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Runnin’ with Rani: A bittersweet win for future cadet Barrett

June 16, 2017 - 12:05am

After four years of earning many gold honors in cross country and track for Konawaena High School, Lawrence “Rama” Barrett put a final exclamation mark to what has been an outstanding senior year by winning Sunday’s Papa Pea’s Sizzling Summer Sprint Biathlon.

The win however, seemed a little bittersweet. Like many teens who are entering the next phase of their young lives after graduation, Barrett admitted feeling a little saddened to be leaving the tight-knit community of Kona he has known his whole life, but excited to embark on his next fours years of college.

Barrett, who recently turned 18 years old at the end of May, has been appointed to attend the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, which is regarded as one of the most selective colleges in the nation.

“July 17 will be my last day on the island so I’m really reminiscing on a lot of things right now,” Barrett said as he glanced toward Kailua Bay. “But it’s crazy exciting — it’s free education. My dad is really excited because he doesn’t have to pay for my college. So basically everything is paid for including a $1000 salary every month and I’ll be running on the cross country team. My goal is to become an Air Force officer.”

It didn’t take long for Barrett to add some humor for his participation in the ½-mile swim and 2-mile sprint on Alii Drive.

“My thought was ‘Oh Cody (Ranfranz) is not going to be here today so I wanna do it!’ He’s doing a little college visit so I thought this would be my one chance.”

Warm, sunny skies and crystal clear waters of Kailua Bay set the stage for an exciting biathlon race for pea-ticipants.

After the arm thrashing and splashing were done and over with, Hawaii Preparatory Academy swimming standout, Ryan Cohen, reached Kaiakeakua Beach in first to clock in with a blazing time of 12 minutes and 45 seconds.

Not too far behind was a chase pack of Duke Becker and Aiden Ankrum — both just 12-years of age — finishing the swim portion in 13:05 and 13:08, respectively. Becker’s father, Danny, Peaman and Barrett followed about a minute back.

With Cohen ending his race just after the swim, it looked to be an individual’s race for first between Becker and Ankrum. But little did they know, the speedy legs of Barrett were on the hunt to take them down.

“Something in my head told me to keep going, I can’t let these kids beat me,” Barrett said with a laugh. “So I just kept going until my legs started to fatigue and then I told myself, ‘You know what? I can do this. I’ve done more difficult sets with coach (Patrick) Bradley.’”

Barrett said that he passed both Becker and Ankrum about a mile into the 2-mile run segment, and kept his foot on the gas all the way to the finish line to claim his second Peaman Biathlon victory of his young athletic career in a time of 27:18.

Keeping it close were Becker and Ankrum for the next two spots, 27:42 and 27:55 respectively.

In the women’s race for first, recent Honu triathlon finisher, Mercedes DeCarli, made it look easy as she claimed her second Peaman Biathlon victory of the year with her time of 30:22.

“I was just here to have fun and it definitely hurt to try and go fast,” DeCarli said of her race. “I didn’t really know who was in front of me coming out of the water, but then I saw Glee (Jewell) when I was heading out on the run. I thought there were a few women in front of me in the swim, but I was really surprised to come out close to Glee because she’s really fast.”

DeCarli said that she is currently training for her next endeavor, Ironman 70.3 Calgary, slated for July 23. She plans to increase the intensity of her training sessions over the next six weeks.

As far as feeling recovered from the half Ironman distance, DeCarli said;“I don’t feel any soreness from Honu, but I decided to do a trail run and hill repeats on Friday so I can feel that.”

Following DeCarli in the women’s race was Heather Melrose in 32:10, and Jewell in third at 33:16.

The Split Peas relay division witnessed a new team to take the win with the combined times of Dan Gampon and Guzman securing first place in 28:32. Alec Ankrum, who typically wins the relay title with his brother Aiden, ripped the 2-mile sprint in a blazing time of 12:49.

In the Pea Wee division, it turned out to be a family affair for the Barrett family, with Rama’s younger sister, Rosalish, winning the LavaKids Pea Wee course of a 200-yard swim and 1-mile run in 17:18.

Rosalish and her mother also claimed the Pea Wee Split Peas title with their combined time of 21:41, while Ben Melrose won the 200-yard swim in 14:07, and Joe Melrose topped the 1-mile run in 8:01.

Off-Island Racing News

Several Big Island athletes went on an off-island excursion last weekend to participate in races on Oahu and San Francisco.

Saturday’s Mango Madness 10+ Miler on Oahu is one of eight races held throughout the year as part of the HURT (Hawaiian Ultra Running Team) Trail running series that leads up to the granddaddy of all trail races — HURT 100.

The Mango Madness is one of the most unique by the fact that each year, race directors Melanie Koehl and Jacque Tellei, change the course layout while adding distance or an unexpected detour for a race that grinds through some of the most tough, technical, and steep terrains of the Tantalus trail system. Hence, it has become known as the “10-plus miler” as the distance can be anywhere from 10 to 13 miles on race day.

Local athletes Patrick Stover, Bree Wee, Mikey Brown, Sara Bloom, Rob Van Geen, Grant Miller and Janet Higa-Miller represented Kona well with a great showing at the annual event that attracted 106 participants.

Both Stover and Wee proved that they can run with some of the best trail runners in the state, placing second overall in the men’s and women’s races with their times of 1:48:32 and 2:11:00, respectively.

Oahu’s Matt Hause won the overall title with his time of 1:47:33, and Malory Peterson of Kailua for the women in 2:01:51.

Kona’s Sara Bloom also busted out a sixth place women’s finish with her time of 2:31:26.

“Was a blast cruising Oahu’s trails for Mango Madness,” Bloom said in an email. “The sticker for the event said, ‘we eat hills for breakfast,’ so prepared or not, we ate elevation.”

In addition to navigating through the single-track trails, Higa-Miller said that participants were asked to perform a fun task at some point during the race.

“This year the race clocked 11 miles, and at the highest point of about 2000 feet, we were asked to stand on a cement podium and wave ‘aloha’ to Diamond Head,” Higa-Miller said.

The rest of the Kona crew also posted some impressive times with Brown finishing in 2:23:05, Miller in 2:35:07, Van Geen in 3:33:23, and Higa-Miller at 3:59:57.

Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Since 1981, top professional and amateur triathletes from around the globe have been known to take part in one of the most grueling and challenging triathlons in the San Francisco Bay area — The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.

The well-known prison built on Alcatraz Island was home to more than 1545 prisoners during its existence as a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963. Famous inmates include Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Henry Young and Robert Stroud “Birdman of Alcatraz.”

It is said that the most famous “Escape from Alcatraz” was that of Frank Lee Morris. Morris and two others escaped from Alcatraz on June 11, 1962, and they were never to be seen again.

The history and mystique surrounding Alcatraz Island is what draws more than 2000 athletes year after year to take part in a triathlon that starts off with one of the most punishing open water swim segments — a frigid 1.5-mile swim in sub 55-degree water conditions with strong currents.

Once successfully finishing their swim at the Marina Green Beach, athletes transition into their running shoes for a half-mile warm-up run before the 18-mile bike segment that takes them through Golden Gate Park.

The race concludes with a scenic 8-mile run through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area featuring coastal trails and the dreaded Equinox Sand Ladder - a 400-stair climb up a cliff.

Kailua-Kona’s Dr. Jacob Head of Keauhou Veterinary Hospital tossed all fears aside when his name was pulled through random drawing to compete in this epic event.

However, strong winds and uncommonly choppy waters early Sunday morning forced race organizers — for the first time in recent history — to cancel the swim portion of the 37th edition of the event. The conditions in the bay made it too dangerous for safety personnel in kayaks and on paddleboards to be in the water to help keep the swimmers safe.

“The day started out great but as it became light out, the wind started to pick up and they issued a small craft advisory,” Head said in an email. “Due to safety issues the swim was cancelled. The swim from Alcatraz is the defining reason to do this race. They decided to proceed with a modified course, just the bike and run.”

Head had no problems adjusting to the modified race that began with an 18-mile bike ride followed by an 8-mile run.

“The bike was great, it’s an awesome course,” he said. “The run was beautiful. It is along the Golden Gate Bridge and even the dreaded sand ladder wasn’t so dreadful. I felt like I was finally able to put together a decent run after a couple of poor efforts at the last two races. Very happy that I was the second place person from Hawaii. So despite my disappointment about the swim, overall it was a great course that was organized very well.”

Head finished in a great time of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 33 seconds. Overall men’s and women’s winners were Ben Kanute and Lauren Goss with their times of 1:30:09 and 1:42:06, respectively.

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