Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Jingle Bell Run

Sunday was a great Christmas event in Kona - the 5th Annual Jingle Bell Run. Hosted by Rani "The Roadrunner" Tanimoto and Gene "The Turtle" Powers, the 5k and 1 mile races ran along Alii Drive and was attended by over 200 holiday revelers, who were encouraged to dress in festive holiday gear.

Similar to many other events in Kona, there was no entry fee, but participants were encouraged to make a donation to the organization that the race benefits with its special recognition award. This year, that group was PATH (People's Advocacy for Trails Hawaii), which helps create a safe atmosphere on the Big Island for all runners, walkers, bikers and other pedestrians.

2009 Jingle Bell Run (Photos by Jim Tilley)

The men's race was extremely close, with Luis De La Torre beating Dan Olmstead by 2 seconds for the win (16:38 and 16:40, respectively). The women's race was won in 18:50 by Breanna Strenk, followed by Nicole Crawford in 20:04. The top ten men's and women's finishers won Kona coffee donated by Jon Kunitake and Kunitake Farms.

Rani Tanimoto announces the award winners (Photo by Jim Tilley)

The 1-mile event was won by keiki Ziggy Bartholomy with a fast time of 6:36 and the first keiki female finisher was Alice Shepherd in 8:03. The top five male and female finishers of the mile event won awards donated from local businesses. Full race results are available here: http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/articles/2009/12/21/sports/local_sports/sports01.txt.

As mentioned above, participants were encouraged to wear holiday attire, with the top costumes winning awards. There were several great outfits to choose from!

And if all those awards weren't enough, there were also raffle drawings with giveaways donated from local businesses again, including Healing Island Massage, Fairwinds snorkel cruises, Royal Kona Resort, Big Island Grill and several others. Unfortunately we weren't lucky enough to win anything in the raffle this time around, but since I won something at the Wobble & Gobble I can't really complain.

By this point, the weather had turned from another lovely Kona morning to a threatening downpour, including a waterspout over the ocean.

Waterspout in Kona (Photo by Jim Tilley)

Unfortunately things had to get wrapped up pretty quickly, but all in all it was a great way to celebrate the holidays. Thanks to Rani and Gene for putting on such a great holiday event! And thanks to Ray and Michelle Whitford and Jim Tilley for providing some photos of the race!

Up next is Peaman's Birthday Bash next Sunday morning. I get to be the guinea pig and try out our first ever swim/run duathlon. Should be interesting!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hilo to Volcano Ultra Marathon

The beginning of 2010 brings an exciting running event to the Hilo side of the Big Island. For those hearty runners who are looking to go a little longer than your typical 5K, the Big Island Road Runners present the Hilo to Volcano 31 mile (50K) Ultra Marathon and Relay on January 23, 2010. At 6 a.m., individual runners completing the entire distance will depart from Coconut Island in Hilo. At 6:30 a.m., the relay participants will start at the same location. The runners will travel from Coconut Island to the Cooper Center in Volcano. Each relay team will consist of 3 runners and all runners must provide their own support vehicles. Additional questions can be directed to Gregory Lum Ho at 808-987-5224.

The cost for the race is $30 and entries must be postmarked by January 8, 2010. Click here to download the entry form for the event: http://bigislandrunningcompany.com/Big_Island_Running_Company/Calendar_files/Hilo%20Volcano%20entry%20form.pdf. Entry forms can also be picked up and dropped off at the Big Island Running Company in Kona prior to January 8, 2010.

Good luck to all participants!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Whales Have Arrived in Kona!

This morning, after completing our group run, we saw our first whale of the season. Melissa saw a spout and we both got a really good view of a full tail. We were standing right outside the store, and the whale was over by the Royal Kona. I think he must have been checking out the Ironman swim course. No pictures of this one, but we'll get to work on getting some good whale photos to post.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

2009 Ultraman World Championships

One additional event occurred over Thanksgiving weekend that we haven't been able to give justice to yet. Instead of feasting on a massive Thanksgiving dinner spread, 37 triathletes and one relay team prepared to embark on a journey that makes the Ironman seem tame by comparison. The 2009 Ultraman World Championships began on Friday, November 27 and over three days took the competitors on a 320-mile tour of the Big Island.

Entrance into the Ultraman World Championships is by invitation only, with over 50% having participated in a prior Ultraman competition. Many of those individuals represented foreign nations, with participants coming from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Australia, Slovenia, Ireland, Switzerland, and the US. Unlike in Ironman, Ultraman competitors are allowed to have crew members helping them out on their journey. A paddler accompanies the Ultraman through the swim portion and the crew follows in a van for the bike and run portions, carrying fuel, extra tires and other gear that might be needed.

Before the sun even came over the mountains the day after Thanksgiving, the Ultraman participants were preparing for a 6.2 mile swim from Kailua Pier to Keauhou Bay.

About 2.5 hours later, the leaders began to arrive at Keauhou Bay for their transition from the swim to the first portion of the bike course. Up next was a 90-mile bike ride from Keauhou to Volcano, with over 7,500 feet of climbing. According to reports, this segment of the competition was brutal, with a stiff headwind leading to a major increase in times compared to prior years. Several participants barely slid under the day's cut-off time.

The competitors then were able to get a rest and some fuel before tacking Saturday's 171.4 mile bike ride from Volcano to Hawi, passing through Hilo, Waimea and parts of the Kohala range. Based on comments from the participants, conditions were more favorable for this portion of the ride, so aside from being a long ride, it wasn't nearly as strenuous as the previous day's ride.

After sleeping in Hawi for the night, the competitors were ready for the 52.4 mile run (a double marathon!) from Hawi through the lava fields to Old Airport in Kona.

Miro Kregar was the first Ultraman to reach the finish line with a run time of 6:20:07 - an amazing time for such a distance.

Miro had started the day in second place and needed to beat Alexandre Ribeiro by approximately 40 minutes in the run portion to win the competition. So all Miro had left to do was wait and see how long it took Ribeiro to finish the run course.

Ribeiro crossed the line approximately ten minutes later to claim the Ultraman victory, 22:10:22 to 22:39:14.

On the women's side, Shanna Armstrong finished first with a time of 25:48:46, only the second woman ever to finish under 26 hours. In addition, Ann Heaslett broke the run course record by 35 minutes with a time of 7:12:07.

The next day, the oldest Ultraman finisher, Ellis Andrews stopped by the store to say hello, accompanied by his crew. He was moving amazingly well for someone who had just completed such a taxing event. And he was all smiles as he talked about the experience, which is less about competition and more about aloha (love), ohana (family), and kokua (help).

Congratulations to all of the finishers, including those who stopped by the store from time to time - Ellis, Sheena, and Suzy! Ultraman was an amazing event to witness!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Mizunos Arrive at the Big Island Running Co.!

While December has brought snow, sleet, and freezing temperatures to many of our friends back in the mainland, it has brought a much nicer gift to us in Kona: several new models of Mizuno running shoes! (Rumor has it that the new Mizunos are out in the mainland as well.) The new Mizuno models that have arrived are each updates to their popular predecessors and continue Mizuno's tradition of providing high-performance running footwear in a lightweight, comfortable package. IMHO, they look pretty cool too, which never hurts.

First up is the new Wave Creation 11 (both men's and women's models are pictured). The Wave Creation 11 ($134.95) is the latest and greatest edition of Mizuno's top-of-the-line neutral cushioned trainers. The Creation features Mizuno's Infinity Wave Plate, which gives the shoe its trademark cushioning and heel-to-toe transition.

The primary modifications of the Wave Creation 11 (versus the Wave Creation 10) are a 7% weight reduction, a softening of the heel cushioning, and an improved midsole material, which Mizuno touts as having "inreased rebound and a 'bouncier feeling.'"

The Wave Creation 11's upper also sports several new features designed to improve its fit, including a new eyelet design and heel collar.

The Wave Creation 11 is an ideal choice for a runner with a neutral foot who likes a lot of cushion.

For the neutral runner who doesn't like quite as much cushion as the Creation offers and is looking for a lighter, more responsive shoe, the Wave Rider 13 ($99.95) is an excellent choice.

Wave Rider has long been a popular shoe among runners looking for a trainer that "feels faster" and the new 13s will definitely continue to fill that need.

The changes to the Wave Rider 13 are minor, and that's a good thing. The changes are primarily to the upper, where some minor tweaks have been made to improve fit.

There has also been a slight reduction in weight for the Wave Rider 13 versus the Rider 12, which is really remarkable in a shoe that a lot of runners were already gravitating to for its light weight.

In short, a great shoe has stayed great. Rider fans rejoice.

So far, we've spent all of our time talking about shoes for our neutral-footed friends, but we've also got a new Mizuno offering for those of you who need a little support when you run. The Wave Inspire 6 ($99.95) is Mizuno's latest version of its very popular support trainer.

The Wave Inspire is one of the Big Island Running Company's bestsellers, and this latest model has what it needs to keep this trend going. Runners flock to the Inspire because it is able to provide support, but do so in a lightweight package that feels faster than many of its competitors. I'm happy to report that the Wave Inspire 6 will continue to offer its lightweight support, checking in just a shade lighter than its predecessors.

Much like the Rider, the changes to the Wave Inspire 6 were minor and focused primarily on tweaks to the upper to improve fit and comfort.

I predict that the Wave Inspire 6 will continue to be a top seller at the Big Island Running Company.

Working at the running store, I commonly hear people complain that shoe companies update models too quickly and have taken their favorite shoe and updated to a new model they don't care for any more. Sometimes I think these complaints are valid; sometimes not. I don't expect to hear many complaints about these new Mizuno updates though. These updates are exactly what they should be: minor updates to tweak shoes that were already very good shoes. (But if you are going to complain about the updates, hurry in because we've still got scattered sizes of your beloved prior models.)

Look for more Mizuno updates in January, with the new Wave Nirvana 6 on its way to Kona!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Very Fast Visitors to Big Island Running Company!

Being in Kona, we get to meet and talk story with a lot of elite triathletes, which is always a good time, but it is a rare treat when we are fortunate enough to run into an elite runner. Imagine our surprise when we bumped into one of the top American distance runners visiting our little corner of paradise!

As we mentioned in our post yesterday, Thursday morning started off with the Wobble & Gobble race on Walua Trail. The race attracted many residents as well as several visitors to the Kona area. Prior to the race, we were talking to a very nice woman from Oregon, who was vacationing in Kona with her husband and his family. Imagine our surprise when she turned out to be professional runner Lauren Fleshman, with her husband Jesse Thomas! Both Jesse and Lauren attended Stanford where Lauren was a 15-time All-American and 3-time 5K national champion and Jesse was the 2001 Pac-10 Steeplechase Champion.

Lauren was nursing some injuries, so she did not compete in the Wobble & Gobble, however, she assisted at the finish line and helped pass out medals to the keiki. Jesse competed and set the course record. After the race, they stopped by the Big Island Running Company for some pictures.

Congrats to Jesse on his win and best of luck to Lauren and Jesse in their upcoming training and races!