When the road is closed, the kids will play.
Nearly 100 keiki signed up for the inaugural LavaKids 4th of July Liberty Fun Run, taking advantage of the closed parade route for a run down Alii Drive to Coconut Grove Marketplace.
“It is the perfect situation because the road is closed and the audience is there to cheer them on,” LavaKids race director Gerry Rott said. “After finishing, all the kids can enjoy the fireworks and make it a fun, family evening.”
The race had great energy as the runners — most decorated in patriotic garb — travelled down Alii Drive, with parade-goers eagerly cheering them on to the finish line.
The 1-mile race started at Big Island Honda and the half-mile at the north lawn of Hulihee Palace.
Thunder Frost set the bar high for future participants in the 1-mile race, coming in with a scorching time of 4 minutes and 23 seconds.
In the half-mile race, Kali and Maya Victorino took home first and second place honors, finishing in 2:53 and 3:14, respectively.
Rott said the organization plans to hold a similar event in conjunction with the Christmas parade. However, the next LavaKids event on deck is the LavaKids Aquathlon on July 27. The event will be part of the Greg Cameron Firemen’s Fund Biathlon at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area.
“This is the first LavaKids event that has not been together with the Lavaman event,” Rott said. “There are a lot of things we want to do, and it is always hard to get the first one under your belt.”
In March, LavaKids was awarded a grant from the County of Hawaii to work with the Department of Parks and Recreation to become a resource for the Big Island’s youth on all sporting activities the island has to offer, as well as expanding LavaKids and forming more branded events year-round.
“I think the word is starting to get out,” Rott said. “Hopefully this event will help in that with people see all the kids running the parade route.”
Rott said LavaKids plans to do at least one branded event a month, but the majority of resources have been dedicated in creating an easy to use calendar at lavakids.org.
The calendar lists activities available for children ages 7-18, ranging from summer camps to team tryouts and youth endurance events. Rott said the initial feedback on the calender has been good, but there is still much the group is hoping to expand upon.
“Our hope is that this can be a club that kids are proud to be a part of and that they will pledge to live a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “LavaKids is just meant to be the vehicle to give them the tools to be able to do that. Whether that is directing them to these programs or having periodic events where they can gauge their progress.”