Locals sweep top spots

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    Dr. Joel Punzal of Lihue sprints to the finish of Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run half marathon on Saturday.

  • Photo by Marianne Buley

    Matt Taba of Kalaheo and Aliyah Taba run side by side toward the finish of the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run 5K. Aliyah sprinted away to finish in 31:37, while Matt clocked 31:41.

  • Photo by Marianne Buley

    Brothers Ka‘eo Punzal, left, and Po‘okela Punzal of Koloa are all smiles at the start of the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run 5K on Saturday.

  • Photo by Marianne Buley

    Matthew Duncan of Koloa runs toward the finish of the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run 10k on Saturday.

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    Dorrie Michioka of Lihue closes in on the finish line of the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run half marathon on Saturday.

KOLOA — At the 10-mile mark of the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run half marathon, Garrett Scales checked his watch.

He had 30 minutes to cover the final 3.1 miles to break two hours.

So the Lawai man, as he put it, found another gear.

When he crossed the finish line, the clock read 1:59:36. Mission accomplished.

“I just really wanted to break two hours,” he said.

It wasn’t easy. The final three miles on the Koloa Bypass Road are uphill, and by that part of the morning, it’s heating up. So Scales had to work for it.

It was worth it. He finished fifth in his age division, enjoyed the breakfast later and talked story with friends.

“It felt good,” he said, smiling.

Under sunny skies with a little wind, nearly 500 runners and walkers came out for the 15th annual Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run, which included the half marathon, a 10k and a 5K.

Husbands and wives, moms and dads and kids, and plenty of visitors to Kauai participated in the fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Kauai. Some came to race, others came for some exercise, and some were there to enjoy the spirit and camaraderie of fun run.

Locals claimed first in the men’s and women’s division of each race.

Smilie Punzal of Koloa was joined by his two sons, Po’okela and Ka’eo, in the 5K. It was just five years ago that Smilie pushed the two boys in a double stroller through that race — their first together.

Dad was beaming with pride as he talked about his sons running the 5K, on their own, while he ran up ahead.

“They did really well. I’m proud of them,” he said.

He completed his race in 30 minutes and was waiting at the finish when his sons came in at 43 minutes.

“It’s a great family day,” he said.

Po’okela and Ka’eo have taken after their dad. Both enjoyed running and exercising.

Asked if their dad is fast, Po’okela nodded.

“Yeah.”

There are 251 finishers in the 5k. Benjamin Griep of Koloa was the overall winner in 19:35, followed by Henry Scherer of Kalaheo in 20:05.

Robin Jumper of Koloa was first in the women’s division in 23:41.

There were 114 finishers in the 10K, led by Forrest Herring of Lihue in 40:14, following by Greg Beyerlein of Mukilteo, Wash., in 41:44. The second local finisher was Basil Scott of Kapaa in 43:12.

Angie Bestwick of Koloa won the women’s division in 46:29.

There were 116 finishers in the half marathon. Nic Clark of Kalaheo was first overall in 1:23:52, followed by Mary Ernsdorf of Kilauea, second overall in 1:32:25.

Clark, who has won this race several times, said his strategy was simply to “run as fast as I could and hang on.”

The victory, he added, was nice.

“I’m happy,’ he said.

The husband and wife team of Andy and Angie Bestwick of Koloa ran together, start to finish.

“We like running together so why not race together,” said Andy Bestwick, who won the men’s 40-49 age group.

The two met at the College of Southern Idaho in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where both ran track and cross country.

Both have continue to run recreationally. Angie said she went out steady, then tried to pick up the pace, “which is impossible on that course,” she said, laughing.

The first half of the 10K is mostly downhill, while the return is more uphill.

“I worked harder in the second half, that’s for sure,” she said.

Angie said she hasn’t been training that hard, and was just hoping for a good workout Saturday.

The victory, her first on Kauai, was a nice bonus.

“It feels good,” she said.

Andy said his training has been in the range of “seven miles a week, maybe.’

“I just try to keep up with her,” he said. “That’s my goal. She’a lot faster than me.”

Pat Thompson of Kekaha, known as the “Kekaha Walker,” race walked the half marathon and finished in 2:54:07.

He started out relaxed and came on strong, working his way through the field as others struggled in the final stretch.

“The only way I know how to race is, I keep my pace,” Thompson said.

His strategy worked.

“Most of the people I passed had been running to begin with,” he said.

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