There are scenic runs. And then, there was the first Roots ‘n Shoot fun run at the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Saturday.
It was, in a word repeated often by the 320 runners who covered the 5K course, beautiful.
“I loved the scenery,” said Melani Harker. “I was just taken back.”
Her friend, Chandra Porter, called it “serene.”
“I felt like the energy of the land was pushing me along,” she said.
Runners and walkers shared a sunny, warm morning as they navigated their way past towering rainforest trees, a grove of swaying golden bamboo, tropical fruit trees, across a bridge with an ocean view, alongside the Lawai Stream and past the famous Morton Bay fig trees that were used in a scene for the film, “Jurassic Park.”
The inaugural untimed event began near the Biodiversity Trail and took kids and adults through Allerton and McBryde gardens. It was the result of a conversation held four months ago between Andy Jasper, director of the South Shore Gardens, and Jeff Sacchini, founder of The Kauai Marathon.
“Let’s do something fun,” Jasper said.
So they did.
Not only was Roots ‘n Shoots one of the most gorgeous 5Ks in the country and gave residents and visitors a chance to see the gardens, proceeds benefited the Kauai Marathon youth running program, provided two $500 scholarships, and will go toward putting on the popular marathon scheduled Sept. 6.
Tyler McCandless, three-time winner of the Kauai Marathon, was there, too, enjoying the scenery and taking it easy as he’s preparing for the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 3, which he’s hoping to win.
“It’s one of the beautiful courses I’ve ever run,” the Boulder, Colorado, man said. “This run through the gardens, you can’t beat that. It’s like prehistoric.”
Renato DeSouza, the first finisher who timed his finish at 17 minutes, 42 seconds, said it was “awesome.”
“Just happy to be here,” he said.
Roots ‘n Shoots was Brian Webb’s first race.
“I’ve always wanted to see this park. This is a wonderful introduction,” he said. “It couldn’t have been a better day or more beautiful location.”
After the run, participants enjoyed a complimentary continental breakfast sponsored by Living Foods Gourmet Market and Cafe along with coffee provided by Kauai Coffee Company. There were prize drawings and a silent auction. The two $500 scholarships were presented to Charles Samuel, a senior at Kauai High, and Ally Pascual, an Island School senior.
Jiah Yim summed things up nicely: ”It’s the most beautiful course I’ve ever run.”