Runnin’ with Rani: Athletes challenged at Mana and Alii races


As one of the oldest and most well-known dirt roads on the Big Island, Mana Road has the reputation of being the epitome of off-road racing as it has attracted the island’s most fleet-footed runners dating to 1970.

With its red dirt stretching 43 miles along the base of Mauna Kea, the road offers a scenic adventure as it cuts through open ranch lands with plenty of challenging climbs, fast technical descents and rugged terrain.

Wild turkeys and families of wild pigs often wander through pasture so lush and green one might imagine the road would lead to the Emerald City of Oz. And on a day with good weather, it becomes impossible to believe that this dramatic contrast of colors with blue skies, luxuriant verdure and red earth is right in our backyard.

On Sunday, the Big Island Road Runner’s Club continued its tradition of hosting the Mana 10s, featuring a 10K and a 10-mile running race. With Tropical Storm Iselle hundreds of miles away and Hurricane Julio veering away from the islands, racers were treated to perfect racing conditions and an abundance of sunshine.

In the 10-mile event, Alastair In blazed the course and finished with a fantastic time of 1 hour 4 minutes and 13 seconds. Following In was Stephen Hunter in a great time of 1:08:52, with Kailua-Kona’s Jason Braswell outsprinting Jon Jokiel for third in 1:09:51. Jokiel finished a few strides back at 1:10:04.

Waimea’s Sylvia Ravaglia had a close duel with Kailua-Kona’s Karlyn Pipes and won in 1:18:35 to Pipes’ 1:18:46. The race for third also ended up a fight to the finish between Susannah Roy, Kristiana Van Pernis and Grace Sousa.

Roy found the extra gear to bring her over the finish line in 1:21:10, with Pernis in fourth at 1:21:18, followed by Sousa in 1:21:44.

Last year’s winner, Andrew Langtry, defended his title in the 10K event with a time of 38 minutes and 57 seconds — 3:38 faster than his 2013 finish. Next was Laupahoehoe’s Alan Ryan in 40:43, followed by Richard Egley.

Due to a mishap with some of the finish times, a few participants went unrecorded but we do know that Hilo High School’s running star, Carmen Garson-Shumway, won the women’s division. Second went to Ada Benson in 48:54, followed by Jamie Hirai in 49:14.

Meanwhile, the waters seemed calm and smooth in Keauhou Bay for the 28th annual Alii Challenge. The 6-mile swim began in Keauhou Bay and finished at Kamakahonu Beach next to Kailua Pier.

After a few days of rough ocean conditions caused by Iselle, a smaller than normal field of 18 participants took on this prestigious challenge.

In the Individual Men’s Open, James Spencer was first to touch sand at Kamakahonu Beach with an amazing time of 2:24:35. Not far behind was Jim McCleery in 2:31:35, and Rob Murray in 2:43:05.

Staci Studer topped the podium in the Individual Women’s Open with a stellar time of 2:47:15. Braylene Jones followed in second at 2:49:00 and Dene Sturm in third with a great finish of 3:11:50.

Nineteen-year-old Keoni Smith took the Youth division with his time of 2:36:45, and 14-year-old Cody Ranfranz took second in 2:50:30.

In the Mixed Open relay division, Nathaniel Goodell and Krista Anderson finished first with their combined time of 2:24:00. The team of Trent Fisher and Alysia Curdts finished second in 2:34:25, with the father and son duo of Danny and 11-year-old Duke Becker in 3:54:40.

Despite a turbulent week filled with two hurricanes and an earthquake, it was nothing but smiles for those who turned out for a weekend of fun events.