Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chasing the Lottery 5k Guest Recap

Thanks to John Ferdico for summarizing this year's Chasing the Lottery 5k:

This year the folks at Ironman decided to start the annual Big Island lottery drawing with a friendly little race, so last Saturday was the debut of the Chasing the Lottery 5K. Ironman recruited help from Dana and Jeff Strang of iWorkouts and Melissa and Jason Braswell of Big Island Running Company. They even convinced Jason to run in costume: he would get a thirty-second head start, and any runner who could catch him would win a prize. Since you can never have too many Ironman bags or water bottles, I figured I would join the fray.

Now, few people around here can beat Jason in a 5K even without giving him a head start, so I hoped this costume would be heavy, hot, and constricting. If it made him look utterly foolish, all the better.

The race began at the King Kamehameha Hotel amidst the cheerful chaos of the Kamehameha Regatta next door. It was a fine morning for racing, both on land and water.

Jason appeared in his costume, a white satin cape emblazoned with the Ironman M-dot logo. Contrary to my hopes he looked rather posh, and not at all slow.

Lottery Rabbit Jason
As he raced off on his 30-second head start, it appeared the cape might actually provide additional speed. Or maybe everyone just looks faster with a cape flowing behind them. In any case, he made the first turn and was completely out of sight when we were finally allowed to pursue.

Two Big Island Running Company training group regulars, James Resor and Brian Pruitt, darted off after their friend and rival. Fresh off a top-100 finish at Ironman Honu last week, Mike DeCarli tucked in behind them, and me behind Mike.

Emerging onto Kuakini after a series of twists and turns, an odd sight spread out before me: in the distance, three large, shirtless men chasing a guy in a flowing white cape. Only in Kona.

Out to the Old Airport, around the loop, and back again. Mike and I kept a 6:20 pace for the first two miles. Still, Jason appeared no closer than he had after the first turn. Clearly, there would be no bottles or bags for us.

Brian, on the other hand, caught Jason around mile two, with James was only a few seconds from doing the same. At that point, Jason tipped his cap to Brian, and settled into a race with James.
Overall Winner Brian Pruitt

It seemed Mike conceded we had little chance of catching the leaders, and let off the gas pedal just a little. Feeling like a sub-twenty minute finish was still a possibility, I held pace and soon glided past Mike. It was exhilarating. And then terrifying. I was in unfamiliar territory, and few have made a move on Mike DeCarli and held on to boast about it.

I would not be one of the few. It was like running in a nightmare, except it wasn't my imagination: I was indeed being chased. Returning to the twists and turns that signaled the last 500 meters of the race, I heard what a cavalry charge must sound like. That one man can evoke a hundred thundering battle horses is a testament to the ferocity of Mike DeCarli. He darted past, legs a blur. While humbling, I could not help but enjoy the sheer majesty of it.

Jason, in his dandy outfit, would also be humbled at the finish. James passed him to join Brian as the only two runners to beat the caped Ironman rabbit.   Now, there are rumors that Jason suffered a mysterious cramp just moments before finishing, hobbling as he relinquished his lead to James, then recovering miraculously. While I didn't see the finish, being a minute behind with troubles of my own, I am certain that the humiliation of running around town in a silly cape took a staggering toll on Jason's physical and emotional reserves.

James outsprinting the lottery rabbit to the finish
James won fair and square, and he would be rewarded for a great run. Perhaps Ironman didn't have any drawstring bags or water bottles handy, because they soon announced that Brian and James had each won a complimentary entry to the 2015 Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. They are bound for Honu. Jason and James can settle the controversy in a 70.3 mile rematch. Brian will have to learn to swim.

There were prizes for Mike and I, and for the first two female finishers as well. The Strangs donated a great iWorkouts package including a fitness evaluation, personal training session and yoga class. Wow! One went to DeCarli and another to the first female finisher, Susannah Roy. As if Mike can get any fitter.

Eve- Marie Quinton, the second female finisher, won a gift bag from the Big Island Running Company which included a running shirt, trucker hat, and water bottle. How do I know? Two reasons: the day before, Melissa called me at the store and asked me to put the gift bags together, and I won one too. Had I known, I would have thrown a few more really expensive things in there.

Honorable mention to young Cody Ranfranz. While Jason, Brian, James and I skipped Big Island Running Company's scheduled 6:30AM group run to save our legs for the race, Cody showed up and logged 6 or 7 miles, THEN ran down to the start line and raced the 5K. And still finished right behind me, 6th overall.

Cody Ranfranz
In all, 46 runners crossed the line, if you count William Mullahey, age one-and-a-half, who left the tough work to mom, Mary, before disembarking the stroller to cross the finish line in raised-arm glory. Results from the 5k are available here.

Youngest finisher William Mullahey

Then, the real winners were crowned. Following a delicious post-race buffet of breakfast burritos and malasadas, the local directors of Honu had the privilege of announcing the names of 24 Big Islanders who were chosen to participate in the 2014 Ironman World Championships.
2014 Lottery Winner Daniel Piccutta
2014 Lottery Winner Anita Leao
Happy Winner!
Congratulations to all the Kona athletes heading to the big stage in October, and to all the participants of the 5K race. It was racing with Aloha at its finest. Thanks to Ironman, iWorkouts, and Big Island Running Company for hosting a wonderful inaugural race. When word gets out about what you might win if you beat the caped Ironman, next year's Chasing the Lotttery 5K is sure to be the biggest race in town.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Captain Cook Challenge and Cinco de Mayo Swim 2014

Two weekends ago, Team Mango hosted the Captain Cook Challenge, one of the most challenging events on the island.  Then last weekend, the summer swim race series kicked off with the Cinco de Mayo Splash.  Since we didn't recap the Captain Cook Challenge last week, I'm combining both race recaps here!

Captain Cook Challenge

Carl Koomoa and his Team Mango races hosted this race for many years before being forced out of Kealakekua Bay last year, resulting in an alternate race - the Escape to Puuhonua.  Luckily, Carl received permission to use Kealakekua Bay again this year and the Captain Cook Challenge was back on.  The race starts on the south side of Kealakekua Bay with a 1-mile ocean swim across the bay to the Captain Cook Monument.  After leaving the water, runners climb the 2-mile hike up to Napoopoo Road, with approximately 1500 ft of elevation gain. From there it's on to the bike, heading out to the highway headed south before turning down past the City of Refuge, and up Napoopoo Road for one more loop. The bike course finishes at Kealakekua Bay again before runners head out on a hot and unshaded 4-mile run on the old beach road toward the National Park and back.  No leg of this event is easy! 

Two years ago I tackled the first two legs of this race before tagging off to Jason for the bike.  Then we both did the 4-mile run (guess who won that one?).  Jason had a scheduled rest day this year, so I recruited John Ferdico to do the bike leg for me again, with both of us running the last 4 mile run.

Even getting into the water provides quite a challenge.  After carefully climbing over the slick rocks, you have to time your entry perfectly so you don't get slammed back into the rocks by a big wave. Once in the water, though, it's surprisingly sandy and a good place to wait for the start.  Once the horn goes off, everyone takes off on different lines to the monument. I ended up staying pretty far out, while others took a route closer to shore.  Pretty early on, the bottom drops out and you can't see anything but blue. Unfortunately about halfway through the swim, we started getting hit with jellyfish.  Mainly just the little annoying and somewhat painful sea lice type, but I did manage to get whacked with something different on my neck and arm.  Let me tell you, that impact and pain took my breath away! Although there was water patrol out there on SUPs, there weren't many other options at this point than to finish on. I kept thinking that if I swam faster I would eventually get out of the stingers. Turns out that didn't really happen until I got out of the water, but all that adrenaline led to my fastest mile swim ever - approximately 30:30 (34:00 minutes officially with T1 time).

After taking too long in transition to collect myself, I started out on the first run.  For some reason I didn't remember this being as hard two years ago.  I ran for about 2-3 minutes before slowing down to a walk/climb.  I tried to push myself in less steep sections with better footing, but still wasn't able to run much at all. (Of course there were lots of photographers out there, so I had to pick it up to run everytime I saw one of them).  But I was never so happy to see the end of a run!

First runner up and eventual race winner Chris Gregory
Yes, that's how we all felt!
I tagged off to John for the bike and sat down to catch my breath and try to figure out what to do about this stinging pain on my neck (turned out ice helped pretty well for that one).  After watching all the runners come up the trail, we headed down to T3 to watch the bikers come in.

This race is relatively small, with only 21 individuals and 3 relay teams competing.  At the end of the first two legs, we were in 3rd place for the relays.  The eventual winning team had quite a lead with super masters swimmer Jim McCleery leading the way and getting about 12 minutes on me on the swim. So John had some work to do.  He did a great job, catching up to Dave Cobb to put us in second place.

Then it was off on the run. Compared to the first run, this was a piece of cake! Even though it was hot and sunny, at least it wasn't straight uphill and I felt like I could move my legs.  My goal was just to stay ahead of John off the head start I had while he was transitioning.  I got to the turnaround and was heading back when I saw he was the next person behind me.  But I still had some people to catch ahead of me.  Disclaimer, though - all of the people I was chasing had done the full race and didn't have a couple of hours to rest before this run.  I really had an unfair advantage.

At the end of the day, we finished in second place in the relays with an overall time of 3:35:01.  And I'm pretty sure John will never do that again:

Full results from the race are available here. Chris Gregory finished in first place with a time of 2:34:05, a new course record. Sylvia Ravaglia was the first (and only) woman to finish the course with a time of 3:09:48.  Congratulations to everyone who participated in this epic Big Island event.  More photos from the race are available here. Also, big mahalos to all of the volunteers! With three separate transition areas, this was a logistically difficult race that went off without a hitch because of them.

Cinco de Mayo Splash

Then last Saturday morning, swimmers (and wanna-be swimmers) gathered for the Cinco de Mayo Splash at Ana'ehoomalu Bay, the first race in the Triple Crown series of swims over the next month and a half.  Jason and I were excited for this race, since it was going to serve as a big showdown between us. Jason beat me in the races last year, but since then he's taken some time off from swimming, while I stayed at it consistently.  I was hopeful the results would bear that out!  Thanks to Nori Becker for taking all of the photos at this race for us.

Another tricky ocean entry for this one.  There was a coral reef that you basically had to belly flop over to get to the start line.  But it was a pretty great day for an ocean swim.  The water was calm, the sun wasn't too bright and the water was relatively clear.  Apparently several people saw honus and rays near the start of the swim. 

The course was pretty direct, just a straight shot out to the Ocean Sports boat, around it, and back in.  Not surprisingly, high school senior Leahi Camacho was the first out of the water by quite a margin.  Rumor has it she swam so fast because she needed to get ready for prom that evening.

Other fast swimmers started charging out of the water a little while later, with a mixture of youth and experience.

Many minutes later, I was heading in on the home stretch. I hadn't seen Jason since the start, but I thought it was safe bet that I was ahead of him.  Then I took a breath and looked to my right and who did I see?  No, not Jason, but John Ferdico instead.  I decided there was no way I was going to let him pass me, so I had to pick it up for the last 200 yards or so.  He hung on, though, and I managed to just beat him up the beach, both coming in just under 30 minutes.

Can't breathe ... but can't let John pass me!
Then we started looking around for Jason. He wasn't hanging out on the beach, but about a minute later we saw him come through the finish line.  Turns out he had his own battle with John's girlfriend Ali, beating her out of the water by just a few seconds, too. Although all of us were pretty far back in the pack, it was still a lot more fun to have that healthy competition.

And then it was on to the post-race fiesta.

Chips and salsa, fruit, donuts and cookies all on the beach afterwards - a pretty perfect post-race!  Then it was on to the awards, which were won by some seriously fast swimmers.  Full results are available here. More photos are available here. Congratulations to all of the swimmers and mahalo to all of the volunteers!

Coming up this weekend is Peaman's Polar Bear & Pinto Bean Biathlon, a 3/4 mile swim and 3.1 mile run starting at 8:08 am from the Kailua Pier.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

An Easter Weekend of Racing

Since I took a large portion of 2013 off of running and racing while I battled plantar fasciitis, it had been awhile since I'd been able to enjoy all of the fun local events as a participant.  I solved that problem last weekend by running two races in the span of 15 hours and then attending a third the next day.  It was great to be back again, but I was very happy to have a rest day after that!

On the afternoon of Good Friday, I drove over to Hilo to participate in the Emily Wedemann Memorial 5-miler.  Emily was a longtime supporter of the Big Island Road Runners and the running community on the east side of the island.  Her sons are also great assets to that community with Joe serving as race director for the new Hilo Triathlon while Bob serves as the race director for the Big Island International Marathon. Emily passed away a few years ago from cancer, so instead of an entry fee, the run collections donations to the American Cancer Society (almost $600!). 

(Photo by Big Island Road Runners)
The run started at Coconut Island, ran a loop around Liliuokalani Gardens, headed up the Suisan Bridge to Bayfront before turning back, running along Banyan Drive and out on Kalanianole Ave towards the port and back.

Tony O'Toole was the first men's finisher with a time of 34:28.  Harrison Bierman (34:40) and Patrick Baker (36:29) took second and third for the men. 

Women's Winner Emily Wallingford (Photo by Big Island Road Runners)
Emily Wallingford took first place for the ladies with a time of 36:55.  I followed in second place in 39:07, with Sarah Bidwell finishing third in 39:10.

Full results from the race are available here. Some additional photos of the race are below:

Happy finisher Jim (Photo by Big Island Road Runners)

Running in slippers (Photo by Big Island Road Runners)
Veronica Wedemann outpacing husband Joe to the finish (Photo by Big Island Road Runners)
Thanks to Big Island Road Runners for hosting this race! After the run was over, I drove back to Kona, grabbed a quick dinner and hopped in bed to be ready for the next race - the 33rd Annual Mac-a-thon 5k/10k in Honaunau.

Jason and I take turns attending this race because it's on a Saturday morning and conflicts with our training groups/store opening, but it's always one we fight over.  Several people I've talked to say this is their favorite race on the island.  The course is challenging (running the road from Honaunau to Kealakekua Bay and back), but the post-race festivities and local vibe are well worth it.

This race is full of perennial competitors - including race starter Teddy Ginn, who at age 81 is still going strong!

After his blessing, the 10k took off on the course.  Kris Keough from Kealakekua used his knowledge of the course to his advantage and beat out Nathanael Mole to take first place.  Big Island Running Company's John Ferdico was unable to hold off the women's winner Stacy Schlocker-Zurich, but held on to third place for the men.  After Stacy, second place went to Anna DeLeon and Nancy Kramer took third. Full results from the 10k are here.

Nancy Kramer
The 5k started 5 minutes after the 10k and went out with a bang - keiki charging ahead.  Of course, that lasted about 200 yards before they were gasping for air. At the front of the race, it was a battle between Tai Scarborough (pushing his son Lihau) and Joe Fairchild, with Joe surging ahead to finish in 18:41 to Tai's 19:03.  Third place overall went to Heather Scarborough in a time of 20:47.  Third place for the men was Carlos Uribe -Bounos in 21:47.  Erin Stephens (21:57) and I (23:02) were the next two finishers taking second and third for the women. Full results from the 5k are here.
The post-race festivities are what separate this race from others.  The biggest draw is the huge, delicious macadamia nut pancakes that they serve at the end.  While everyone is enjoying those at large picnic tables, a local band plays Hawaiian tunes.  A silent auction also has prizes from local vendors for people to browse and bid on.  After everyone talks story, it's time for the awards, which are some of the best around.  The top three in each age group receive carved stone medallions, while the overall winners win huge carved stones, sometimes quite a surprise and packing challenge for non-local winners.

Awards (Photo by Diane Quitiquit)

This year several friends won age groups awards, including:

Rick Rubio
Jon Kunitake

Ali Steiner
Lava People
If you missed it this year, definitely put this race on your calendar for next year!

Although this was the end of the weekend racing for me, several people did the Mac-a-thon/Carboman double, participating in Peaman's Carboman 10-mile Mosey, Roadrunner 3.5 mile Romp and Mighty Mouse Scamper on Easter Sunday morning.

Photo by Makena Becker
Although the fields were smaller because of Easter, the times were still fast. Luis De La Torre took first place in the 10-mile distance.  Karlyn Pipes was the first finisher in the 1-mile distance, followed by a close race between Alec Ankrum and Duke Becker:

Photo by Makena Becker
 Alec's dad, Adam, took first place in the 3.5 mile distance.

Photo by Makena Becker
Since it was Easter morning, there were a lot of families out being active together:

Photo by Makena Becker

Photo by Makena Becker
Photo by Makena Becker
 And of course Peaman was out there in his seasonally appropriate attire:

Photo by Makena Becker
Full results from the races are available here. Congratulations to everyone who participate in one (or more) of the races and events going on this past weekend. 

Tomorrow morning is the Captain Cook Challenge hosted by Team Mango.  The race starts with a 1-mile swim across Kealakekua Bay, followed by a 2-mile run/hike from the Captain Cook Monument to Napoopoo Road.  Next up is a 32-mile hilly bike ride, finished off with a 4-mile hot, hilly run.  Registrations are still being accepted today, but you need to be at the Rudy Project store on Alii Drive with your T1 bag by 7 p.m.!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lavaman Waikoloa 2014

I always enjoy going out to Lavaman Waikoloa to watch, cheer people on and take pictures.  Since this is one of the few races that I don't race or volunteer at, it's a nice change of pace.  All of the pictures are available here. One of the first things I noticed/remembered when I got to Waikoloa is what a big deal this race is.  Lots of people from the mainland come out for this event, especially Alaskans and the big Team in Training contingent.  So it really has a big race feel in our backyard. And Gerry Rott and her team of volunteers put on a first class-event.

One of the first things I saw when I walked in was Bree Wee taking a warm up jog with her main support crew, Mike. I think he gave her some great words of advice and encouragement as she finished the day in second place, behind Canadian Pro Magali Tisseyre .

After chatting with some friends, it was off to the beach to stake out my spot for the photos coming out of the swim.  This race has so many people it needs several wave starts, beginning with the pros and relays.

I think I must have missed some of the first people out of the water, but Luis De La Torre was one of the first competitors I caught:

Some of the top relay swimmers came out right around there, too, including Jim McCleery and Danny Becker:

Jim McCleery

Danny Becker
The steady stream of people coming out of the water lasted for almost an hour.  I think I must have done a good job cheering for the people I knew, since the couple standing next to me turned and said "You know EVERYONE out here!" And it kind of felt like that!

One of my favorite pictures of the day was the photo below of Lora Jorgensen and her dad John Barnett (on the left behind her).  Even though they started in different waves, they came out of the water at the same time, which had to be a neat experience!

After watching most of the swim, I headed up to the start of the run course.  As I was walking up there, I could see Luis running off into the distance and heard that Tim Marr was ahead of him.  Tim managed to hold him off for the win, with Luis taking second.  But I was able to catch a lot of the runners from then on. Here are some of my favorites:

Garrett Prinslow
Joseph Hodnette (left) returning to Kona after moving back to Chicago

Laura Dierenfield
Becky Prater completing her first triathlon.

Not a competitor, but she's got good form!
Unfortunately I wasn't able to stick around too long as I had to get back to Kona to open the Alii Drive store, so no finish line shots or post-race party this year.  But it was a great morning to spend time with friends, supporting the community and the sport.  Congratulations to all of the competitors!
Full results from the race are available here.