Spirited crowd comes out for 38th annual Cook Caper Run

With the finish line in sight, J.J. Bostick charged. A grimace crossed his face as he sprinted the final stretch.

It was worth it.

The Kekaha man, wearing a blue “Lava People” shirt and white visor, completed the 38th annual Captain Cook Caper in 58 minutes flat, a personal best.

“I had to save a little bit for the last,” Bostick said, grinning.

He was one of 61 runners and walkers who finished the 10K, while 128 participated in the 5K and 12 did the 2K on a picture-perfect sunny Saturday morning. Athletes in the longer distances were bused to their starting lines on Kaumualii Highway, then made their way back to the finish at Waimea Plantation Cottages.

While some showed up to run fast, others came to jog, stroll and enjoy the Waimea Town Celebration event with family and friends.

Jacob “Smilie” Punzal ran the 5K with his sons Kaeo and Pookela. The three finished together, holding hands, one son on each side of dad. The celebration at the finish line was full of hugs and tears and joy.

“Today is Kaeo’s last 5K as a 5-year-old,” Smilie Punzal said, noting his youngest son turns 6 Monday.

He proudly pointed out they covered the 3.1-mile course in under 51 minutes. It was their first race — on foot — together. Usually, dad runs while pushing his sons in a double-stroller.

“They ran it themselves,” Punzal said.

“We had a little bit of challenge along the way, but we fought through it and had a great time doing it,” he said.

Jordan Lerma of Hanapepe won the 10K in 34:44. The 23-year-old recently moved to Kauai, where he’s continuing his training for the Boston Marathon in April.

He was pleased to win the Captain Cook Caper Run.

“It was an awesome race,” Lerma said.

Janet Snyder of Kilauea led the women in the 10K, finishing in 47:17.

The Black family from Oakland, California, provided the highlights in the 5K.

Dad Brian topped the men in 18:35, while daughter Maggie, 12, led the women in 20:53 and was third overall. Daughter Ellie, 11, was the second female finisher and eighth overall in 24:45. Mom Beth was second in her age division in 27:03 after being passed in the final mile.

“She got by me right near the end,” Beth said, laughing.

It was Beth Black who saw the “5K” mark on the ground while on a training run. After she learned about the Captain Cook race, the family signed up.

Brian, who runs three to four days a week back home, said he didn’t take the race “super serious.” But the 48-year-old went out fast and ran alone and in front throughout the race.

“Beautiful scenery, a great day for a run,” he said.

Maggie toed the starting line next to her father, but he shot away and she couldn’t quite catch up.

“He’s gotten a bit faster than me over the past few months. But I think I’m catching up to him a little,” she said, smiling at her dad.

Several visitors had more fun than they’d expected.

Canadian Cindy Hansen said she sometimes has a “bad attitude” when running. But Saturday, she vowed to stay positive.

“I promised myself I would feel like a winner if I didn’t stop the last 2 kilometers, and I didn’t,” she said, grinning while giving a high-five to Kauai friend Katherin Reams.

Adriana Ahlin of San Diego said she “absolutely” loved her first race on Kauai. Along the way, she listened to the ocean, birds, horses and dogs.

“You name it, I heard it all,” she said. “I enjoyed it to the max.”

Locals enjoyed the run, too.

Lei Cadiz of Lihue ran the 10K for the first time as part of preparation for the Honolulu Marathon later this year.

“It was a good training run,” she said.

Joyce Vea of Waimea, who finished the 5K, said the scenery and sunshine made for a special morning with friends.

“We walked most of the time, but we had nice spurts of jogging in between,” she said. “We made it in under an hour, which is surprising.”

The Captain Cook Caper Run benefits the Waimea High School track team.

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