By the time Alex and Ian Sheshunoff reached the finish line of Saturday’s Roots ‘n Shoots Fun Run, almost everyone else was done and enjoying their free breakfast, listening to music and trying on their T-shirts.
But this race had nothing to do with trying to go fast for the father and son from Ojai, California. This was all about a leisurely stroll through stunning scenery and soaking in the surroundings of the National Tropical Botanical Garden.
“He’s a budding botanist,” a smiling Alex Sheshunoff said of 8-year-old Ian. “A 3-mile walk through a botanical garden with a budding botanist takes a long time.”
So what did they think?
“It’s such a great way to see such a beautiful place,” Alex said. “My wife’s done a lot of runs. She said it’s the best 5K she’s ever done.”
Many others seemed to feel the same when it came to expressing their views of the second Roots ‘n Shoots at NTBG.
“The course is probably the most beautiful course you could imagine,” said Nancy Budd. “It’s absolutely stunning. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to have access to parts of the garden you ordinarily don’t have access to.”
About 400 runners and walkers, kids to adults wound their way through the majestic 3.1-mile course that featured the Allerton and McBryde gardens, towering rainforest trees, swaying golden bamboo and tropical fruit trees.
It included the Biodiversity Trail, which is a winding 800-foot path designed to tell the story of plant evolution over the last 450 million years.
It followed the Lawai Stream, crossing a footbridge with an oceanview and garden statues.
It included the enormous roots of the Moreton Bay Fig trees made famous in the movie, “Jurassic Park.”
Terry Taylor of Kalaheo, a Roots ‘n Shoots finisher, loved it.
“My day went fantastic,” he said. “This course is the most beautiful course you could run anywhere on Kauai.”
The fundraiser race was put on by the Kauai Marathon and NTBG. Two $500 scholarships were presented to two Kauai High seniors and runners, Mikayla Domingo and Anaiah Christensen.
Domingo, who ran cross country for three years and was co-captain this year, plans to attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, and major in political science with hopes to become an attorney.
Christensen, who ran track three years, plans to attend Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, and begin studies toward becoming a physical therapist.
“The applause really goes to the botanical gardens,” Kauai Marathon founder Jeff Sacchini said during the award presentations. “To be able to provide a venue like this for a 5K is world class. I’d go so far to say this is one of the prettiest 5Ks you could run anywhere in the world.”
Dustin and Krista Wolkis of Waimea completed the 5K with son Canyon, who turns 2 in a few weeks.
“It’s his first race ever,” said Dustin, who manages the NTBG seed bank laboratory.
They carried Canyon and held his hands as he walked and ran a little, too.
“We’re just excited to be out here and happy to be sharing the day with so many lovely people,” Dustin said.