
Courtesy of Chris Spealler: (
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For the first time in seven years, the annual Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run (UHTR) allowed participants to race from their hometowns on Saturday, September 26.

  • 850 people from seven different countries tackled the Race — including three-time CrossFit Games podium finisher Pat Vellner and long-time Mayhem Freedom Games athlete Tasia Percevecz.
  • “My 2020 UHTR will be significantly less muddy and I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about that, but I’ll absolutely be running and donating from afar this weekend,” wrote three-time Games athlete Mekenzie Riley on Instagram.

Together, they helped raise $268,000.

  • “Just seeing the support and how much this event has touched lives, and how much people care about what we do, is amazing,” said Aaron Hoff, the founder of the charity race. “Especially considering we weren’t sure how we were going to run the event this year, so it was put together in less than 30 days.”

Remind me: Typically, the event is held on the island of Kauai and involves a 5 or 10 km trail run on difficult, very muddy terrain up Mount Kahili. However, due to the global pandemic, Hoff made the event virtual this year, where participants ran, biked or rowed any distance of their choosing.

  • All proceeds go to the Keala Foundation, a non-profit providing CrossFit, food, and transportation free of charge to the children of the island.
  • The ultimate goal is to use fitness to raise awareness and fight the drug and alcohol problem that plagues way too many youth in Hawaii.

One big thing: It’s not too late to either participate and donate. The goal is to raise $400,000, explained Sarah Braunsdorf, the executive director of the Keala Foundation.

  • “People are still out running,” said Braunsdorf, adding that some companies are hosting events in the upcoming days, including Power Money, a gymnastics coaching company, and Street Parking, a  programming company.
  • “Anyone can race and still donate,” she added.

CrossFit OG’s represent: The UHTR has captured the community’s heart since year one, and  continued to do so this year. Many well-known members of the community posted throwback pictures from past years, covered in mud from head to toe.

  • “Missing running for the keiki of Kauai this year,” Dan Bailey posted on Instagram, encouraging the community to donate.
  • “All the way back to the first Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run,” Chris Spealler posted.
  • “Sometimes you got to get more than just your hands dirty for a good cause,” added CrossFit filmmaker Heber Cannon.

Just the beginning: For Hoff, Saturday was just the start. He has a personal goal to raise $100,000. When he hits that target, he will walk 120 km around the island of Kauai, from Hanalei to CrossFit Kekaha. He expects to tackle the challenge sometime in November, he explained.

  • “Dan Bailey might come over and walk with me and a bunch of other people too. I’m expecting it to take two days. I’m a big dude. I’m 240 pounds (Running coach) Chris Hinshaw doesn’t think I’m going to make it,” he said, laughing.

More important for Hoff than his 120 km journey, however, is to continue to raise awareness about the island’s youth drug and alcohol problem because “every kid deserves a chance like I was given, no matter what the odds are that are stacked against them,” he said.

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