Marathon makes its mark on Kauai

Numbers never tell you the whole story, but they can paint a pretty good picture of what’s going on. Such is the case of the Kauai Marathon. The sixth annual event on Sunday set a record this year with 1,830 participants in the marathon, 26.2 miles, and the half marathon, 13.1 miles. There were 651 Kauai residents, also a record. Runners came from 16 countries and 43 states. In its six years, the economic impact of the marathon is estimated at $15 million. And contributions to local nonprofits have topped $80,000.

Those are some impressive numbers.

But, as we said, numbers can’t tell the whole story. For that, you had see some of the runners at the start, on the course and best of all, at the finish line. There were people running to raise money to fight cancer and multiple sclerosis. There were people running to raise money for youth programs. There were people running for their health. There were friendly bets between friends on who would be first across the finish line. There were relatives running side by side. There were moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles sharing their journeys as they made their way up the climb of the Tunnel of Trees.

The performance of Nicole Chyr, too, can’t be overstated. The Colorado woman became the first woman to be the overall winner of the marathon with an amazing performance on a hot, humid day. And even though three-time Kauai Marathon winner Tyler McCandless didn’t get the half marathon mark he was after, just missing his goal of one hour, 5 minutes with a 1:07 performance, he still won, he still set a course record, and best of all, his energy and passion for the sport, and fitness overall, will pay dividends with Kauai’s youth for years to come.

Kudos, too, to Kauai’s top finishers, Derrick Ledesma and Jennifer Tone for the marathon and Joseph Kali and Brooke Sugahara for the half marathon. You ran strong and represented this island with endurance, strength and speed. We take pride in your efforts.

And we would absolutely be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out to the volunteers who handed out water and sports drinks on the course, played music, danced and handled many other tasks that make the marathon such a success.

We also can’t say enough about the people who came out of their homes, stood by the roadside and offered encouraging words and applause to weary runners. The people of Poipu, Omao, Kalaheo and Lawai might not know it, but they made a difference that day. Their support truly saw many marathoners finish the race.

The Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon has become one of this island’s gems. More than 1,000 visitors came to the island for this race, and here’s what just a few had to say:

• “Kauai is magic and I knew 4 years ago I’d be back to run my 50th state marathon there. It’s hot, it’s humid and its amazingly hilly BUT totally do-able. You’ll have to think a little more about nutrition and hydration and run smart once the sun is up and keeping your body temp down is no problem with aid stations every mile and the volunteers are happy to give you an ‘ice bath’ and you’ll need it!!! The scenery is spectacular, the volunteers are wonderful, there are medical units at several locations, and lots of folks on Vespas up and down the course checking on the runners and there are many more half marathoners than marathoners so once they veer off, the crowd thins out. The finish line goodies are great and there are outdoor showers and a pretty big ocean where you can cool off!!”

• “This was my third full marathon, fifth if you count two ultramarathons, I ran it yesterday after having run the Kauai Half in 2012. The hills were grueling, challenging, and downright brutal … but the views, the beauty, and the support made it more tolerable. The support rivals that of Honolulu marathon (but without the crazy crowd) and the views … they are the best. This was well organized, plenty of aid, and just amazing. Beware, it gets HOT!!! Wish it would start at 5 instead of 6. That is my only complaint. And for all of you considering just running the half … you are missing out on the real beauty of this course! Do the full if you can!

• 2014 was my first time running this half marathon. Yes, it was humid and hilly, but the beauty completely made up for it! The organizers were awesome and the event was VERY well-run. And the merchandise was super cute! I came in third in my age group and I just love my little plate!”

Congratulations to race director Bob Craver and race founder Jeff Sacchini for putting together another outstanding race. Great marathons, like great marathon performances, don’t happen with luck. It takes drive, hard work, commitment, an ability to see the big picture and also take care of the details.

Here’s to seeing you at the starting line in 2015.

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