Go with us on a little trip back in time.
A man named Jeff Sacchini was out running from his home toward Mahaulepu. It was then, in 2007, as he admired the view on a glorious, sunrise morning, one he would never forget, he had a thought. We’ll let him tell it:
“I’m saying to myself, ‘most people aren’t out running at 6 in the morning, and they have no idea how beautiful it is to start your day with some kind of run.’ And I said to myself, ‘Why am I alone out here running? Why doesn’t Kauai have a professionally run, organized race? I don’t understand why we can’t have a half marathon and a full marathon.’”
And that started the wheels turning.
“So I get back from that run, I told my wife ‘I got this idea.’ She’s been listening to me for years coming up with crazy ideas. I made a few calls, a few people laughed, a few were questioning my sanity, wanting to spend all this money to organize a race. I thought to myself, ‘If I listened to everybody my whole life why I can or can’t do something, I probably wouldn’t have done a quarter of the things in my life.’”
Thankfully, Jeff Sacchini doesn’t listen to doubters.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Sacchini founded the Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon and, in 2009, it began. It has grown steadily over the years. More than 2,000 people registered for this event, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Sunday. At 6 a.m. in Poipu, runners and walkers will head out, most in the 13.1-mile half marathon, and a few hundred in the very difficult, 26.2-mile full marathon.
The impacts of this wonderful sporting event may be overlooked by some who only see it as a one-day race that causes traffic problems for the most part of a morning.
But that’s a mistake. A major undertaking like this isn’t something you toss together in a month. It’s 52 weeks of work each year with planning that goes into every detail.
First, look at the numbers.
The Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon has donated more than $120,000 to nonprofits since its inception. Not many people are aware of this generosity.
Its annual economic impact is estimated at $3.5 million.
Those are significant figures.
Perhaps, though, even more important than the dollars and cents are the spirit, the camaraderie and the physical fitness that result from this marathon and half marathon.
People young and old take part. They set a goal, they work toward it, they improve their health, they encourage others and, afterward, they soak in the satisfaction of having done their best. We all know, when we feel better we do better. Exercise keeps us sharp mentally and physically. And running is one of the most simple, effective and enjoyable ways to stay in shape.
We have interviewed hundreds of people over the years who have participated in this race. All sing its praises. All appreciate what goes into it and what they take away from it. That’s why more and more want to be part of it. That’s why some 600 people volunteer each year. This run brings out the best in people.
Jeff Sacchini, a successful businessman, is not someone who does things halfway. He is not a man who tries to sneak by on the cheap. He and his staff are all about delivering a top-quality event — and they do. The marathon and half marathon courses are among the most beautiful in the world, and showcase the real Kauai. From the expo to the aid stations to the post-race awards and celebration, this is first-rate. Kauai has a world-class marathon right here. People who call this home don’t have to leave this island to know what it’s like to be part of an outstanding road race. There is a reason this event has enjoyed such strong support from the business community and received national recognition. Businesspeople recognize it for what it has done and will do for Kauai.
The best part, Sacchini often says, are the people. They are why he does this. He doesn’t make much money, assuming he makes any at all. He doesn’t do this for the glory or the accolades. It’s the stories of the men and women who have overcome personal challenges to not only get to the starting line, but reach the finish line.
That’s why you’ll find Sacchini, who ran in high school and continues running recreationally, at the expo at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort &Spa. He loves to talk to the people and hear their stories. He loves to connect with old and new friends. One year, a girl finished on crutches. There are folks who have battled cancer, survived life-threatening illnesses and accidents, are dealing with the loss of a loved one or just trying to turn their life in a new direction, who will be running on Sunday. Moms and dads, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, will be out there, together, sharing a common purpose, a common goal: They want to enjoy the journey, and they want to finish well.
We are confident they will.
We congratuate Jeff Sacchini and his dedicated crew on 10 years of the Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon.
Keep running, and we’ll see you out there.