Defending husband and wife champions Penn Henderson and Rani Tanimoto were part of the race again this year. They had quite the cheering section with professional banners and all!
The race starts with the 1.5 K (.9 mile) swim in Keauhou Bay. This is one of the only races held down there, so it's a very different swim. At the pre-race meeting they mentioned that the swim course has depths of up to 125 feet! The other challenging part is that right about race time, the sun rises over Hualalai, creating some glare for the swimmers, but some beauty for the spectators.
First out of the water was Tim Marr, a professional triathlete from Oahu, followed closely by Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen.
Both Jason and I were interested to see how our relay swimmers would do coming out the water. This year, Jason had the same relay team as last year, with Leahi Camacho as the swimmer, Gary Shields as the biker, and obviously Jason running. I was with a new team from Bianelli's - Malia Santos did the swim and George Goldstine did the bike. We knew Leahi would come out of the water fast, and she did, coming out ninth in 23:22.
That was one of the hardest run courses I have ever encountered. After a brief start, you immediately start to climb Alii Drive - a hill I try to avoid as much as possible. It gets a little better after that with some downhill portions into the Pit/End of the World. But then it goes offroad onto a lava rock trail. Unsure footing is not my strong suit, so it was a little slower going through there. After that portion, it's onto the golf course for most of the rest of the run. Lots of little rolling hills up and down. And for some reason, the whole place feels like a sauna. Of course that could have something to do with the fact we're running at 9 a.m.! It was a hot, brutal course.
As mentioned about, a lot of locals were in the race, so there were tons of people to cheer for. Congrats to everyone who participated!