Race ready


Queen Kaahumanu Triathlon Club events “are for runners who don’t need no stinkin’ T-shirt,” said race director Daniel Hodel.

True to the “let’s get the job done” aura of the day, Sunday’s 10-, 20- and 30-kilometer runs provided the perfect remedy for those looking to test their stride with a quality run before tapering for the Keauhou Lavaman Triathlon and Honolulu Marathon.

Since the club’s inception, Hodel has developed a reputation for organizing first-class training events. Sunday’s event did not disappoint as many enjoyed the ice water from cheerful aid stations, postrace snacks and refreshments and — to top it off — published results on the club’s website within two hours of race completion.

The best part? All of it was free.

Similar to other athletic clubs and organizations in the community, Hodel wanted to help runners and triathletes organize their training activities for upcoming races, and also provide the island’s youth free opportunities to develop healthier lifestyles through sport and exercise.

Hodel is no stranger to endurance endeavors. In fact, he thrives upon it. A late bloomer in the running scene, Hodel found himself seduced by the running boom in the 70s resulting in a passion for competitive road racing.

For years, Hodel raced nearly every weekend in the Northwest, logging an average of 110 miles per week. Along the way, Hodel has quietly claimed bragging rights for winning two ultra marathon, 50K, events 28 years apart — Seattle’s “A Winter Run” in 1983 and the 2011 Hilo to Volcano race.

After a move to the Big Island with his wife Kunzang Yuthok in 2001, Hodel’s passion for distance running led him to the Honolulu Marathon. While training for the event, Hodel realized Kona did not have any “marathon readiness” running events. Big Islanders gunning for the December marathon often trained alone without any training races available.

“I wanted to run a 30K (18.6 miles) and thought other people training for the marathon would want to do it, too. Or maybe even a 20K (12.4 miles),” Hodel said.

“This event is intended to give people a benchmark in their training for Honolulu and now, Keauhou Lavaman,” Hodel said.

Breezy Kona trade winds and slightly overcast skies greeted Sunday’s early-risers, as participants anxiously awaited the countdown at the Old Kona Airport Park. The scenic out and back courses traversed Alii Drive with the 10K-ers completing one loop, the 20K running two, and the 30K grinding out three.

Austrian native Thomas Vonach sprinted to the front to take command of the 10K race. Motivated by thoughts of improving upon last year’s third-place finish at the Keauhou Lavaman Triathlon, Vonach bolted over the 10K course in a record 34:57.

Kailua-Kona’s Joe Fairchild finished strong to take second in 39:56, and my son Cole and I baby-jogged our way in for a third overall finish and first for the women in 43:57.

Ironman teen Dan Gampon sprinted for the line in fourth at 44:15, with Orestes “Chico” Barrio rounding out the top five in a great time of 46:31.

Hilo’s Chris Gregory – optimistically shooting to finish as top Hawaii resident for the upcoming marathon — won the 20K race in a swift 1:22:51. Showing no signs of any lingering fatigue in his Ironman legs was Kailua-Kona’s Jon Jokiel, who crossed the line in second at 1:25:20.

Opting for a second loop, Cole and I once again baby-jogged our way in for a third overall finish and first female in 1:28:12. Showing an impressive comeback after a nagging plantar fasciitis injury was Kona’s Sal Salmi, who cruised his way to fourth place at 1:30:28. And in fifth, was Jeremy Withrow in a solid time of 1:39:56.

In the longer 30K course, Laupahoehoe’s Alan Ryan proved to be in great shape heading into Honolulu, easily taking the win with a time of 2:18:44. Second to follow was John Ferdico in 2:37:36, with Jennifer Ward in third and first for the females with 2:41:32. Rounding out the last two spots were Kevin Lannen in 3:02:15, and the always-smiling Charlie Camacho in 3:17:00.

Although participants didn’t receive a decorated finisher’s T-shirt, what they got was the best darn training event for next week’s Keauhou Lavaman Triathlon and December’s Honolulu Marathon.

Coming up Nov. 22 is the Lavaman Sunset 5K run/walk at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. Start time is 5 p.m. at the Kaleiopapa Convention Center. For more information and registration details, visit runfortheone.org.

On Nov. 23, Keauhou Lavaman Triathlon will host the LavaKids Keiki Beach Dash and Youth Aquathon. Start time for the Keiki Dash is 9 a.m. for children 6 and younger. The Youth Aquathon will follow at 9:15 a.m. for ages 7 to 14. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at Keauhou Bay by the Keauhou Canoe Club. For more information contact Susan Nixon at 936-1083. Race applications can also be found at lavamantriathlon.com.

On Nov. 24, the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay presents the Keauhou Lavaman Triathlon. The Olympic-distance event of 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run begins with the pro/elite division at 6:55 a.m., followed by age group wave starts thereafter. Registration is still open; visit lavamantriathlon.com.