In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon, here are quick tidbits that I hope will inspire and remind runners why we run.
Let’s get to it.
Best running movies
1) Endurance. Not a huge hit in the theaters, but this 1999 film about my hero, Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie is brilliant. The opening scene, where he bounds along so effortlessly, is mesmerizing. His race in the 1996 Olympics for the gold medal in the 10,000 meters against Kenyan Paul Tergat is riveting. The film doesn’t get to the 2000 Olympics, but Haile and Tergat face each other again and this time, the race is even closer. Unbelievable. Haile is the man. I love this guy.
2.) UnBreakable. This documentary of the 2010 Western States 100-mile race is so well done, I watch it when I need inspiration. It follows four top distance runners, Hal Koerner, Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka, and Kilian Jornet in a battle over hills, through rivers, on snow and under the sun. The journey, how they got there, is better than the finish. The stories of these men, running and not running, are fascinating.
3.) Saint Ralph. A 2004 film about a boy in a Catholic School. His father died, his mother is in a coma. He vows to win the Boston Marathon in 1954 and earn the miracle to bring his mom out of the coma. It drags a bit early as tells the story of his personal life, but a scene where he runs mile repeats at night makes me want to run mile repeats at night. And when he finally runs the Boston Marathon, and Santa Claus (yes, Santa, I don’t know why) is yelling, “You can do it, Ralph!” I believe he can do it. Spoiler alert: He doesn’t win, but he gets that miracle and his image on the stained glass at church.
Best running books:
1) Once A Runner by John L. Parker. This is considered the classic book on running, published in 1978. It is fiction, but it is real. The struggles, the grind, the pain of a college runner, come across in Parker’s words. And victory was never so good. Every runner should read this.
2.) Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. The author tells of a journey to find the Tarahumara, a tribe of super distance runners, in the Mexican Copper Canyons. They can run fast for hundreds of miles. What’s their secret? While this book is wonderful, start to finish, perhaps the best part is when he recounts “the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen” between distance great Scott Jurek and the Tarahumaras. Read this and you’ll want to run, forever.
3.) Duel in the Sun by John Brant. It beautifully recounts the epic race in the 1982 Boston Marathon between two great runners, Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley. Both men absolutely give it their all on a brutally hot day, conceding nothing to the conditions, the course or each other. And neither, really, was ever the same afterward. On that day, they tried to destroy each other to win. Beardsley refused to let Salazar pass, and Salazar refused to let him get away. It was determination and strength on display.
Best family run
Back home, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, they have something called the Mayor’s Mile before the Fourth of July parade. You run the length of the parade route so your friends can yell at you and it’s your chance in the spotlight. A favorite memory was one year, with about 200 yards to go, my son started to pass me. I reached out with my right hand and shoved him back. It didn’t help. Smiling, he still passed me, this time moving farther away, but it got a lot of laughs from the crowd. One year, my wife and all five of our kids did the Mayor’s Mile. My daughters vowed to never, ever do it again, as did my wife. They were true to their word.
Best place to run
The trails of Glacier National Park in Montana are really only open about two to three months a year. Otherwise, they’re covered with snow or there are too many grizzly bears roaming around. But if you ever get the chance one July, camp at Many Glacier on the east side and run to Iceberg Lake early, like 6 a.m. When you reach the top of the final climb and look down on Iceberg Lake, it is breathtaking.
Best running dog
Our first family dog was a yellow lab named Sandy. She was with us for nearly 14 years. Occasionally, when I would go for long runs when we lived in the country, I would be a few miles from home when I would look back. And there was Sandy, following me from a short distance. I would call her and she would bound up. When we ran, she always, always, had to be in the lead. Drove me crazy. I couldn’t pass her. She refused to let me. But she once saved me from a charging dog in the middle of nowhere. She was brave and loyal and watched over our kids.
Best running shoe ever made
Nike used to make something called the Terra TC. This was way back in the 1980s. It was black and white with the red swoosh. Feather light, cushioned and cool. Phylon midsole was its secret. It was built for speed and I swear I never ran fastest. If a man can love a running shoe, I loved these. Soared to a 2:41:19 marathon in these babies. I’ve never met their equal.
Best running saying
This is an oldie but I remember when my Uncle Frank Urick, grinning and laughing, told me this during one of his many stories he loved to tell: “You don’t have to outrun the grizzly bear. You just have to outrun the person you’re with.”
Best running Bible verse:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” — 2 Timothy 4:7
Best Kauai running moment
There have been many. Mile repeats with my friend Basil Scott on the loop road by the Marriott Resort and Beach Club. Stopping mid-run to watch whales at Ninini Point Lighthouse. Running the Kalalau Trail out and back, 22 miles, in a day. Running from Lihue to Hanalei on my birthday, 31.2 miles, and having a beer at Tahiti Nui to celebrate. Trying to beat Ipo, a wonderful dog we had three years, over the sands at Donkey Beach or along the stream at Anini Beach. She always won. But the best moment came in 2014 in the Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon. Injured, I hobbled through the half. But my son Nick and my daughter Jennifer both ran the full. Nick finished in 3:33 and Jennie, in 4:01. And they made it look easy. Both came in with huge smiles, looking fresh and fast and not the slightest bit tired. That’s the joy of running at its finest.
Come Sunday, whether you’re running the full or the half, my advice is simply this: Enjoy it. Talk to fellow runners. Wave to spectators. Thank volunteers. Look at the scenery. Appreciate the moments. If you do, you will always finish well.
Bill Buley is the editor of The Garden Island. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org