Do people who run together, stick together? Maybe. If it is the unique experience of sharing a moment in time, or a particular event, that brings people together, then the running community on Oahu is a great example. People show up to training groups, races and support each other come rain or shine. After participating in a series of different running events over the last few weekends in Honolulu, I can definitely say that the running community in Hawaii is a truly dedicated clan.
The Hapalua on March 10th, plus it’s ‘Chase’ element involving a group of local runners forming ‘Team Hawaii’, was the perfect example of people sticking, and working together, despite a torrential downpour, to complete a half-marathon. Comraderie, kinship, some might say madness – call it what you want but the enthusiasm for being outdoors and active was ever present. The event kicked off with the first wave of handicapped runners starting 25 minutes ahead of the main pack. Five more waves of Team Hawaii then set off at roughly three minute intervals, up until the 6am mass start. Unfortunately the rain began as the invited elite Kenyan athletes in the mass start were lining up: Patrick Makau (world marathon record holder), Jimmy Muindi and Nicholas Manza. Water-logged shoes and damp clothes are never great to hang around in, but the runners waited patiently for tape to drop. Finally, the gun went, and the Kenyans started on their mission to catch as many of ‘The Chase’ group of athletes as possible – aiming to make their way into the top ten and the prize money.
Ultimately, Patrick Makau finished 16th, Nicholas Manza 17th and Jimmy Muindi 26th with local runners Stephen Marthy, Christina Wong and Kim Kuehnert taking the top three places. From a personal point of view the race was an excellent chance to really ‘race’ a half marathon, and starting at 5:41am with four very talented runners was an experience not to forget. And neither was the rain! Running in the dark, splashing through puddles, worrying about contact lenses and trying to focus on maintaining a decent pace was altogether a very surreal experience. Unfortunately a lingering cold hampered my best efforts to ‘not-be-beaten-by-a-Kenyan’, as I finished in 20th place, having watched the elites glide past along Kalakaua Avenue, the infamous finishing straight of the Honolulu Marathon – but such is life and next up is Brighton Marathon!
A further inspirational event I attended at the beginning of the month was Wanderlust Oahu, held at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore. A ‘Pilgrim Pass’ gave me a full day of yoga related activities, and first up was Wholehearted Hooping Basics – which for this runners’ hips was incredible! It was so much fun that I would recommend it to anyone who needs a little light hearted reality check. Pick up a hoop and act like a big kid! Next up was a class with the fantastic Rochelle Ballard, ‘YogAlign Flow for Surfers & Athletes’. The class ticked so many boxes for me as a runner-who-does-yoga. Rochelle asked us to activate the ‘backsides’ of our body, which is so important for building strength – plus, doing yoga to Riders On The Storm by The Doors made me smile like a cheshire cat. And then, it was time for Prana Flow with Shiva Rea. Shiva’s class was in one of Turtle Bay’s ballrooms, which meant that roughly 250-300 people could squeeze in and experience the yoga teaching style of Shiva, in person. The class was a true Vinyasa, when yoga poses are sequenced so that you are continually moving from one pose to the next, and by the end I was ready for a very long savasana. Overall my day at Wanderlust was exhaustingly excellent, one with an atmosphere of again, shared experiences, that seemed to bring a look of happiness to everyone’s faces.
Whether we run or practice yoga as singular or combined pursuits, we are already adding an element to our lives that is difficult to find anywhere else. Running and yoga are unique ways of staying fit & healthy, and when we consciously decide to pursue either activity, we are already pre-selecting ourselves into a certain category. The difference between going it alone or practicing in a group is simply that of how an experience is shared. Mass participation is shared experience on a macro-scale, but if you talk story with any yogi or runner about what you do alone, on a day-to-day micro scale, a knowing nod of appreciation will likely be relayed.
Alone or Together – Happy Trails