KOLOA — Leo McCarthy came into the Koloa Plantation Days 10K race on Sunday with a strategy: Start nice and relaxed, cruise through the early miles, then pick up the pace and run the second half faster than the first.
“That was the plan,” the Kilauea man said.
The plan worked — and as an added bonus, McCarthy won in 42 minutes and 3 seconds, though he didn’t realize it.
“Are you sure?” he said afterward. “Even if I didn’t, it was wonderful.”
He ran negative splits throughout, with the last mile his fastest.
“That was awesome,” he said, smiling.
About 450 runners and walkers turned out for the annual Koloa Plantation Days Family Fun Run that also included 10-mile, 5K and children’s races, all starting and ending near Poipu Beach Park. The out-and-back courses took runners by the Grand Hyatt Resort, Kukuiula Small Boat Harbor and Spouting Horn.
Athletes were greeted by sunny skies and rapidly rising temperatures as the morning wore on, but plenty of water on the course and some winds helped keep folks cool. When the running was done, most stayed around to enjoy food, drink and conversation, and applaud top finishers when they received medals.
“We had a really good turnout, a really nice day,” said Fran McDonald, race director. “We were worried it was going to be too hot but there was actually a little breeze.”
Chris Gilbert of Los Angeles won the 10-miler in 57:54, well out in front of Jordan Lerma in second in 1:03:58 and Derrick Ledesma in 1:06:34.
Gilbert is on-island for a family vacation, heard about the race a few weeks ago and signed up. He loved the heat and hills.
“It was awesome. A great tour of the island,” he said.
The two-time Ironman runs mostly to stay in shape, he said, but winning Sunday was nice, too.
“I just wanted to get a good workout in,” he said. “Now we’re going to out to Waimea Canyon on our way across the island.”
It was a mother and daughter celebration in the women’s 10-miler, with Lisa Mindel of Los Angeles taking first in 1:20:14, followed by Lily Mindel, a student at the University of Colorado, with 1:23:49.
Lisa said they used to live on Kauai and try to return when they can. They train together, too, and find races to run when on vacation. On Sunday, Lily saw her mom was out in front after the turnaround past Spouting Horn.
“I knew my mom was up there so I wanted to try and get second because I knew my mom was going to blaze in first,” she said.
It was a time for smiles, laughter and hugs as they received their medals. More important than winning, Lisa said, was having her daughter in the same race and both running well.
“It’s so great to see her next to me,” she said.
Kaeo Kruse, one of the state’s top high school runners who will be a senior at Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama this year, won the 5K in 16:20.
It was nice to finish first, he said, especially in a race so close to his home in Kalaheo and an area where he usually trains.
“The main goal was to test where my fitness is right now,” Kruse said. “My legs weren’t used to going that fast of a pace because I’m building base right now, but they responded well.”
Michael Miller, a 2015 Island School graduate, was about a minute back in second place. It will be his final race here for awhile, as he’ll be leaving soon to California Lutheran University, where he plans to run track and cross country.
He, too, ran as more of a test of his fitness level than a desire to win. Still, old habits die hard.
“At the finish I felt great — I could have went harder,” he said, laughing.
Hazel Carr, a high school student from Washington state running in the 13-19 age group, was the first female finisher, crossing 9th overall with a time of 21:21.
It was a family affair and some teamwork in the 10K for the husband-and-wife team of Jack Shirey and Erin Kreitz Shirey of Alameda, Calif. They stayed together for most of the race, with Jack pushing their youngest daughter Finley in her stroller. Erin won the women’s race in 43:52, while Jack was third in the men’s field in 43:40.
Jack tried to chase down the leaders, but the stroller slowed him, just a bit.
“The hard part is on the uphills,” he said.
For Erin, it was a wonderful day with winning just adding to the good times.
“That was so much fun,” Erin said. “I love this race.”