As weekends go, this last one was a blast! The sport calendar in Hawaii was absolutely jam-packed full of events, and it was hard to pick and choose what to do?!
Luckily I had already signed up for Sunday’s Honolulu Ekiden with a group of local running-girls (team name Speedy Wahines), and decided not to run in Saturday morning’s HURT ‘Run With A View’ trail race, but volunteer at the event instead.
HURT trail races are so low-key they are almost relaxing, and it’s basically like going to hang-out with some of your best running buddies! There were lots of familiar faces at the race, and some new people showed up too! For a great insight to a triathlete’s first HURT trail run, read Rachel Ross’s post here: Run Like A Mother.
The race organisers Rosie Warfield & Cheryl Loomis provided awesome ‘green’ prizes, and also a delicious spread of food for all the runners, including fruit kebabs! Refreshing & juicy post-race goodness. The full results of the race can be seen HERE – first man home was the fleet-of-foot Jimmy Davis and first lady was cool-as-a-cucumber Kelly Vandenberg.
When Sunday arrived, getting up to the 3:15am alarm was pretty difficult, but being part of a relay team is great motivation for getting out of bed so early! And so, I made my way down to Kapiolani Park for the start of the Honolulu Ekiden, to meet up with my fellow ‘wahines’. I arrived to quite a scene: lots of bright lights and runners milling about; a main stage and an inflatable arch over the road; Japanese pre-race banter over a microphone with music in the background; and a long line of buses. The course for the Ekiden was an out and back route, divided into six legs that covered a total distance of 26.2 miles. Shuttle buses had been arranged to move runners to all the different relay leg starting and finishing points, and by 4:45am everyone was herded to their relevant bus, and driven out to the course.
The race started at 5:30am, and I knew our first leg runner, Julia, wearing the special ekiden sash (complete with it’s timing chip) would set off at a quick pace, being surrounded by ‘the pack’! Next up was Jill who ran another quick leg, and then Christina took over, setting off into the wind towards Sandy’s Bay. Katie then took the sash, and ran back over the hill past Hanauma Bay to where I was waiting to run the 5th leg. With adrenaline pumping I set off at a crazy pace, but soon settled down knowing I had 9.62km to complete. When Kaimuki Middle school arrived I handed over to Eri, who crossed the finish line to bring our team home in 3rd place overall, with a time of 2:46:41. 1st place went to Team Hawaii Sport Mag, and 2nd to the Blue Shell Sea Warriors. Full results can be viewed HERE.
As anyone who has been part of a relay team can tell you, they are always awesome races to do. What made this extra special was the Japanese touch and the Ekiden element with it’s festival approach, the bright and colourful finishing touches, the enthusiasm, and the quirky, light-hearted sense of humor of the female sports commentator.
An Ekiden was traditionally a method of communicating a message in Japan. A series of messengers would relay news to a destination via a chain of people. But now that we have other means of slightly faster communication, the modern day celebration of this tradition is held at ‘Ekiden’ road running relays across Japan, and around the world. The major ekiden in Japan is the Hakone Ekiden, where University teams compete for the coveted title.
The mission of Sunday’s Honolulu Ekiden states:
“By introducing this sport to Hawaii, Honolulu Ekiden seeks to promote cultural exchange between Hawaii and Japan. Through sport and music, Honolulu Ekiden would like to “pass-on” the Ekiden tradition in hopes to strengthen bonds between the people of Japan, Hawaii, as well as the rest of the world by sharing part of Japan’s culture.”
Team Hawaii Sport Mag will be doing just that with their prize of a round-trip ticket to Japan with Hawaiian Airlines, for each team member! Maybe next year your team will challenge them for 1st place?
Overall the Honolulu Ekiden was definitely a cultural celebration. It was very different to the usual road race in Hawaii, but diversity is the spice of life, right?! And sport and music do bring people together, whatever the language – running and dancing, dancing and running – we can’t complain. What’s that quote again… “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Now that I think of it, someone had even called us the “Crazy Wahines’…
In other news it’s only a few weeks until The Kukini Yoga Retreat on the North Shore of Oahu at Camp Erdman YMCA. It’s going to be an action packed two days of trail running, and yoga-for-runners, with lots of time to relax, go to the beach, swim and chill out inbetween. I will be delivering the retreat with Toney Avakova (Lanikai Juice Running Club Coach) and we are having fun making final adjustments to our plans for the weekend. Think trail-time with an added yogic element, and a twist of fun. Sign-up is still open, at the Kukini Yoga Retreat page on this website, and there are a limited number of spots stil available – so hurry!
Please feel free to email if you have any questions at all! Roll on May 31st!
Congrats everyone who ran, swam, biked or hiked this weekend!