The stage was set for the Kauai Hawaii running world with its third annual marathon. A thought kept turning in my head, was it even possible to be competitive or be concerned with ‘personal bests’ in a venue such as this? A setting that naturally evokes ooohs and aaahs, and has taken the travel industry by storm as one of the best places to kiss. Yes, that’s what I was thinking when I fell asleep.
Well before most people were awake, the Kauai air was clear and the stars were putting on a show in the pre dawn sky. I looked up at the alarm and sure enough four am had sprinted to the finish the line, I nudged my wife from a shallow slumber and whispered ‘Showtime’. There was an urgency about our pace, we needed to get into Poipu before 5am and before Kauai Marathon officials began shutting its main artery and the location of the starting line. Arriving early for her first half marathon enabled her to hydrate and grab a bite prior to the start. There was a lot of pre race Aloha in the Poipu Shopping Village parking lot but when the sun rose above the horizon it would be brutal.
Marathon venues take on different energies, I recall running in the Merion Township, (outside Philadelphia) race years ago and the mood of residents impacted with road closures was quite different than the residents situated close to the race start. There is nothing like being screamed at by a Philadelphian, I then knew what it was like to be scorned in the city of brotherly love.
The Kauai Marathon was exactly opposite from the my experience from years past. The island came together to show its Aloha for the event, and why not. It is arguably one of the most scenic courses in the world, taking you through lush jungles and rain forests to the dry flat lands of Poipu. To running along the ocean where a fading south swell was providing glassy 4 foot faces that made most of the participants forget about any pain and focus on the coolness of the water.
With over 1700 runners from 47 states and thirteen countries all focused on having a great time, it was more carnival like, than it seemed an elite sporting event sanctioned by running associations. It had to be the locale, the tropical breezes, and the spontaneity of the moment that motivated quite a number of couples who were here on their romantic honeymoon vacation to sign up and take part in the event. To cheer each other on, share a momentous event, and to earn a special Kauai honeymoon tale to tell their grandchildren 25 years from today. There were parents carrying and wheeling their children across the finish line, to brides being hoisted by their husbands and sharing a quick peck on the cheek. There was a sense of Aloha that filled the air, and competition took a distant second place.
In closing lets not forget that there were some runners here focused on taking home the prize money of $15,000 provided by the race organizers. Leading the race for a majority of the course was the eventual winner of the Kauai Marathon, Mr. Tyler McCandless with a time of 2:23.19, setting a blistering pace of 5.45 minute miles. The first female to cross the finish line was Becki Lynn Lassley of Littleton, CO in 3:23.47. The half marathon was won by Rich Hanna of Sacramento, CA in 1:15.05 and Varinka Barbini of Lexington, KY was the first woman to cross in a time of 1:25.45
We would love to see your photos of this years Kauai Marathon or you can leave a comment about what your favorite part of this years event was.