Barefoot Rick's Hawaii Five-0 Tour - Kona Marathon, June 11, 2006

It's been many years since I've been to the Hawaiian Islands. For more than a year now, I've been thinking about getting to Hawaii to run a marathon during my 50th year on this planet. Thanks to the help and support of my wife (who spent many hours researching flights and places to stay) we made a decision to plan a family vacation around the Kona Marathon on June 11.

We arrived at Honolulu, Oahu on Saturday June 3 and spent several days getting reacquainted with the island that I had been most familiar with, back in the 70s when I was in the military. It didn't take long for me to get my bearings again and we spent several days enjoying the beauty of the island, snorkeling, boogey-boarding and having a general blast with my 16 year old daughter, a couple of her cousins, my wife, and her mother. It was a lot of fun!

We arrived in Kona on Thursday June 8. We did a few things on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (saving the volcanoes for after the marathon). On Saturday evening, Rebecca and I met Lee Collins and her running club at the beach next to the host hotel for a pasta meal cooked on a camp stove! Yummy! It was great talking to Lee in person after all our conversations on the Runner's World Masters Forum. (Lee was supposed to run the marathon with us but had a bit of problem by incurring some severe tendonitis from the previous weekend's Honu Half Triathlon, which she completed in under 7 hours [way to go, Lee!) Also, John Kunitake was hanging out with the Hilo group. John is the leading sponsor of the Kona Marathon every year through his UCC Kona Coffee company.


Lee Collins, Pasta Queen


Da Hilo Gang!

I woke before the alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. It was only a half mile walk down to the start line, so I arrived in plenty of time for the 5:30 start. It was still dark since the mountains in the east prevent an earlier sunrise. I talked with several folks before the race, including Robert Lopez (resident Marathon Maniac, #111)  who said that their were 4 other Marathon Maniacs running the marathon. (BTW, I am Marathon Maniac #219.) We managed to get a few of us together for a couple of pics before the start.

The marathon started at around 5:30 a.m., give or take a few minutes. (Things are pretty low-key in the islands and things kind of start and finish when folks get around to it.) The first six miles winds along Al'il Drive, the prettiest part of the course. There were plenty of seascapes and small crowds of folks to cheer on the runners. Once we started to go out on the highway, however, the crowds, along with the landscape, became bleak. The remaining 7 miles to the turn-around point are along the Queen Kaahumanu Highway and about all there is are lava fields. It is some very interesting landscape, but there is not a smidge of shade. The sun relented until approximately mile 10 for me, about 7 a.m., and when it came out it came out with a fury. The nice 70 degree start quickly became the mid 80s with an intense sun above. The aid stations were every couple of miles which made it nice -- especially since all of them were stocked with plenty of ice. They offered up water, Ultima, and Coca-Cola! Huh? Never been to a marathon where Coke was one of the energy drinks, but it sure tasted good!


Hmmm ... a blurry lens, but the Marathon Maniac shirts look good!

Back to the marathon. At about mile 10, I see this guy taking a picture of me. Holy smoke! It's Rusty Collins. owner of Metro Walk & Run in Kansas City as well as the race director for the Gobbler Grind Marathon in Overland Park, Kansas. He had brought a Train To End Stroke Team to run Kona. It was great to see him. Rusty ran with me a bit, and soon said adieu as we turned off the highway at about mile 11 and turned west into the Energy Lab area down by the Old Airport. This was the roughest asphalt on the entire course (the rest of the course had smooth surfaces). Anyway, the asphalt was rough for the two miles to the turn-around and then the 2 miles back out to the highway.

Once back out on the highway it started to really heat up. I saw Rusty again briefly and then continued on back into Kailua-Kona. I was really starting to feel the affects of the heat and ended stopping at a couple of the aid stations along the highway to rest for a minute or so and drink cup after cup of cold water and Coke. AHHHH! When we finally hit the 20 mile mark, we were heading back along Al'il Drive. The last few miles were tough. I wanted to walk but I resisted. I just kept telling myself the quote I have used so often, "Inch by inch it's a cinch!"

I headed into the last mile feeling a little stronger, and just kept the 9.5 minute pace into the finisher chute at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort Hotel. They called out Barefoot Rick from Lee's Summit Missouri as I looked at the clock showing 4:21! I'll take it, I thought. It was a hot day with a respectable time ... I'll take it!


Barefoot Rick and Robert Lopez

So, it was one of the hottest marathons I have run, but I survived. It was not my slowest marathon but it will always be one of my most memorable. Whenever I think of the Kona Marathon, I will think of the TV show Hawaii Five-0 and how I survived the Big Island Kona Marathon during my 50th year on Mother Earth, barefoot of course!

Factoids:

Ran the entire distance (I'm a marathon runner, not walker!)
19th barefoot marathon (37th overall)
Overall: 72 of 405
Males: 54 of 158
Age Group (50-54): 7 of 18

Pics of Family Vacation

 

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