Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 |
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Bill Buley / The Garden Island file
Jon Barretto of Lihue gives a victory yell after winning the 5k division of the 2018 Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run in Omao.
A young runner leaps over a boulder during the 2018 Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run in Omao.
This Saturday, race through Kauai jungle trails and raise money for kids fitness programs on Kauai at the same time.
This Saturday, race through Kauai jungle trails and raise money for kids’ fitness programs on Kauai at the same time.
It’s the 5th annual Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run, and this year organizers have added another course to their usual 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer races — a fun, more mellow walk portion for those who’d like to stroll through the trees instead of take on the distance races.
Rory Zambard, of Keala Foundation, which hosts the event and provides year-round free fitness programs for kids on Kauai, said participants can look forward to a “monumental” obstacle course and mud pit this year.
Aaron Hoff, the Kauai man who started the trail run five years ago, added: “… and it’s optional.”
The course winds through private land on the south side owned by Knudsen Trust, and the 10 K and 5K team events, as well as the fun walk, take participants into the Kahili Mountain.
Racers are timed and winners are acknowledged, but the Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run is first and foremost a fundraiser for Keala Foundation’s keiki fitness programs at gyms in Poipu, Kekaha and Anahola.
The money raised from the event provides free CrossFit for Kauai keiki, and Hoff says they’ve now got about 600 kids registered in programs across the island.
Hoff started those programs with the specific purpose of keeping kids away from alcohol and drugs, and to decrease teen suicide on Kauai.
It’s all maintained by the Keala Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on youth support for Hawaii, and that’s the organization that will use proceeds from the Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run.
“This is all for the kids,” Hoff said Thursday as he prepared for the event, which technically starts today when Kauai kids are paired with professional athletes on island for the event.
Kids get to workout with those professional athletes and learn how physical fitness and community connections can lead to a better quality of life. Around 400 keiki are signed up for Saturday’s mud out. Those kids are participating in the trail run at no cost to them.
More than 1,000 people are signed up for Saturday’s Ultimate Hawaii Trail Run, and Hoff said they’re expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 participants.
Five years ago, Hoff says the Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run reached the week of the race with only 20 people signed up.
“I had a lot of money sunk into it, and the big day hit and we had 300 people,” Hoff said. “Now, it’s amazing how it’s grown.”
In addition to some well-known Kauai faces like Mayor Derek Kawakami, the roster at the race includes CrossFit athletes Noah Ohlsen, Kara Saunders, James Newbury, Cody Mooney, Patrick Vellner, and four-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Frasier.
Following the race, a sunset luau at Koloa Landing Resort will feature live music by Donavon Frankenreiter and Titus Kinimaka, as well as a hula show and silent auction.
There’s still time to sign up for the Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run, either the morning of the races or online at ultimatehawaiitrailrun.com.
The staging area is off Kaumualii Highway near Oamo. Organizers suggest watching for signs on the highway and arriving early. Gates open at 6 a.m. A mandatory safety briefing is scheduled for 7:45 a.m. and the first heat kicks off at 8:30 a.m.
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or email@example.com.
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