Taking things into their own hands (and feet)

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Emma Burgess points out the three-mile practice-run route Saturday at the Hokuala Ocean Course parking lot in Lihu‘e.

NAWILIWILI — A short, three-mile “practice” run launched the Run Club Kaua‘i at the Hokuala Ocean Course parking lot Saturday.

Organized to fill a void left when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down high-school athletics, Run Club Kaua‘i is free for youth runners, and is affiliated with the Road Runners Club of America.

“This is good,” said Maile Silva, mother of runner Kamaira Silva, who ran cross country for Kaua‘i High School before the pandemic closed the door on organized high-school athletics. “They’ve already lost one season, and the kids are looking for something to do. It’s worse for track and field, where we’re losing two seasons.”

Keith Burgess, father of Emma Burgess, the 2019 Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation girls cross-country champion and one of the leaders of the nonprofit, youth-run group, said the purpose for starting Run Club Kaua‘i is to provide a community-based running group that empowers all people to participate in the sport of running in pursuit of enjoyment, health, well-being and competition.

“I learned about running in the eighth grade,” Emma Burgess said.

“I was in basketball, and running was part of conditioning. That’s when I discovered I liked long-distance running. I did one Resolution Run hosted by the Pu‘uwai Canoe Club, and I was hooked. I got to run against Jaden DeSouza and I’m happy she got the scholarship to run,” she said of the Island School student who signed a letter of intent to run at St. Mary’s College in California.

Four events — all live and in-person — mark the opening calendar for Run Club Kaua‘i, starting with the ‘Oma‘o Trail Run/Race scheduled for May 15, starting at 8 a.m.

This event will be followed by the Puakea Golf Course Start to Summer 5k on May 22, starting at 4:30 p.m.

A Hokuala Golf Course Race date is to be determined, and a Kukuiolono Golf Course Sundown 5k scheduled to start a 4:30 p.m. June 26 rounds out the opening calendar.

Burgess is part of the volunteer central and east Kaua‘i leaders, with Carin Schotiff, Ann Hetiger, Chris Ang, an atheltic trainer at Kapa‘a High School, and Jerry Jona, athletic director at Island School. The Kalaheo-Po‘ipu-Westside group includes Dr. Derek Johnson and Dalton Matsuyama, the Waimea High School cross-country coach.

Currently, Run Club Kaua‘i has permits pending with the County of Kaua‘i for the multi-use bike path and Vidinha Stadium where fully-automated times will be submitted to Athletic.net.

Participating runners are asked to follow the CDC safety protocol that includes bringing own water bottles, being aware of surroundings, having phones on them, and having coaches in proximity of the athletes for training and races.

Pratices for the Po‘ipu and Kalaheo area take place Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at locations that will be announced on Team Reach App.

Practices for the central and east areas will take place on Tuesday and Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday practice start at 4 p.m. at locations that will be announced on the Team Reach App.

Donations (there are no fees for youth runners) and grants are welcomed to cover expenses for national club dues, club and special-event liability insurance, shirts, awards and other operating costs.

Additionally, new runners are encouraged to join the group.

w Info: runclubkauai@gmail.com.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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