As the runner approached on the other side of Kaumualii Highway, “Not Fast But Furious” did all it could to inspire him.
“Rocky, looking good.”
Rocky Maniago, holding a strong, steady pace, smiled and waved as he continued on. He was wearing long shorts, carrying a water bottle, wearing sunglasses and sweating. He did not speak. No time for idle chatter. Other runners, more teams, were out there.
Catch them or be caught.
Maniago wasn’t actually even a team member, but jumped in to run a leg and give others a break.
And so it went in the Divas and Dues “End to End Relay Run” on July 2. Five teams of three to four runners started at 6:15 a.m. at Ke’e Beach and set out for MacArthur Park in Kekaha.
That’s 70 miles.
That’s 70 miles on a hot, humid, sunny day.
That’s 70 miles, many of them next to cars zipping along at 50 to 60 mph.
At the end of those 70 miles, when the last team finished about 5:30, nearly 11 hours later, it was time to party. Well, as much eating and drinking as you can do when you’re bone weary and beat up from running up and down and around Kauai.
They were sore, for sure, but no injuries.
“It went very well,” said Lisa Ledesma, one of the organizers who also ran with a team.
Already, many have said they want to do it again. And those who didn’t, said they want to be part of it next year.
Ledesma posted an invitation to the race on the Divas and Dudes Facebook page. She was expecting maybe 10 to 15 runners, but got 20 to 25 who ran 15 to 25 miles each.
All got more than they bargained for — medals and food at the finish line, and plenty of memories of a race well run.
Ledesma said there will likely be a 2018 version of the relay.
“Maybe we’ll make it longer,” she said.
The End to End Relay Run did not stick to Kuhio and Kaumualli highways to avoid some areas with treacherous traffic.
A turnoff on Kalihiwai Road required a stream crossing.
At Kuamoo, they took the bypass dirt road behind the jail until Hanamaulu.
Another turn took them on the road through the Marriott Resort in Lihue.
They also hoofed it on Kipu Road, which while a scenic route, is a stretch with no real road shoulders but less traffic.
Nancy Andrade ran the first leg, seven miles, from Ke’e to the Waioli Huiia Church in Hanalei.
That felt fine in a scenic, shaded section with only a few cars out that early. Later in the day, with a many more miles behind her, it wasn’t quite so much fun, but she pushed on.
“It felt like a marathon after the first leg,” she said. “You feel good now, because you recover between runs. Once you’re recovered, you’re ready to do it again.”
Hilda Miyashiro was next and covered five miles to the Princeville Airport before handing off to Trish Bratton, who said running was the best part.
“And in between, you think, ‘This is crazy,’” she said, laughing.
Brattton make it five miles to Koolau Road, when Edmund Battulayan took over for the next six miles to the Anahola store.
She said by this time, there were plenty of vehicles, but drivers gave them their space.
Battulayan wasn’t goofing around. When it was his turn to run, he charged hard.
“I guess I’m the best runner, so I have to catch up,” he said.
“We needed his speed,” Andrade said.
Jim Benkert was going to run the relay, but an injury sidelined him. So, he followed along as a volunteer with vehicle and bicycle.
“I figured I’d just be out here, why not be part of this,” he said. “It’s a pretty neat thing.”
During stops, runners drank water, apple juice, cola, and sports drink, and ate chips, watermelon, bananas and energy bars.
Back on the road, some really were racing because they wanted to finish first — though this was just for fun — while others were willing to stop and chat with the media.
April McDavid zipped through Kalaheo, despite already having 13 miles under her shoes. She enjoyed being part of the relay, despite the late afternoon heat.
“It’s just cool to go around the whole island,” she said before running off, next to a stream of traffic.
Another relay runner, Leigh Feutz, was resting near Kauai Coffee Company before taking on her third relay leg of the day.
“It’s a lot of fun. Everyone is pulling their part, it’s incredibly supportive,” she said.
One drawback, the conditions. The temperature was in the 80s, with high humidity. It began to suck the strength from everyone.
“I’m not used to running in in this kind of heat,” she said.
But that didn’t stop her from continuing on, a minute later.
“It’s my turn,” she said.
At that same exchange waited Clifford Mission, another organizer and runner.
“I’m on a mission,” he joked.
The relay was something he mentioned to Ledesma a few years back. They worked out the logistics, drove the course, set the safest route and checkpoints, and finally, decided to just do it.
Mission was all smiles, even with the finish line another 15 miles away.
“I met new friends,” he said, then added, “this is what we do on our day off.”