PUHI — The sizes of the other runners may have made him question his decision to run in his first race.
But this run is in his blood, literally and figuratively, and Kekoa Kimata-Lopez, 5, got a lot of encouragement from his mother Janis Kimata-Lopez, before the start of the East Kauai Y’s Men/YMCA 23rd annual Youth Run, Saturday on the grounds of Kilohana Plantation in Puhi.
The annual event is hosted by volunteers from the Kauai YMCA and East Kauai Y’s Men Club.
“That’s how I started,” Janis Kimata-Lopez said. “My first race was the youth run, and it was Donna Schulze who encouraged me to enter and run. I don’t know how long ago that was, but I remember the race being in Koloa.”
Janis Kimata-Lopez went on to star in the Waimea High School long-distance running programs before graduating, and, even after college, continued to be a strong participant in races, and advocate for running.
“I was worried about the weather,” Tom Tannery of the Kauai YMCA said while juggling between registration lists and course layouts.
“It was blowing pretty bad yesterday, and I thought we might have to cancel, but this morning is nice.”
“The weather was perfect,” George Schulze said. “Just a tad of rain.”
The weather was ideal for running, with little wind, and just a hint of a possible shower, as Kaua’i High School freshman Tara McCoy surveyed the field, apprehensive that she might be the only one in her age group.
McCoy had her distance coach with her, and he told her not to worry about being the only one in her age group, because when the older students graduate, she’ll be the only one in the lead position.
In the fall, McCoy was consistently one of the top-10 finishers for the Kaua’i High School cross-country team, and was using the youth fun run as part of her workout for the upcoming Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation track season, she said.
Over 60 runners ages 2 through 17 came out with their parents. “They must’ve all waited to see how the weather was going to turn out,” Donna Schulze said, pleased with the strong turnout for the event.
“I don’t know how long I’ve been coming to these events, but in the pre-event publicity photo, Mariah is in the foreground, and she’s now 23,” Donna Farley said while her brood of runners queued at the registration table.
Several of the Farley children finished strong, one being the first overall female finisher in the one-mile portion. Alana Farley finished the course in 8:39. The top overall male finisher was Jonah Stokes, who crossed the finish line at 7:33.
Pierce Murphy blazed through the two-mile course to finish first overall at 10:58, a time that Tannery described as pretty good for the 12-year-old runner.
Sarah Faraola, who held a lead over McCoy in the final stretch, crossed as the first overall female finisher in the two-mile course, at 14:56.
Another strong finisher in the age-13 group was ‘Iniki, a running dog owned by Donna Schulze. ‘Iniki yelped and tugged throughout the registration period, eager to start the run, and Donna Schulze’s arena of responsibility was expanded to search out an attendant to run with ‘Iniki.
First- and second-place ribbons were also distributed to leaders in each of the age groups.
Through the generosity of numerous community donors, all participants received prizes and post-run refreshments.
Faraola and Michelle LaMadrid, a second-place finisher in the age-11 girls’ group, were the winners of the two bicycles given away through random drawings.
- Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com.