As we get older our memories aren’t as sharp as it used to be, but for senior citizen, Dennis Shigeoka, remembering his “hana butta days” is something that he treasurers.
Shigeoka was born and raised in Hilo and recalls swimming, on a regular basis, at “Teacher’s Pond” and “South America Pond” behind the Hilo High School gym.
“I have some fond memories of doing a variety of exercise related activities during my childhood,” Shigeoka said. “I would go fishing on my bike at Kaipalaoa Landing (Bayfront Lighthouse), Radio Bay (by Hilo Wharf) and along the Keaukaha shores to Ole Pumaile Hospital grounds where the road ends.”
During those early years Shigeoka became known as a good track runner as he won a variety of sprint races in the Parks & Recreation track program.
“I was a good runner back then,” Shigeoka said. “I can also remember running from the Carvalho Gym P&R track meets which matched up with other Gyms in town for prestige and bragging rights.”
Shigeoka finished first in sprint races during those early years at Kumiai picnics in Onekahaka Park, winning pencils and other school supplies as prizes.
“Downtown Hilo was our hang out place and going to Kress Store, National Dollar and Standard Drug Stores as we would go to eat hamburgers and drink soda,” he said.
Shigeoka went on to run track for Hilo High as his 1963 mile relay team set a record for the Big Island Interscholastic Federation. What’s most impressive is that Shigeoka, like many of the runners of his day, ran barefooted around the cinder track surface.
“Most of us couldn’t afford track shoes so we did what we had to do to compete,” he said.
Added to Shigeoka’s exercise mix was surfing, martial arts and basketball as this active youngster enjoyed a variety of sports.
In fact his skills in basketball earned him a spot on the University of Hawaii Vulcan basketball team in 1964 for which he lettered.
Today, nearly a half century after those “hana butta” years, Shigeoka works as a Civil Engineer and still maintains his love for sports.
“I’m not running as I would like to,” Shigeoka said. “I joined a group of my ’63 classmates and we golf two times a week at Hilo Muni. On other days I’ll go swimming with a friend of mine to Carlsmith Park.”
In 1981 Shigeoka bumped into Calvin Malinguis and the chance meeting set Shigeoka on a path of long distance running.
“Calvin was the fastest in the middle distances and he encouraged me to try road races,” Shigeoka said.
Shigeoka went on to try his first marathon (26.2 miles) in 1983 finishing in over 5 hours, but by 1995 he had dropped his marathon time down to 3 hours and 30 minutes.
“I was stunned by what a marathon does to the body as I hit the wall and felt the pain,” Shigeoka said. “My personal life brought me to meet Stewart Miyashiro and during the ‘90’s Stewart trained me on how to run road races.”
From his meeting with Coach Miyashiro he was able to bring his overall running times to career improvements with his personal best time for the 5K (3.1-miles) at 19 minutes and 40 seconds.
But Shigeoka has always been a sprinter and during the ‘90’s he frequented the Aloha State Games and entered a variety of races and on one occasion out kicked the Big Dog to win a 400 meter race and capture the gold.
Along with regular exercise Shigeoka will also watch what he eats as he will avoid lots of different meats and will consume more fruits and vegetables.
“I do have a weakness for an occasional beer or two,” Shigeoka said with a smile.
Shigeoka continues to do the types of exercises that he has enjoyed from childhood and continues to reap the benefits of running.
“Those good old days honed my love for running,” Shigeoka said. “I continue to run because I like the way it makes me feel. Running is something that I want to do for the rest of my life and hopefully I can continue to run marathons, comfortably, for a long time.”
2010 HHSAA Division II State Volleyball All-Tournament Team
OH Dylan Hamilton, Seabury Hall
OH Conner Snow, Seabury Hall
MB Richard Harpole, Moanalua
MB Sasha Obradovic, Hawai`i Prep
OH Chad Barretta, Hawai`i Baptist
S Holden Awong, Seabury Hall
L Josh Sutherland, Seabury Hall
MOP Isaiah Ekau, Pahoa
Division I All-Tournament Team
OH Joshua Taylor, Punahou
OH Henry Cassidy, Punahou
MB Benjamin Lam, Punahou
MB Tyler Cundiff, Iolani
Opp Micah Christensen, Kamehameha-Kapalama
S Dylan Chock, Kamehameha-Kapalama
L Scott Sakida, Iolani