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Big birthday, fun 5K get Lavaman race week flowing

Updated: 
April 1, 2017 - 8:35am

WAIKOLOA — Leland Nash had a pretty memorable third birthday celebration, along side a few hundred of his closest friends.

The birthday boy and his mom, Nicole Nash, were among the 227 finishers in the sold out Lavaman Sunset 5K on Friday evening.

“He had a good time out there,” Nicole Nash said. “I carried him a bit of the way, but that just made it some extra exercise for me.”

The conditions were perfect for the event that has become the annual kickoff to Lavaman weekend at Waikoloa Beach Resort. Janet Higa-Miller, co-owner of Bike Works Beach & Sports, the presenting sponsor of the race, couldn’t imagine a better way to ignite the flow of events leading up to Sunday’s triathlon.

“This is always exciting and we had a great turnout,” Higa-Miller said. “It’s fun for the whole family and a lot of kids come out for the 5K.”

The event is a benefit for PATH, which also helps with the logistics of the event.

The race also raises money for an additional charity, which Higa-Miller said this year will be — appropriately — LavaKids.

While a shiny finisher medal and birthday song from the crowd made it memorable for Leland, Nicole Nash said they try to make it a point to come out to events that support local organizations, like PATH. Leland’s first 5K — way back when he was 2 years old — was the Run for the Dry Forest.

“Any time people have the opportunity to get out, get some exercise and raise money for a good cause, it’s great,” Nicole Nash said. “PATH is a terrific organization and we try to support it.”

The mass pack took off from the Queens’ MarketPlace and scattered into the finish line as pink and orange hues took over the sky. Colorado’s Darryn Biggerstaff took home top honors in the out-and-back race, finishing in 19 minutes and 40 seconds. Christopher Walker (19:57), of Alaska, was close behind, while Jon Jokiel (20:05) was third and the top Big Islander in the fun run. Canada’s Maya Kobylanski was the first female, coming in at 20:43.

The race has become so popular that it has nearly outgrown its current track. Higa-Miller said next year they are looking into making it a loop route, to accommodate more people while keeping the race safe.

As for Lavaman celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend, Higa-Miller said just by taking a look around, it’s no suprise it has stood the test of time.

“Look at this venue. It’s beautiful,” she said. “But the race is also a great starting point for people looking to get into the sport. And for the competitive athletes, you can still go really hard and then have a great time at the party after the race.”

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