Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of feature stories on Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon participants leading up to the Sept. 6 race.
Age, as they say, is nothing but a number.
Just ask Poipu’s Mathea Allansmith, who, at 85, is galloping through her golden years.
Allansmith will be participating in the Kauai Half Marathon Sept. 6 to not only satisfy her own goals, but inspire others who may see age or other obstacles as a physical deterrent.
“I feel that that’s my mission — to show that someone 80-plus, 90-plus, or for however long I get to do the races, can do the race,” Allansmith said. “They can enter the race, be part of it, enjoy it and finish the race and get a medal, get a plate. You don’t have to stop your racing, your road racing, when you’re in your 40s or 50s.”
Allansmith has participated in the Kauai Half Marathon every year since the Poipu event was established seven years ago.
“They even give us this little disc when we run it every year,” she said. “It means they recognize that I’m very loyal to that race, and that means a lot to me. And I think it means a lot to them that those of us from Kauai are very loyal to that race. We’re not just going to run it, scoop all the goodies and leave. We’re loyal to doing that race. That’s what it means to me.”
Five years ago, she even put her own mark on the marathon when she asked race founder Jeff Sacchini to create an 80-plus division. She hopes the event will eventually establish an 85-plus division as well.
“Once I turned 80, I asked him to make an 80-plus. I see him on the road as he’s running and I’m running. We both run on the same route,” Allansmith said. “He said, ‘OK.’ And so, he did it. So, it’s been 80-plus, and I’ll probably ask him to raise it to make it 85-plus since I’m 85 this year. He’s very accommodating.”
Allansmith, originally from Boston, started running 38 years ago and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
“It’s important to race. It’s important to exercise and have a goal at all ages. That’s good. It keeps you young, keeps you active and keeps you happy,” she said. “My job is being as healthy, as active and a participant. That’s my gift — being able to run those races. That’s what I like.”
Allansmith prefers power walking these days, but stays active because taking part in marathons gives her joy like no other.
“When I’m out there racing, I’m happy. It’s just wonderful,” she said. “People are yelling. I’m yelling. Participants are yelling. We’re all a family for that day. We’re all a family and we’re running together. We’re all participating. It’s extremely exciting. Where can you get that?”
Allansmith added that she’s raced in numerous events over the years and the Kauai Marathon is the best. But by no means is it a breeze.
“This race is one of the hardest races in the United States,” she said. “It has the three H’s: heat, humidity and hills.”
Despite the physical toll it can take, overall it’s a great event, she said.
“It’s an excellent race because it’s very good quality,” Allansmith said. “The mile markers are big and plain, and they’re placed every mile. That’s really good. They have a lot of entertainment that they’ve recruited.”
She knows what to expect out on the course.
After the moderate start, the second half inclines in Kalaheo are brutal. If she can get through that, as she has in the previous years, she knows what’s waiting for her — for everyone actually, regardless of age division.
“When you come through, you get these marvelous, good-quality medals,” she said. “The food spread afterwards is great.”