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.

Big Island International Marathon 2014

2014 was a year of changes for the Big Island International Marathon, as well as some weather-related challenges!  The weekend kicked off on Saturday morning with the Health and Fitness Expo at the Hilo Hawaiian Moku Ola Ballroom.  The big topic of conversation was what the weather would be like for the race.  With wind warnings and rain projected, everyone was stocking up on hats and Bodyglide.  Too bad we don't sell Run Big ponchos, because those might have sold out!

Photo by Marie Kuramoto

Later that evening after the vendors packed up from the expo, the ballroom was converted to the pre-race Carbo-Load dinner. In addition to the pasta selection, attendees were treated to a great hula show and random prize drawings.  Some of the prizes were Bioastin swag bags courtesy of emcee Eddie O and Big Island Running Company gear. 

At the dinner, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Michael Georgi, a Big Island International Marathon VIP.  He's won the race several times and finished this year's marathon in 3:32:13, winning the 60-64 age group and coming in 14th overall.  It was great listening to the stories of all the different races he's done. And he achieved his goal of setting the new course record for the 60-64 age group.

Me and Michael Georgi (Photo by Marie Kuramoto)

As we left the Carbo-Load dinner, we could hear the wind whistling off the ocean.  Runners staying at the Hilo Hawaiian might have lost some sleep listening to it rattle the windows all night long.  When it was time for the races to start, the wind was still blowing at Bayfront, but the rain had subsided for a time.  This year, race director Bob Wedemann adjusted the courses so that all runners started from Bayfront instead of shuttling people out to a start in Pepeeko.  The course ran north on the highway before venturing off onto the Old Scenic Road, with separate turnarounds for the half and full marathon.  There was also a staggered start as the marathon runners started at 6 a.m. while the half marathoners started at 6:15. 

When we showed up at the start line, we could kind of see that the tents used for post-race refreshments and massage had become a twisted mess, but the rain didn't start in full force until just after the gun went off for the half marathon. The rain was cold and stingy and made many runners (including myself) have second thoughts about continuing on the course. But luckily the rain subsided after the first mile or so and the run turned into quite a pleasant run.  We were already completely soaked, so any of the off and on sprinkles the rest of the race felt refreshing.  There were also several rainbows that made for beautiful backdrops on the course.

The first half of the race was a little challenging as you had to climb a slight hill out of Hilo and then run up and down through the gulches north of town.  But the scenery was incredible, as were the hearty spectators who came out to cheer people on (and offer donuts to the runners)! Once we reached the turnaround point, it was mostly downhill back to Bayfront before a short loop on Banyan Drive.  For me, it was great to be back running a race again after last year's battle with plantar fasciitis.  It wasn't my fastest half in 1:51:54, but I had a lot of fun running parts of the race with Sarah Nicola, Don Kirby, and Chitwin San Tun. Jason sat this race out and served as race photographer - more photos of the race are available here.

Men's top three overall
In the half marathon, Chris Gregory took first place overall with a time of 1:17:48, followed by Kelley Mckay in 1:20:20 and BIRC group member Brian Pruitt in 1:23:28.  The fourth finisher overall was the first woman, Kathleen O'Neil from Honolulu who finished in 1:24:01.  Abby Santurbane finished in second place for the ladies in a time of 1:30:27 and Chiho Morita was third in 1:33:49.  Full results from the half marathon are available here.

Brian, James and Ben
Big Island Running Company group members represented well with several top finishes in the half marathon.  James Resor, Don Kirby and Jon Kunitake all finished first in their age groups.  Ben Halpern and Sarah Nicola finished in second place in their age groups and John Ferdico took third in his age group.

Sarah Nicola
The Kirby brothers
Maggie Leite
Jon Kunitake
We are usually able to stick around for a bit to watch the marathon finishers come in, but the rain and wind this year didn't make that possible.  The race officials decided to hold the awards ceremony in the bottom of the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, so we missed seeing a lot of the marathoners finish. 
Harumitsu Yoshinaga was the first marathon finisher in a time of 2:51:11.  Second place went to Will Mroz of Philadelphia, PA in a time of 3:02:02 and third place was Todd Reynolds of Fort Worth, Texas in 3:04:06. Annette Leistad was the first female finisher in 3:27:34, followed by Yoko Yamazawa in 3:27:49.  Kona's own Brooke Myers was the third female in 3:29:09. Full results from the marathon are available here.

While the rest of us were out on the race course, the event also hosted a 5k.  In that event, Dayson Sato was first in 20:50. David Pinyerd (21:19) and Florian Nussberger (21:35) followed in second and third place.  Jordan Concannon took first place for the ladies in 22:13, while Keri Fujiwara (23:33) and Melissa Wilson (23:41) completed the top three. Full results from the race are available here.

Congratulations to all of the participants and mahalo to all of the volunteers who braved the weather to make it a first-class event!  Also, mahalo to race directors Bob and Joe Wedemann for all their hard work putting this event on!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2014 Run for Hops

Every year at the beginning of March, tons of beer lovers come to town for the Kona Brew Fest.  One of the featured events of the weekend is the Run for Hops 5K/10K, which is a benefit for PATH (People's Advocacy for Trails Hawaii).  Both locals and tourists love this race, in part for the free beer provided by Kona Brewing Company at the end of the run.

This past Saturday opened with rainy, overcast skies as people gathered for the start of the run. Although I'm sure some people opted to sleep in, almost 600 made it out for what could be considered "perfect running weather" in Kona. (Thanks to Makena Becker for taking these photos. More photos are available here.)

The 10K started off first, followed by the 5K a few minutes later. Full results from the races are available at JTL Timing's website.

Approximately 17 minutes later, local athlete Luis De La Torre was the first person to cross the finish line.  Not too much later, the epic race between Brian Pruitt and James Resor (both members of Big Island Running Company's run group) was decided when Brian crossed the finish line 23 seconds ahead of James. Rumor has it that a rematch will go down this Sunday at the Big Island International Half Marathon.
The top woman in the 5k was Anita Sen with a time of 22:27, followed by Kerstin Busse in 22:46. Kollette Stith was the third woman finisher with a time of 23:45.

Some other notable finishers in the 5K:

Great race for the kids

Tutu Girls who completed the BIRC training program
A friendly face from Indiana - I played softball with her daughter years ago and randomly saw them in the store!
Costumed runners (at least I think that isn't their normal running gear)
In the 10k, Kevin Gravina from Cambridge, Massachusetts was the first finisher with a time 37:02.  Youth trumped experience for second place with high school athlete Thunder Frost (37:45) outlasting Alan Ryan (37:56).

Alan and Thunder pacing together at the beginning.
Rani Henderson continued her strong start to 2014 with first place for the women in the 10k with a time of 39:41.  Two mainlanders followed in second and third - Kirsten Clarke-Hollinger from Tieton, Washington and Meaghan Munroe from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Rani (without the stroller for this race)
Congratulations to all who participated!  Members of our 5k/10k training group all had great races, with many setting new PRs and winning age group awards.  We'll be recognizing them in our next newsletter.

Also, a huge mahalo to all of the volunteers! I was in charge of race day registration and could not have done it without all of our helpers including Adrienne Pipes, Linda Hallinger, Jane Bockus, Linda Jane Kelley, Dave and Shirley Pratt, Laura Dierenfield and many others who jumped in to lend a hand.  After registration was over, I was also drafted to help tear and sort time cards for the finishers.  I never realized what a hectic job that was.  Thanks to everyone who jumped in to help, especially Gail Ranfranz, Sarah Govier, Ricci Racela, Linda Goeth, Simone White, and probably several others I'm forgetting. We can't put on these races without the terrific volunteers and they are greatly appreciated.

Up this weekend is the 17th Annual Big Island International Marathon in Hilo (also with a half marathon and 5k).  We'll be over there at the expo on Saturday, so stop by and say hi! Also, our Kaloko location will be closed on Saturday, but our Alii Drive location will be open all weekend.

If you're sticking around Kona, the Waverider Tri Club is hosting the 5k Leprechaun-a-thon and Sham-Walk starting at 7:00 a.m. at Magic Sands Beach.  Race day registration is from 6-6:40.