350 runners take to the streets

POIPU — When Tereza Pacol injured her right ankle Thursday night while training at Au’rai Fitness in Lihue, it seemed she might not be able to run in Sunday’s Koloa Plantation Days Family Fun Run 5K.

But she quickly adapted.

“Even though I hurt myself, I was still going to run,” she said.

Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Pacol used crutches and hobbled through the 3.1-mile race in 50 minutes and 21 seconds. At the finish, she was beaming, along with her pals from Au’rai Fitness led by Smilie Punzal.

Finishing was sweet, and for Pacol, never in doubt.

“Not once did I think, ‘I’m going to cancel,’” she said. “I knew I could do it.”

Her determination was one of the highlights of the 10th anniversary of the Koloa Plantation Days Family Fun Run that featured the 5K along with a 10K, 10 miler and a one-mile keiki run.

About 350 runners completed the races that started and ended at Poipu Beach Park on a hot and humid, sunny morning.

The runs are put on as a fundraiser by the Kukuiula Outrigger Canoe Club.

Participants were treated to food and drinks afterward, and the top men and women in each race received medals.

One of those medals went to Alex Dutcher, who won the 10 miler in 1:09:09. The Koloa woman outlasted a group of men running with her and pulled away in the final miles in the toughest part of the course — overcoming heat, hills and headwinds.

Dutcher started the race at a seven-minute-per-mile pace just to see who stayed with her. Only a handful did.

“We cruised out with the wind at our backs,” she said. “When we turned around, it was really hot with the wind in our faces. Everyone else kind of dropped back. I just tried to hold my pace and it worked out pretty well.”

Dutcher, who also won the women’s field of the Haena to Hanalei eight-mile run in June, only signed up for Sunday’s Plantation Days race on Saturday night after she and her family returned from Honolulu.

She said the support of runners in the other races on the same section of the course helped her hold off the men as she ran alone late in the race.

When she crossed the finish line in first place overall, she said she was surprised.

“But I’m really happy about it,” Dutcher added.

Tracy Capman of Kalaheo placed first in the women’s 10K division and was fourth overall in 46:16. It was her first race since 2014.

“I felt pretty good until the end,” she said, laughing. “I almost puked.”

Capman took a break from road races to work in animal rescue. Most of her running these days is with her dogs and on Sunday mornings with dogs at the Kauai Humane Society as part of a program to get them outside and away from the kennels.

While she didn’t expect to win, Capman still pushed a hard pace in tough conditions to give herself a chance.

“I’m always really competitive, especially with myself,” she said.

Kauai’s Dodger Middlebrook won the 5K in 18:53. Meagan Lee won the women’s 5K in 22:45. Joe Rand of Kapaa won the 10K in 34:55.

Eric Wright, who just moved to Kauai from Anchorage with wife Bethanne, took seventh in the 10 miler with a solid 1:14:59 in his first race on the island.

While he was a little dehydrated and is still adjusting to Kauai’s humidity, he said he enjoyed the race.

“I just love running in the heat,” he said. “I do well in heat.”

Bethanne won the women’s 40-49 age division, while Eric was second in the men’s 40-49 age group.

“It was a lot of fun and a beautiful course,” he said.

Race Director Fran McDonald said support for this year’s Plantation Days fun runs was excellent. Runners, spectators and sponsors all helped make for a great day.

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