Canefire Conditioner a tradional fun race for pairs
KEAAU – The Big Island Interscholastic Federation opened its season with a traditional Canefire Conditioner, on the campus of Christian Liberty Academy.
It doesn’t happen to be your usual 3 mile cross country race because harriers are paired up with a teammate and there are special rules for team scoring.
“I ran a conditioner at Taylor University (Indiana). It too was a preseason race,” CLA Coach Frank Grotenhuis said.
The objective is to allow everyone to run with a partner doing a relay format so that each runs a total of 3 miles (the total distance in a BIIF race, but with taking a 1 mile interval beak in between.
“I think that the kids like it because they have a rest between each mile and they can get away with not being in 3 mile shape,” Grotenhuis said. “Coaches have liked the fact that it’s a low key event, they get to see where their kids are at, and they can see some of their runners win awards.”
“Our goal has been to make it a fun event for the schools and give them a chance to get out to Keaau and see our campus,” Grotenhuis said. “It is always an eye opener for our school to see how popular cross country is!”
The Canefire conditioner gives 3 team trophies and 15 pairs of medals per race, according to Grotenhuis.
This year’s winner pair were both for Hilo in Stephen Hunter and Timon Skinner for the boys and Mahana Sabado-Halpern and Nina Bean for the girls.
Viking Coach Lory Hunter divided her girl pairs so that their number 1 runner would be paired with their number 4 runner and their #2 would be paired with #3.
“We wanted the team pair to push each other,” Coach Hunter said.
And Hilo strategy paid off as their two teams battled for first place and finished one-two with Carmen Garson-Shumway and Kaylee Rapoza finishing within three minutes of each other.
“This is an exciting run and this is my favorite race,” Garson-Shumway said.
Bean echoed her teammate statement, “we pushed them to run hard and we paced them to make it fun” she said.
The Hilo pairs were clocked at their mile splits in the 6:52 range with the final mile reaching a speedy 6:02.
The third pair crossing the finish line was TeHani Jones and Tiana Iwata from Kamehameha.
Each coach came with their own strategy.
Michael Franklin head coach for Hawaii Prep Academy girl’s team said he has been doing the same thing for the past 5 years. He didn’t want to pull any surprises on anybody and the whole thing about his team strategy is to try to train them to run as a pack.
HPA lost to Hilo in team scoring by one point. But that didn’t change Franklin’s opinion of his strategy to train them to run as a group.
Coach Jordon Rosado of Waiakea said he likes the format at CLA because it affords his team to rest between miles and he wants to see what it is like when you put all these miles together during the week.
“It’s a great fun way to keep kids motivated to want to run and the CLA coach does a fantastic job putting this event together,” Rosado said.
Coach Joel Truesdell of Kamehameha’s team has done the Canefire conditioner for all seven years.
“It’s a great way to kick off the season, the kids love it. We don’t really train for the race.
Frank Grotenhuis is a great host and it’s his way of showing aloha,” Truesdell said.
On the boy’s side, was another pair of Hilo boys in Stephen Hunter and Timon Skinner taking first place.
“We were running in second place until our final baton pass in which we took over the lead,” Hunter said.
The Honokaa Dragon’s had a ten second lead on Hunter but the young Viking made up the time in a thrilling eleven second turn around.
Hunter had to pass the Dragons in the final baton pass to make it a clean sweep for the Vikings, but Honokaa still pulled out a team title.
Another pair of Vikings in Isreal Sim and Max Panoff came in third place within a minute of the other Hilo team.
Fourth place went to the pair of Paul Gregg and Tyler McCullough from Parker as the Bulls were separated by a mere minute and twelve seconds from first place.
But in the Conditioner format it takes your top four scoring teams to win the team title.
Despite the high temperature of a noon day boy’s race and no trade winds coming through the cane fields it still made for a great venue.
Grotenhuis keeps getting larger and larger participation, with 300 last year and a total of 328 runners this year.
CLA makes the awards possible through a series of fund raisers throughout the year, according to Grotenhuis.
A change in venue has BIIF cross country moving to the campus of HPA next Saturday Sept 1 starting at 10 a.m. instead of Kealakehe.