Early in the Koloa Plantation Days 10K run, Bill McNary was, much to his surprise, leading the pack.
“In the beginning, no one was around me,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is weird.’”
Things soon returned to normal.
Chelsea Smith-Wishard, a Kauai High School graduate and winner of this year’s women’s division of the Haena to Hanalei 8 mile race, zipped past McNary on her way to first place. The Bethesda, Maryland, man held tough and followed her 90 seconds later across the finish line.
“She blew by me,” said the 42-year-old McNary, who is on Kauai celebrating his 10th anniversary with wife Rosemary, but had to catch a plane home Sunday night.
While it felt great to get another win, Smith-Wishard said her training hasn’t been at the level she likes and she had to work hard in the heat to stay in front.
“I haven’t really been doing any speedwork since Haena or any of my long distance runs,” she said.
It’s not like she’s been eating ice cream and watching movies, though. When asked what she’s been doing, Smith-Wishard said, “just running.”
It was a good day for running Sunday in the Koloa Plantation Days 10K, 5K, 10 miler or the keiki run. About 400 runners dashed through one of the three distances on a hot, humid morning. The runs are put on as a fundraiser by the Kukuiula Outrigger Canoe Club. Participants were treated to food and drinks afterward and the top men and women in each race received medals.
Smilie Punzel, who competed in the Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge 1,000 meter race on Saturday, turned his attention to running Sunday. It was no problem for the Koloa man to switch from the ocean one day to the roads the next.
“Using different body parts. Today’s not upper body. Today’s more of my legs,” he said.
Punzel capped his race with a furious sprint over the final yards.
“I had to use the restroom. That’s why,” he said, smiling.
Ryan Perez of Poipu defended his 5K title, cruising in well ahead of the field in 17 minutes and around 25 seconds. The 19-year-old also won the Haena to Hanalei 8 miler this year.
“I might of went out a little fast. I was kind of expecting someone to be up there with me,” the 19-year-old said. “This year, there wasn’t, so it was kind of hard doing it on my own.”
But despite the heat and no cooling breeze, the 2012 Island School graduate held pace with little problem.
“I was expecting a faster time,” Perez said. “I’m happy with winning it.”
The women’s 5K field was led by Lauren Lipski of Colorado. Like other runners who visit Kauai, she looked for a race and found Plantation Days. She said it was hot and humid, but she felt strong as she covered the course in just under 20 minutes.
“It’s exciting,” she said of taking first place. “It’s really exciting.”
In the 10 miler, Island School graduate and state champion Pierce Murphy defended his title, crossing just ahead of Connor Winter, roommate and fellow runner at the University of Colorado. The two ran strong together and finished in about an hour, far in front of the field. They weren’t racing.
“We stayed together, used it as a nice, fast-paced training run,” Murphy said. “It’s nice to be out there with other people.”
Winter said they ran a controlled race.
“I wouldn’t say easy,” he said just before the two headed out to get in a few more miles.
Mary Castelanelli of Kilauea won the women’s division, finishing in about an hour and 9 minutes. It wasn’t really a race for her either, as she used it more of a tuneup for the upcoming Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Canada.
“It told me where my fitness level was at, which was alarming,” she said. “I’ve got some stuff to work out.”
Still, she was smiling afterward, taking first in her first try at the Plantation Days 10 miler.
“It always feels good to win,” Castelanelli said.