Kaua‘i marathons, runs get creative during pandemic

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Sandra Nichols of Newton Square, Pa., and other runners make their way along Ala Kinoiki near the start of the 11th annual Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon in Poipu in 2019.

Running is another industry significantly affected by the new social distancing protocols implemented after the Coronavirus pandemic.

Several marathons have transitioned to virtual marathons, or have started implementing ways to change the spacing parameters associated with marathons.

Many Kaua‘i runs and marathons have continued to alter their plans to adapt to a changing industry.

The Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run, which is the largest annual fundraising event to benefit the Keala Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating communities that support the people of Hawaii, hasn’t made any changes in their scheduling yet.

As of press time, the race is still scheduled for September 19.

“We continue to monitor the state of the country, and we want to make the best decision with everyone’s health and safety in mind,” Executive director of the Keala Foundation Sarah Braunsdorf said.

Part of what helps make the Foundation successful is the connections they make with off-islanders, who they hope become an active part of the Foundation by donating, or getting involved once they see what the Foundation is about, Braunsdorf stated.

“We like to allow people traveling to the island to be a part of what we do and get involved locally because it is something so special,” Braunsdorf said. “The run is so much bigger than a run. It is an opportunity to be part of the community and give.”.

They haven’t officially decided to do a virtual marathon, but that is an option they are currently exploring, according to The Foundation.

“The virtual run would be a way online people could still contribute without actually having to travel,” Braunsdorf said. “We will continue to monitor and do what is best for the island. I want nothing more than our community to come back stronger and come together because no one has the upper hand in this.”

COVID-19 has restricted the Keala Foundation’s physical work, but they continue to serve the community for both adults and kids.

The Foundation continues to run online classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday for kids and adults that still want to take the various virtual courses they offer.

“The class is safe, secure and it’s controlled,” Braunsdorf said. “This is an excellent resource for the parents. People will see them try to implement different activities through fitness, small lectures and things you can’t learn in a physical classroom.

The Kaua‘i Marathon, which still has a countdown to it’s September 6 start date, is exploring options.

“It’s been an interesting time for the running industry,” Director of marketing for Kaua‘i Marathon Robin Jumper said. “I was at a conference last week (related to running), and it is cool to see how in such a short period, the running community is coming together to find short term and long term solutions.”

Jumper doesn’t just see some of the changes as short term while they may become long term to the industry of running.

“I think like any other business, everyone is going to have to make changes,” Jumper said. “We will see shifts in running events, such as managing safety precautions in a different way than we have in the past. There are going to be different protocols that will have to be in place to make sure that we can be safe and healthy.”

Jumper anticipates the industry will continue to change.

Some of the changes include social distancing guidelines with more space at the start of the race instead of everyone bunching up, holding hands, volunteers cleaning toilets, food being served with more pre-packaged goods and social distancing protocols at drink stations.

A run that was canceled/postponed was the Bum Run at Hokuala, which was initially scheduled for a March 21 start date. It was canceled in a written message by the Director of marketing and communication Diann Hartman.

The Hanalei Canoe Club, which has an annual 5K and 8-mile walk, has decided to postpone their June 6 race with no makeup time scheduled at this point.

“Running is an individual thing,” Secretary of the Hanalei Canoe Club Mary Mair said. “Anyone who is a runner, is out there running somewhere.”

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Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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