Are you in the mood to run?
The 10th annual Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon set for Sept. 2 is a little more than six weeks away. While you still have time to whip yourself into shape for the half marathon, 13.1 miles, forget about it if you haven’t been in training for the full 26.2 miles. That’s an entirely different beast, particularly with this Kauai Marathon course of so many hills, long and short, as the course winds through Lawai and Kalaheo. Those hills just suck the life out of your legs and can turn a long day into an even longer day. I know. I’ve been there.
All that said, registration is up nearly 20 percent for this year’s races, with 315 signed on for the full, and 1,504 registered for the half. That more people are planning to run is a testament to the organization and quality of this event founded and owned by Jeff Sacchini, who also co-owns and operates Living Foods Market and The Lanai restaurant at The Shops at Kukuiula. The aid on the course, the support, the finisher medals, the aloha, and the food and drink afterward, are top-notch. It really is a commitment to creating the best experience for runners and walkers. And, perhaps best of all since that first marathon 2009, more than $100,000 of the proceeds have gone to nonprofit groups and charities on Kauai.
Kauai is fortunate to have a marathon of such caliber. As Sacchini has told me, Kauai residents don’t have to leave the island to compete in what really is a world-class race. It’s all right here, with the start and finish in Poipu. This event deserves all the community support we can give it.
This will be my fifth full marathon on Kauai, with one half marathon a year I was injured. I am worried this is going to be a painfully slow marathon. My training just hasn’t been what it needs to be to do well here. And it could be that I’m just getting old. Well, I am old. Still, I’m hoping that a solid five weeks of training from this point can help me sneak through in under four hours — though hoping to sneak through a marathon is just a lousy idea.
In my recent training here, I’ve had some strange encounters with pedestrians and drivers.
Not long ago, I was near Kealia Beach when I heard a woman shouting angrily. She walked out ahead of me on Ke Ala Hele Makalae and deciding I should be cheery, I gave her a smile and said, “Good morning.”
She wasn’t having it.
The woman glared at me, then shouted, “Creeper.”
OK, no big deal. But I was at the point on this run where I turn around and head back to Kapaa Beach Park. And this meant I had to run past the woman again. I swung out far left and tried to be invisible. It didn’t work. The last I heard, she was still shouting swear words in my direction.
Then, just recently, I was again on Ke Ala Hele Makalae, near the public pool and passing the parking lot where vehicles leave and for a short distance, must drive on the path, coming and going. The driver of a truck about to pull out looked at me and promptly swung out as far right as he could to force me off the path. Annoyed, I sprinted on the shoulder, got ahead and pulled back on the path — directly in front of the truck — which was really stupid since this was the same guy who just tried to run me off the path. Fortunately he showed more sense and I. Instead of running me over, he slowed down and conceded my victory.
Runners must make drivers angry. Near Fuji Beach, also known as Baby Beach, I was approaching the crosswalk about the same time a truck approaching from the opposite direction was pulling up and signaling a left turn. Instead of waiting for me, the driver gunned it, took a hard left and cut me off, then suddenly slowed, I guess to make me stop. It worked.
Another time, running on the shoulder of Kuhio Highway against the traffic so I could keep an eye on things better, an oncoming driver swerved directly toward me, I swear he smiled, then pulled back on highway.
Once, walking on the shoulder of the road on Lehua Street after a run, a car suddenly swerved over directly in front of me, and just stopped. Damnedest thing. I have no idea what that was about.
There was a nice encounter. Running past Kealia Beach, I saw some cash and credit cards on the path bunched together. And just off the path were some visitors taking pictures. I stopped. “Excuse me. Is this yours?” I asked, pointing to the bills and plastic.
The woman looked down. “Oh, yes. Thank you so much,” she said, as she bent down to pick everything up.
I hope it was hers.
Ah, well. It will all be worth it when I cross that Kauai Marathon finish line on Sept. 2.
That’s assuming I actually reach the finish line.
And that’s assuming I don’t make more drivers mad.
Bill Buley is editor of The Garden Island. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org