Health and happiness

LIHUE — Patrick Cortez, while working full time for the county, holds a part-time job at the Lihue Airport as a porter. 

Every year when the Kauai Marathon is around the corner, he sees visitors from near and far gather to take part in the running event and it brings him joy to see so many people enjoy being on the island.

“People from all over come to Kauai and run the marathon. When they look at the scenery of Kauai and how beautiful (it is), then they can go back and tell other people,” Cortez said Wednesday. “I’d like more people to come to Kauai.”

He, too, takes part in the Kauai Marathon. He’s completed the 13.1-mile half marathon every year since the event was founded seven years ago. Cortez, who is in his 60s but declined to give his exact age, doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon.

“Hopefully, I can go some more. If you stay healthy, you can do some more,” he said.

Cortez ran for Kauai High School’s track team during his senior year. Sometime in the 1980s, he ran in his first marathon in a local event, which was also named the Kauai Marathon.

“I ran from Vidinha all the way to Kapaa, to Otsuka’s, and come back,” he said. “That was the first one, and nobody (knew about it), only about 200 runners. That was my first marathon.”

He’s been pounding the pavement ever since. Aside from the Kauai Marathon, he also ran in the Great Aloha Run and the Honolulu Marathon on Oahu.

“Honolulu, I stopped already. I used to do Kauai and Honolulu, but it’s a little bit too much. So, I do the Kauai one every year, then I do the Great Aloha Run every year,” Cortez said.

“Running, I don’t know. It just makes my mind relaxed,” he added. “If I don’t run, I feel kind of sluggish. I’m not healthy. When I run, I feel good about my health.”

In addition to running, Cortez also was a karate practitioner and was a teacher for a while.

“Kajukenbo, I did that for about nine to 10 years. Then I went on my own for about five years and taught in my own school,” he said. “Now, I don’t teach anymore.”

Cortez is also a musician and plays in a “one-man band.”

“I play guitar and I sing. I sing oldies and Hawaiian music,” he said. “I played two parties already, by myself.”

For Sunday’s race that begins at 6 a.m. on Poipu Road, Cortez doesn’t have a goal in mind pertaining to a set time. He just wants to take in the sights and do what he loves.

“I just enjoy. No matter what time, slow or fast, I’ll just complete it and I’m happy,” Cortez said. “Just run and enjoy. No need to set a goal. If you got a goal, go for it. You got to work hard. But for me, I just run for my health.’

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