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Rani Henderson: Triple header weekend of fast racing

February 21, 2014 - 12:05am

The Hawaii Cycling Club kicked off its 2014 season Saturday with the first of its 13 cycling events scheduled for the year. The Prologue 10-mile individual time trial, a relatively short solo effort against the clock, pushed riders to near-maximum pain thresholds for upwards of 30 minutes.

The highly anticipated “quad and lung burner” did not disappoint, as many took advantage of the opportunity to test their fitness levels in preparation for upcoming cycling and triathlon events.

Ideal race conditions made for fast speeds along the 10-mile course that began on the corner of Kaiminani Drive and Queen Kaahumanu Highway and proceeded north to the finish, just before the scenic point lookout.

Winning this event for the seventh consecutive year was Kona’s Penn Henderson who blazed the course in 20 minutes and 30 seconds, improving his record by 14 seconds with an average speed of 29.27 mph.

Next to cross the line was Waimea’s Maxfield La Fortune in 21:49. Sean Maynard finished third with 22:41.

Kona’s Kym Kiser had the fastest women’s time of 24:50. My efforts placed me six seconds back at 24:56. Rounding out the women’s top three was Jane Bently in 26:27.

Other notable mentions go to Gerd Weber and Harry Yoshida. Just one second separated the two in the competitive 65-69 age division with Weber coming out ahead in 26:40, followed by Yoshida in 26:41.

In his first Prologue event, Kealakekua’s Joe Florendo impressed everyone with his amazing versatility. He is not only Kona’s finest district court judge but also a well-respected runner, and now a strong cyclist as well. Florendo crossed the line in 34:30.

Meanwhile, The Kealakehe Waverider Triathlon Club continued the previous day’s Valentine celebration by hosting the Sweetheart Shuffle runs just below Kealakehe High School.

Participants showed off their spirit by wearing pink and red costumes as they toed the line for the couple’s 10K relay and 5K solo running events.

Jason and Melissa Braswell proved to be the speediest sweethearts of the morning, as they topped the 10K with a combined time of 41:29. Nearly a minute back and in second place were Elizabeth Pittaway and Chris Burnell in 42:25. Third overall went to the duo of John Ferdico and Ali Steiner in 44:50.

Kealakehe Waverider triathlete and cross-country standout, Thunder Frost, was the first to finish the 5K individual race, crossing in an outstanding time of 17:38. Brian Pruitt tried to keep it close with his second place finish of 18:23, and third for the men was Leonard Torricer in 22:37.

Kona’s Anita Leao won the women’s race with her speedy time of 21:24. A few minutes back was Jessica Hinkley in 24:54, followed by Jolene Mears in 26:08.

The next day, despite soggy weather conditions, participants gathered next to Kaiakeakua Beach to take on Peaman’s Terrific Turtle Trudge (332,640 inches), Dragon Dash (126,720 inches) and Golden Fox 1-Mile Gallop (63,360 inches).

Sunday’s race honored a trio of men: Gene Power, the memory of Gary Grubb, and Lenny Katz.

Power, nicknamed “Turtle” for his amazing endurance, is a finisher of two world championship races, Kona and Ultraman. For 20-plus years, he manned the Pea aid station with his bright and warm smile. The races would not have been the same without Turtle. Even now — in his retirement from Pea races — Turtle’s presence is missed.

Grubb, who was once the top Big Island male finisher at the Hawaii Ironman race back in the 90s, was originally given the name “Worm” for his humble, down-to-earth personality. Grubb evolved into the “Dragon” after getting married, and for his ferocious spirit to fight cancer. Grubb’s fun and outgoing personality will always be remembered.

And who could forget the legendary Lenny Katz? An amazing poet and artist who was known to race every event, all heart. His silvery hair gave rise to his name, “Silver Fox,” and when he moved to Santa Barbara, Calif. to live out his golden years, he became the “Golden Fox.”

Peaman has always had a great way of keeping our athletic community linked together with his creative nicknames given to athletes based on the way they raced, a cartoon character or animal they resembled, or just simply by the way they made him feel.

It may have sounded silly to some, and there were a few who decided to create names for themselves, but for those who were given nicknames by Pea — it is truly an honor.

Nearly 100 “pea-ticipants” turned out for a prerace weigh-in and with calculators on-hand to determine the distances of the course. Instead of boring age divisions, athletes were grouped into weight categories for three events measured in inches, not miles.

In the Terrific Turtle Trudge 332,640 inch- or 5.25-mile race, Hilo’s Chris Gregory dominated the field with his swift time of 29:22. Gregory’s time was nearly a minute shy of Allen Wagner’s 2013 course record of 28:25.

The race for second turned out to be a close one between Ignacio Valdivieso and Kona’s Patrick Stover. Valdivieso was able to hold off Stover to sprint into second place with a great time of 31:25. A few strides back was Stover, finishing in 31:31.

In the women’s race, Cole and I baby-jogged our way to first, crossing the line in 32:39. Our time also set a baby-stroller course record, beating the 2006 record of 40:19 by Karen Brisson and her daughter Beth.

Canadian Shirley Van Dyke, who has consistently placed in the top three at the last several races, finished second in a great time of 35:51. In third was recent Mini-Monster women’s champ, Ellyn Brown, who finished in 38:57.

For the 2-mile Dragon Dash, 126,720 inches, Daniel Havanio claimed the overall title in 15:51. A few minutes back was Austin Randerson in 17:10, followed by Paul Randerson one click back in 17:11.

Lori Montgomery proved she is just as fast on land as she is swimming with fins by winning the women’s division in 17:21. Laura Raymond followed in second at 18:00, with Lainey Eckart rounding out the women’s top three in 19:18.

The Golden Fox 1-Mile Gallop witnessed an exciting race for first between the top male and female. With 20 yards to go, Elijah Hall outpaced Nophia Pintor to win in a great time of 7:10. Right on his heels was Pintor in 7:11, placing second overall and first for the females.

Following Hall in the male division, Max Musacchia was second, finishing in 8:15. Aiden Ankrum was third at 8:24.

Keakoa Pintor and Amanda Schiff tied for second place for the women, both crossing the line together in 8:42. And Lynette Randerson, a mother to four boys with her youngest being a 9-month-old, followed in third place in at 9:44.

Coming UpSunday: Team Mango will host its Sprint Triathlon at Kailua Pier. The event will begin at 7 a.m. with a ¼-mile swim, a 14-mile bike ride on Alii Drive, and a 2-mile run. For more information, call Carl Koomoa at 324-7252 or visit teammangoraces.com.

March 2: Frozen Pea Productions will hold the Zoomin’ Zak Plunge and Plod Biathlon at Kaiakeakua Beach. The event starts at 8:08 a.m. with the ½-mile swim and then a 3.9-mile run. There is no sign-up; participants sign out when they finished. For more information, call Peaman at 938-2296.

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