Volcano Art Center to host Rain Forest Runs
After a two year hiatus the Volcano Art Center will once again be hosting a trio of trail races, but this time outside of National Park land.
Following the July 2008 Kilauea Volcano Marathon, 10-mile and 5-mile runs held in Volcanoes National Park officials decided to end the popular event after 26 consecutive years.
Citing a variety of reasons, from the then recent eruption of Halemaumau Crater to the overuse of the trails and the chance of bringing in invasive species on runners shoes, the Park decided to discontinue the three races.
Sharron Faff has taken it upon herself to try to revive the footraces and will be hosting the Volcano Art Center Rain Forest Runs on Saturday, August 21.
“It was my idea to put this event together,” Faff said. “I had already started the process of putting the race together when Lorna Jeyte, owner of Kilauea Lodge, approached me and asked if I would be willing to put together a fund raising event for the Volcano Art Center.”
Faff teamed with Volcano Art Center CEO Tanya Aynessazian in putting together the inaugural event and have thus far exceeded their original expectations.
“When I first talked with the Art Center Board of Directors I told them they should actually expect the race to cost money as I pretty much only expected around 250 runners to participate in the first year,” Faff said.
The event has already surpassed original estimates and Faff now expects to attract over 400 runners and walkers. “With 400 participants we’re now at the breakeven point with the costs of producing a new event on a tight budget,” she said.
According to Faff there will be participants represented from 14 states and three countries with the majority of those coming from Hawaii. “Most of our runners are from the Big Island,” she said. “Overall we have 58 percent women and 42 percent men that are registered.”
This year’s event will feature a half-marathon (13.1-miles), 10K (6.2-miles) and 5K (3.1-miles) along with a free keiki run, walk or trot at distances of 200 yards or shorter for those seven years old and under.
“We are very pleased with Sharron’s involvement in this and other races and her ability to organize all the details of this race,” Aynessazian said. “She has exceeded our expectations and we are overwhelmed with the generosity and support of so many community members.”
Being a new race Faff needed to layout the courses for each of the distance races. “I wanted to use the rain forest as much as possible without hindering traffic on Highway 11 or Old Volcano Road through the Village,” she said.
Faff looked at a variety of possibilities before settling on a route that would give participants the most mileage through the rain forest with the least amount of traffic impact.
“After having driven the village roads over and over again I chose Cymbidium Acres as the safest and most beautiful for the runners,” Faff said.
All three races will start and finish at Cooper Center on Wright Road in Volcano Village and will then go through Cymbidium Acres before returning to Wright Road to get the added mileage needed.
“The half-marathon will even get in a little off road experience at the end of the pavement on Wright road,” Faff said. “All of the courses have beautiful views of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, while running on Kilauea Volcano.”
To put on a race of this size and magnitude Faff and Aynessazian estimate that there are over 160 volunteers that have come forward to help along with some businesses that have made contributions to the event.
Kilauea Military Camp will sponsor the Military Awards and the Volcano Art Center will be providing unique pieces of art to the top male and female runners in a variety of age divisions.
If everything goes as planned for this year Faff wants to add a full 26.2-mile marathon to next year’s event which would then replace the old Kilauea Volcano Marathon. But for now Faff is hoping to surpass the 400 participant mark for this year’s inaugural event.
“There is still time to register for all three races,” Faff said. “We will have packet pick up and late registration on Friday, August 20 at the Kilauea Military Camp which is located inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and people can also register on race morning at Cooper Center from 5:30 to 6:30 am.”
For more information about participating in any of the Volcano Art Center Rain Forest Runs contact Faff at 967-8240 or go to www.volcanoartcenter.org.