Rani Henderson: Three, two, one…Go!

A sea of green costumes swept over Magic Sands beach park Saturday for Kealakehe Waverider Triathlon Club’s 5K Leprechaun-A-Thon &Sham Walk.

Participants upped the antics in celebration of the Feast of Saint Patrick as a collection of festive leprechauns, and others bedecked with shamrocks and holiday green, toed the line for the 7 a.m. start.

All that seemed to be missing was a traditional uilleann pipe player wearing an Irish kilt.

Chasing the pot of gold was Ed Bickley, who charged into the lead on the pancake flat out and back race course. Quickly forming a chase pack were Filippo Neri, Konawaena’s Cody Ranfranz and Rene Hirsiger.

By the halfway point, Bickley had extended the gap to a 40-second lead over his closest pursuers, making for an exciting race for second place.

Bickley cruised to the finish line in a stellar time of 19 minutes and 1 second. Neri outsprinted Ranfranz to take second in 19:51.

Ranfranz, at just 14 years of age, is slowly but surely becoming a force to be reckoned with. Not only is he a remarkable high school swimmer, Ranfranz has also proved over the last few weeks that his talents extend deep into the running arena as well. Ranfranz crossed the line in third at 20:15.

First for the ladies was Donna Jones in a great time of 25:28. A few strides back in second place was Janet Carden in 25:37. Kelly Hudik followed in 26:15.

Kua Bay 12.2-mile Individual Cycling Time Trial

The expectation of high winds hitting the island caused quite the stir on Queen Kaahumanu Highway as 40 cyclists readied themselves for the Hawaii Cycling Club’s Kua Bay Individual Time Trial.

Unlike most cycling races where participants battle Pele’s temperamental gusty headwinds and crosswinds, Saturday’s conditions were nearly perfect, treating racers to a favorable tailwind.

Riders started at 30-second intervals near the entrance of Waikoloa Beach Drive and headed 12.2 miles south to finish at the top of Kua Bay.

In the race for first, Kona’s Penn Henderson once again out-pedaled the field as he blazed the course at a blistering 32 miles per hour to cross the line in 22:48. Henderson’s time also set a new course record, besting Gary Shield’s 2010 record of 25:24.

Two minutes back and in second place was Luis De La Torre in 24:54. Third overall went to Michael Williams in a great time of 25:08.

Coming in first for the women was Kym Kiser who crossed the finish line in a speedy time of 27:17. Next was Laura Leno in 31:04, with Winona Chen rounding out the women’s top three with her time of 31:35.

In the men’s 65-69 age division, it was deja vu as once again only one second separated first and second place. The friendly rivalry between Gerd Weber and Harry Yoshida came down to the last pedal stroke as Weber outpaced Yoshida 29:47 to 29:48.

Another close race was between teen speedsters Keoni Smith and Dan Gampon in the men’s 15-19 age division. Smith crossed the line in first at 30:56 followed by Gampon in 31:05.

Hilo marathon, half marathon and 5K

Over on the Hilo side, runners were greeted to the sounds of howling winds and heavy rain for Sunday’s 17th annual Big Island International Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K running events.

Despite the cold, windy, and soggy race conditions, more than 800 eager participants couldn’t resist running alongside tranquil waterfalls, lush green forest and waves breaking on Hilo’s shoreline.

Having new out and back routes also meant new course records were up for grabs.

Japan’s Harumitsu Yoshinaga held a solid pace of 6:32 pace per mile to claim the overall men’s title in the marathon at 2:51:11. A distant second was Pennsylvania’s Will Mroz in 3:02:03. Third overall went to Todd Reynolds of Texas in a solid time of 3:04:06.

The women’s race ended up being a fight to the finish as Norway’s Anette Leistad held off Japan’s Yoko Yamazawa, 3:27:34 to 3:27:49. Not too far behind was our top Big Islander, Kailua-Kona’s Brooke Myers, who finished in third place with a great time of 3:29:09.

In the half marathon, Hilo’s Chris Gregory defended his title by winning in a fabulous time of 1:17:48. Second to cross was Washington’s Kelly Mackay in 1:20:20, with Kailua-Kona’s Brian Pruitt in third at 1:23:28.

Honolulu’s Kathleen O’Neil was the first female to break the tape in a speedy time of 1:24:01. Abby Santurbane of Colorado was next in 1:30:27, and rounding out the women’s top three was Japan’s Chiho Morita in 1:33:49.

Dayson Sato ran away from the field to win the competitive 5K event in 20:50. David Pinyerd followed in second place at 21:19, with Florian Nussberger crossing in third with 21:35.

Hilo’s Jordan Concannon topped the women’s field with her time of 22:13. Coming in second was Keri Fujiwara in 23:33, and Melissa Wilson of Mountain View was third at 23:41.

It was a great weekend to watch some fast racing, new records being set, and a few spirited leprechauns.