This is my favorite weekend on Kauai because of an unusual double-double of swimming and running. And in case you’re wondering, yes, you still have time to sign up for one or both events. A handful of people, including this writer, have completed both the past two years and will try again this weekend.
Let’s start with the Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge put on by the Namolokama O Hanalei Canoe Club on Saturday. Here are the basics of what you need to know. For adults, there’s a 1,000 meter swim and a 3,000. There’s also a mask/fins/snorkle category, new this year. For kids, categories are 8 and under and 9 to 12. Both keiki courses are short, involve out and back courses. Kids go at 9 a.m., followed by the 3,000 at 9:20 and 1,000 at 9:25. Day-of-swim registration is $15 for kids and $50 for adults. Just head for the Hanalei Pier and you’ll see where to sign in.
OK. Now onto why you should take the plunge and try one of these swims: It’s the only major fundraiser for the canoe club, which does a lot of good community work. This is a great chance to support the efforts of these fine folks. But perhaps an even more enticing reason, if you need one, is the chance to complete a swim competition in Hanalei Bay, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. If you’re worried about being a slow swimmer and aren’t sure you can do this, don’t. I’m a lousy swimmer, have a fear of deep water, worry about sharks, panic easily, and still finish — nearly last, but I finish. We celebrate later at Tahiti Nui. There is help throughout the course if you need it. You’ll be encouraged and cared for by these organizers.
Now, if I survive the swim, then it’s onto Sunday and one of my favorite runs on Kauai, the Koloa Plantation Days Family Fun Run hosted by Kukui‘ula Outrigger Canoe Club.
Here are the basics: There’s a one-mile keiki run, 5K, 10K and 10-mile runs. The 5K and 10K go at 7:30 a.m., the 10-mile run at 7 a.m., the 10-mile walk at 6:30 a.m., and the one-mile keiki run at 9 a.m. The starting line is near Poipu Beach Park. Registration for the keiki mile is $15. For the longer races, individuals cost $30. If you register after 5 p.m. Friday, add $5.
So, why try this? Well, it’s the final day of Koloa Plantation Days, so this is your chance to participate in an event that honors Kauai’s history.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kauai. It’s also nice because it’s generally sunny on the South Shore and there’s a terrific celebration when it’s all over, with food and awards.
People are in good spirits. And finally, the courses are generally flat, so a good chance to set a PR. Even the 10 miler has only a few inclines that aren’t all that steep. And best, there’s a wonderful, downhill finish that allows everyone to show off with a burst of speed.
While I love this race and will be at the starting line, it’s been a bit of bane. Last year, I felt awful at the start of the 10 miler, had zero energy, and struggled throughout. It was ugly. Enough said.
The year before was my one and only DNF out of hundreds of road races. I had been battling a bad hamstring, thought it would be OK. But it popped less than a half-mile into the run. After limping along a bit to see if I could shake it out, I called it a day before I did serious damage and hobbled in.
Better was the 2013 Koloa Plantation Days 10 miler, which I consider one of my best races. Felt like I could fly the final miles. One of those days all runners hope for, when you feel strong, fit and fast, like you could go on and on, and actually run that way. Ah, it was a glorious run and I remembered it fondly.
I hope to see you at the starting lines. Saturday for swimming, Sunday for running. Let’s have double the fun.
Bill Buley is editor-in-chief of The Garden Island. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org