The number “26” was a familiar theme celebrated by many area athletes recently.
For one individual, the number held a historical significance commemorating years of fast racing, good memories and enduring friendships. For others, 26 became a personal achievement after many months of training in pursuit of a goal.
On the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, Frozen Pea Productions celebrated its 326th event in 26 years. Pretty remarkable if you ask me.
“The first ever ‘Pea-event’ occurred on Nov. 29, 1987,” event organizer Peaman said before entering the waters of Kaiakeakua Beach. “We’re making history by just being here.”
For the first 21 years, the annual Thanksgiving weekend event was named “Peaman’s Post Pigout Plunge” – a fitting title for a race that featured a competitive 1.3-mile swim in Kailua Bay, attracting a stacked field of the island’s best swimmers.
In 2009, the event was renamed “Peaman’s Post Pigout Peamania” and the swim event was changed to a double-biathlon consisting of a ¼-mile swim and 2-mile run racing first in a clockwise direction, then tackling the course in a counter-clockwise direction.
Keeping it fun and keeping it real is how I have always known Peaman to be. I am thankful that he continues to put on so many fun and free events for the community.
The community collaborated to help Peaman put on his Sunday event due to a lack of volunteers busy with all the happenings of the holiday weekend.
Team Mango’s Carl Koomoa, Melissa Braswell and Chico of Big Island Running Company, Mike Wolf with Hawaii Cycling Club, Becky Prater and Linda Hollinger showed up to help Peaman give his 326th event a big boost.
At 8:26 a.m., biathletes took off in choppy and murky conditions. First to exit the water was defending champion, Luis De La Torre, followed closely by Thomas Vonach.
After the clockwise and counter-clockwise double swims and runs were complete, Vonach had the most gas left in the tank to sprint through the finish line first in 37 minutes and 23 seconds. De La Torre was 17 seconds back in 37:40, while Adam Ankrum rounded out the men’s top three in 45:30.
I crossed the finish line third overall and first for the women in 44:26. Winona Chen was next at 48:32, with Jennifer Stabrylla in third place at 50:33.
Excitement surrounded the Split Pea Wee Division as the top three were closely bunched. Racing in for first overall was Hilo’s Kanaipono Eckart, who finished in an outstanding time of 11:09. Right on his heels was his sister, Lainey Eckart, who topped the female division in an amazing 11:12.
Each sibling now has five wins in the Split Pea Wee biathlon series. Third overall went to Jordan Zarate in a great time of 11:25.
In the long-course relay division, Jim and Maggie McCleery topped the field with a time of 46:17. For the Pea Wee Split Pea relay, it was Becky and David Aegler who teamed up to take the win in 29:14.
Dee Robbins kept it fun by doing the ¼-mile swim twice and skipping the run to finish in 15:35. While Katie Payne swam it once in 10:55. Mike Wolf opted for the 2-mile run double to finish first in 39:35. Ella Musacchia won the Pea Wee run in 11:23.
Runners on Oahu Sunday celebrated the number 26 by participating in the 41st Honolulu Marathon. Thousands gathered for the 5 a.m. start on Ala Moana Boulevard where they were treated to a fireworks display, launching an exciting journey toward a perennial dream.
The 26.2-mile test of endurance meandered through the Christmas light displays of downtown Honolulu, then east to Hawaii Kai, with a final return climbing up Diamond Head’s tough hill before reaching the finish line at Kapiolani Park.
Twenty-eight-year-old Gilbert Chepkwony of Kenya made it look easy as he cruised through the finish line first in 2 hours, 18 minutes and 46 seconds. While Ethiopia’s Ehitu Kiros won the competitive women’s division in 2:36:02.
A soon-to-be married couple were the first Hawaii residents to cross the finish line in Kapiolani Park. Nathan Carlson of Honolulu finished with an impressive time of 2:45:39, while his finance, Polina Babkina crossed in 2:46:30.
Leading the way for top Big Island honors was Volcano’s Lyman Perry who finished in 2:57:57. Following Perry was Laupahoehoe’s Alan Ryan in 3:00:48. The next two spots went to Hilo’s Jonathan Peralto in 3:02:34 and Chris Gregory in 3:08:59. Kailua-Kona’s Kenneth Stover was the fifth Hawaii Island finisher in 3:14:52.
Waimea’s Melanie Aiona claimed the top Big Island female title in 3:37:43. Right behind her was Kailua-Kona’s Anita Leao who, in her marathon debut, cruised in with a great time of 3:38:11. Next was Sylvia Ravaglia in 3:39:01, followed by Brooke Myers in 3:44:38, and Hilo’s Sally Marrack in 3:45:53.
On the same day, Jason Braswell of Big Island Running Company set a personal record running the 26.2-mile distance at the California International Marathon in Sacramento.
Braswell made sure to “Run Big” by finishing with a blazing 2:42:50, averaging a 6:12 pace per mile and besting his previous marathon time of 2:43:18.
Yet another “sweet 26” celebration will take place Dec. 26 when Peaman enjoys his 50th birthday. Happy Birthday, Pea!
Coming up Dec. 22, Hawaii Sport Events presents the ninth annual Jingle Bell Beach Run at Kailua Pier. Start time for the Christmas-themed event is 7:30 a.m. It features 5K and 1-mile run/walk distances and Santa’s Keiki Dash for children 6 and younger. Entry fees are $25 for the 5K and $10 for the mile. A $5 late fee will be added to race-day sign-ups. Packets will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 21 at Big Island Running Company’s Alii Drive store. For details visit kona5K.com.
Also Dec. 22, Team Mango presents the Journey-2-LaLa Land 17-mile hill climb. Racing begins at the bottom of Lako Street at 6 a.m. for runners and 8 a.m. for cyclists. For information visit teammangoraces.com.