Fun and free

Hawaii’s year-round beautiful weather sometimes leads us to forget about the changing of seasons. As fall approaches, I am reminded by the football games, tailgate parties and pigskin picks that many of us enjoy. Elsewhere, most of our counterparts begin to contemplate the inevitable end to the racing season and the dreaded beginning of forced indoor training. Not here. We are the fortunate ones who get to stay outside and keep playing.

Still, in the afterglow of some fast summer swimming, cycling and running races — now is an ideal time to shift gears and recharge the batteries. I always find that training with others and joining a group helps me “reset” both mentally and physically.

The motivational benefits are great, too — especially for those planning to compete in future events. Luckily, there are several free, fun, and social training groups that are easy to join in Kona.

Jason and Melissa Braswell — owners of Big Island Running Company and famous for their eye-catching “Run Big” attire — offer free training programs throughout the year aimed at improving running finesse and consistency in preparation for specific events. Geared for those managing tough work and family schedules, most of their running programs take place Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. and Saturdays at 6:30 a.m. at the Coconut Grove Marketplace location.

Their Honolulu Marathon training program is in full swing — race day is Dec. 8. There’s still time to join, and I am sure the Braswells will have no problem creating a fun and safe plan for you — regardless of your ability.

Their second group training opportunity, fittingly called “Couch to 5K,” is a nine-week program for people with no prior running experience, or those with serious detachment issues with their couch. This fun training bloc culminates with the completion of your first 5K event — the ninth annual Jingle Bell Beach Run on Dec. 22. For more information about their free programs contact Melissa at 327-9333 or

If you already are a runner and want to spice things up a bit, Sal Salmi with the Kona Run/Triathlon Training group offers his knowledgeable insight and free weekly speed training sessions every Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. Runners gather at the Kona Community Aquatic Center parking lot with planned speed workouts at Old Kona Airport Park.

This is a great place to test your mettle and learn how to improve run speed alongside some of Kona’s fastest runners.

For those of you interested in cycling, there are two outstanding training groups here in Kona worth checking out on Saturday mornings — Coffee Talk Riders and the Hawaii Cycling Club.

Coffee Talk Riders — just as the name implies — is geared for cyclists looking for a laid-back vibe to burn a few calories, take in a few laughs and, yes, drink a cup (or two) of coffee along the way. This relaxed, yet outgoing group is a perfect start for those wanting to enter the sport of cycling or find training partners, or for those simply looking for a fun way to spend Saturday morning.

Anyone is welcome to join. Cyclists leave the pool parking lot every Saturday at 7:15 a.m. Whether your ride is short or long — it doesn’t matter, as long as you end up sipping your favorite cup of Kona joe.

For more information about the weekly social rides visit For cyclists seeking a faster pace and wanting to fine-tune their riding skills, the Hawaii Cycling Club may be the group for you. On any given Saturday, it’s not uncommon to find yourself riding alongside professional cyclists, Ironman athletes or other seasoned veterans looking for a quality workout. While it may seem necessary to be adept in cycling to join in the action, this is not the case.

The Hawaii Cycling Club welcomes riders of all abilities — providing education on road safety, group riding techniques, bike-handling skills, and cycling etiquette.

The Cycling Club rolls out of the Old Airportp arking lot at 7 a.m. sharp each Saturday, typically making a U-turn at the Queen Kaahumanu Highway Scenic Lookout above Kiholo Bay. For more information and to view the calendar of events, visit

Just remind yourself, we are the fortunate ones with year-round perfect weather — so get out and take advantage of these amazing free training groups!

With another quiet weekend here on the Big Island, a handful of our local athletes will be heading over to Oahu where three events will be taking place: the Tantalus Triple Trek on Saturday, the Dick Evans Memorial Road Race on Sunday and the 44 on Monday. Wishing all the best of luck — and as Dick Evans would say, “Race brave!”

Coming up

Hope at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai noncompetitive 10K and 5K run/walk will kick off at 7 a.m. Sept. 8, followed by a light breakfast and door prizes. A minimum $25 donation includes a T-shirt if registering prior to the event, $30 the day of the event. All proceeds to benefit cancer research in Hawaii. Contact 325-8052 for registration details.

Also on Sept. 8, at 8:03 a.m., Frozen Pea Productions will host The Wee and DLT Whirled Peas Biathlon, a 3/4-mile swim followed by a 3.9-mile run at Kaiakeakua Beach next to the Kailua Pier.

This event is free with a short Pea-Wee course available for the little ones.

That same day on the Hilo side, Big Island Road Runners will hold the Hilo Bay 5K and 10K Road Races at 7:30 a.m.

The races start at Reed’s Bay Park and registration details can be found at