Six months ago, Renato Desouza set a goal: Win the Haena to Hanalei 8 Mile Run.
So he ran. And he biked. And he swam. In short, he worked his butt off.
And on Saturday, he won.
The 42-year-old from Puhi led a field of 315 runners to take first place in the 35th annual Haena to Hanalei 8 miler. Despite hot and humid conditions and a tough, hilly course, he crossed the finish line in 47 minutes, 21 seconds.
“It didn’t come easy,” he said as he relaxed after the race. “I put the work into it. I knew Nic (Clark) was going to be here and he’s tough to beat.”
The two broke away from the pack shortly after the race started at Kee Beach. They stayed close through the early miles until Desouza pulled away on the hills near the four-mile mark.
“I’m a little faster on the uphills,” Desouza said. “I just slowly picked up the pace.”
He stretched his lead on the downhills and final flat miles to the finish line near Black Pot Beach Park.
“I knew I had it. It was under control,” he said. “I knew if he picked up the pace I could pick up the pace.”
Clark placed second in 47:56.
He said his legs “were kind of marshmallows” on the hills, due in part to a Wednesday workout that included a lot of lunges.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he said, smiling. “My legs were so sore today.”
Tiare Welborn of Haena surprised herself as she led the women’s field.
“I did not even expect to win,” she said, smiling. “I was just running and someone said, ‘You’re the first girl.’”
Welborn has competed in the race before, but always with friends. This was the first time she ran alone and it paid off, as she posted the winning time of 57:16.
The 21-year-old had about two miles to go when she realized she had the lead.
“I thought I better hurry up,” she said.
A nervous Welborn looked back a few times and was relieved to see no other women were within sight. And when she finished, well, it was “awesome.”
“I feel super happy,” she said.
Connie Lutkevich of Kalaheo was second in 58:29.
Conditions couldn’t have been much better for the popular event put on by the Hanalei Canoe Club. Sunny, blue skies greeted runners and walkers, and for the first time in the 35-year history of the race, Kuhio Highway was closed to traffic.
All told, there were 495 eight-mile run/walk finishers, 125 in the 5K and 51 in the one-mile youth run.
While some came to test their limits, others were out to enjoy the views of the ocean and have a fun morning.
Mary Pixler of Wailua and friend Dottie Lentini from Pennsylvania were grinning, holding hands and waving their arms as they closed in on the finish line.
“One of us was happy,” Pixler said, laughing.
When Lentini began to tire down the stretch, Pixler rallied the crowd to cheer for her.
“I had the crowd yelling, ‘Run, Dottie, run,’” Pixler said.
Lentini’s spirits rose as she picked up the pace and joined her pal for one, final charge.
“The last half mile is the worse,” she said as she recovered.
Dawson Okinaka of Lawai talked about finishing in an hour and 20 minutes before the race. He ended up completing the course in 58:25 and taking third in his age division.
Things, he said, went awesome as he got stronger as the race went on.
“I just tried to pace myself in the beginning and make sure I could get through those hills,” he said. “The competition was good, and that kept me working harder, that’s for sure.”
Walkers had a good day, too.
Judy Byfield of Kealia covered the course in 1:42:10, while friend Brigitte Carreau of Kappa came in 27 seconds later. The two celebrated with a hug. Both were delighted there was no traffic on the highway so they didn’t have to watch out for cars.
“It was fantastic,” Carreau said.
“I did really good this year,” Byfield said, “so I’m really happy about that.”
Yvette Lavigne from Los Angeles, a longtime crowd favorite, returned to claim fifth overall in the eight-mile walk and first in the 70-79 age division.
“I’m glad my knee held up,” she said. “Anytime I can finish a race, I am feeling good.”
Desouza, who is a frequent top five finisher in local races and age division winner, said this was his first overall win on Kauai.
He enjoyed the moment, beaming as he chatted with friends afterward and accepted congratulations.
It was important, he said, to win.
“It’s for me. I’m a competitor. I’ve always been,” he said. “I always see winning on the horizon.”
So how did that Haena to Hanalei win feel Saturday?
“It feels amazing,” he said.
8 mile run
1. Tiare Welborn, Hanelei, 57:16
2. Connie Lutkevich, Kalaheo, 58:29
3. Angela Bestwick, Kapaa, 1:01:30
4. Heidi Herr, Kalaheo, 1:01:57
5. Kathryn Pearson, Boise, Idaho, 1:02:04
6. Sydney Brady, Lihue, 1:03:23
7. Lindsay Faye, Koloa, 1:03:44
8. Kalhe Rushing, La Canada, Calif., 1:03:51
9. Emily Larocque, Kekaha, 1:04:13
10. Natsuko Nishikawa, Kapaa, 1:05:14
11. Lauren Hunt, Lihue, 1:05:36
12. Leigh Hicks, Anahola, 1:05:50
13. Kathleen Ortiz, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1:06:01
14. Jennifer Hills, Lakewood, Colorado, 1:06:14
15. Johnny Paleracio, Hanapepe, 1:06:17
16. Lauren Denton, Koloa, 1:07:33
17. Kasey Ozaki, Hanapepe, 1:07:36
18. Lauren Pingree, Princeville, 1:07:52
19. Jill Caisey, Kapaa, 1:08:00
20. April McDavid, 1:08:23
1. Renato Desouza, Lihue, 47:21
2. Nic Clark, Kalaheo, 47:56
3. Derrick Ledesma, Koloa, 52:54
4. Chaz Pacleb, Kapaa, 53:23
5. Troy Keipper, Kapaa, 53:39
6. Curtis Neck, Hilo, 53:55
7. Jim McDougall, Kapaa, 54:05
8. Basil Scott, Kapaa, 54:27
9. Todd Hadley, Kalaheo, 54:38
10. Jim Falconer, Anchorage, Alaska, 55:19
11. James Flicpera, Anahola, 55:24
12. Kevin Carel, Roanoke, 55:32
13. Bill Buley, Lihue, 55:56
14. Jonathan Martin, Kilauea, 56:15
15. Richard Powers, Wilton, Calif., 56:26
16. William Summerhays, Kalaheo, 56:52
17. Spencer Smith, Kalaheo, 56:59
18. Steven Walter, Oakridge, Oregon, 57:11
19. Keoni Kahn Macko, Kapaa, 57:15
20. Edmon Battulayan, Kalaheo, 57:32
1. Megan lee, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 22:43
2. Leah Boente-Hulcher, Springfield, Illinois, 23:14
3. Janet Snyder, Kilauea, 24:08
4. Kelsea Armstrong, Princeville, 24:46
5. Kelsey Garcia, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, 25:23
6. Emily Rogers, Rockford, Michigan, 25:48
7. Michelle Thomas, Princeville, 26:04
8. Julie Boente, Carlinville, Illinois, 26:31
9. Maggie Warner, Park City, Utah, 26:48
10. Malina Dwight, Kapaa, 27:26
1. Michael Miller, Lihue, 19:11
2. Derek Montoya, New Mexico, 23:46
3. Jeremy Herr, Kalaheo, 24:47
4. Chance Porter, Silver City, New Mexico, 25:23
5. Kai Mertz, Princeville, 25:24
6. Mark Kappelhoff, Minneapolis, Minn., 25:28
7. Nick Canepa, Round Rock, Texas, 25:32
8. John Proctor, Grand Rapids, Mich., 25:47
9. Spencer Summerhays, Kalaheo, 26:00
10. Lance Hoshiko, Colorado, 26:01