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Kona Marathon notebook: Aloha spirit fuels Malamed to lofty goal

Updated: 
June 26, 2017 - 8:20am

WAIKOLOA — Laird Malamed didn’t have to look hard for some good advice as he trekked through the Kona Marathon.

Bright red shirts sported by friends and family members dotted the race course in support of the Washington runner at Waikoloa Beach Resort on Sunday.

They read, “Run, Laird, Run.”

In pursuit of running his 50th marathon in his 50th state before his 50th birthday — which is quickly approaching — Malamed ran, walk, skipped and limped his way over the finish line at the Waikoloa Bowl, overcoming injury to complete the lofty goal he set out to accomplish years ago.

Malamed finished in 4 hours, 56 minutes and 27 seconds, just sneaking into the top 100 finishers.

However, he wasn’t worried about the time. Just getting across the line was the goal.

“It was hot, and a little slower than I’m used to doing because I’m hurt, but I got through it,” Malamed said. “It’s a nice sense of accomplishment. I knew I wasn’t here to set any records today.”

Landing on the Big Island banged up and barely able to walk, Malamed faced the harsh reality that he might not be able to complete his 50 in 50 before 50 goal.

There are a few more marathons in Hawaii this year, but none were before his birthday on July 12. However, with a little help from some friends, combined with some aloha spirit, Malamed was able to get it done.

“I found terrific local people here who were involved in sports medicine who helped me get ready for the race,” Malamed said. “I really felt the aloha spirit — on and off the course — and that helped me finish.”

Through his run crusade, Malamed is raising money for a trio of charities — the California Science Center, Children International, and ICivics. He is seeking to raise at least $25,000 in donations, and plans to double any donations to turn it into $50,000. Donations are open until July 12.

For more information or to donate, visit justgive.org/laird50.

Something for everyone

Ten years ago, Lydia Cowlishaw had her eye on a snazzy shirt at the Kona Marathon. Unfortunately, it was something money couldn’t buy.

“I really wanted it,” Cowlishaw recalled. “But they told me I had be in one of the races to get it. So right away, I signed up for the 5K with my husband and we did it.”

She not only got her shirt, but picked up a new hobby — racking up 5K finishes. Cowlishaw, finished her 10th 5K on Sunday at the Kona Marathon.

The Ogden, Utah 5K specialist also won her 80-plus age group with a time of 1:18:21 — albeit she was the only one in it.

Long race resumes run in the family. Her daughter, Paula Boone, founded the 50 States Marathon Club with her husband, Steve. The duo has finished upward of 1,000 combined marathons.

“We were coming along as cheerleaders, but there is nothing harder than watching a marathon,” she said with a laugh. “It can be like watching paint dry sometimes. Time goes by faster when you are on the course doing something rather than watching.”

Cowlishaw admitted she wasn’t an endurance athlete before her most recent foray into 5Ks. So what’s her key to consistency?

“One foot in front of the other,” Cowlishaw said. “If you do that, there’s no way you can’t finish.”

Fellow visiting 5Kers, Terra and Juli Stevens, in town from Missouri, followed that advice to a T.

Terra was tops in her 15-19 age group, while her mom was more than happy with a finisher medal. Similar to Cowlishaw, doing the 5K gave the pair something to do while dad, Bill Stevens, finished the marathon route.

“We have had a lot of fun here,” Juli Stevens said. “We had never been to Hawaii before so all this is really exciting or us — running around the lava rock and palm trees. It was pretty hot, but coming from Missouri, this is almost a break for us this time of year.”

Terra Stevens is looking at both the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Manoa as college options, and the Kona Marathon was an extra excuse to come out to paradise. For a dose of the Hawaiian culture, the Stevens didn’t have to look far from the finish line.

Na Ho’ aloha — made up of Marie Kuramoto, Yolie Nakamura, Naomi Seely and Pua Conley — put on a hula show for the nearly 1,500 finishers, volunteers and supporters — around 70 percent that come from out of state, according to race director Sharron Faff.

Their group name means, “the friends,” which is what they become for most of the onlookers who enjoy the show and want to grab a picture or share stories from their day on the course post-race.

“We always look forward to coming,” Nakamura said. “Everyone is so enjoyable and we want to help celebrate what they have accomplished.”

Kuramoto is the sister of Jon Kunitake, one of the race founders. She has been doing hula at the event since the start 24 years ago — sometimes even after participating in the marathon.

“We try to give them the Hawaii experience through hula. It’s just a little bit of the culture,” Kuramoto said. “We want them to feel the aloha, so they keep coming back.”

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