In preparing to write this story the first thought that came to mind was the great 1986 comedy film starring Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short called “The Three Amigos.”
Right here in Hilo we have our own sort of Three Amigos and their friendship comes through with their love for running, more importantly marathon running.
DJ Blinn, Harvey Nakasone and Steve Pavao are characters in their own right, in the world of endurance running.
The trio have built a relationship through spending hours on the road and becoming what they proudly call themselves, “Maniacs,” “Marathon Maniacs” to be precise.
“We’ve been running together for over five years,” Pavao said. “Harvey was the first Maniac on this island and he recruited us to become Maniacs.”
To be a Marathon Maniac is no simple task and for these Three Amigos that accomplishment came as a result of running two marathons (distances of 26.2 miles) within 15 days of each other.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with running or walking a marathon, try doing 44 laps around Liliuokalani Gardens in less than 7 hours and that will give you an idea.
“I became a Maniac in September 2007,” Nakasone said. “I believe I was the first one to become a Maniac from this island and now we have quite a few.”
These Maniacal Amigos will reinstate their credentials on October 30 and November 6 when they run in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. and the following weekend with the New York City Marathon.
“Harvey was the one that came up with the idea,” Pavao said. “He has run the Marine Corps Marathon once before and thought it would be great for all of us to do it along with the NYC Marathon the following Sunday.”
Both Blinn and Nakasone are former United States Marines and running in D.C. will be something special for them, according to Blinn.
“I’m a Vietnam Veteran and I have never been to D.C. to see the Vietnam Wall,” Blinn said. “I want to pay tribute to my fallen comrades.”
Blinn served in Vietnam in 1967 and just thinking about visiting the Wall brought tears to his eyes.
“I know this will be an emotional experience and an opportunity of a lifetime,” Blinn said,
The trio have never done the NYC Marathon and they decided on that race precisely for the reason that it was the following weekend from the Marine Corp race.
“I’ve done the Marine Corps Marathon before and knew DJ would be interested in doing it since he is a former Marine,” Nakasone said. “I plan on taking him to see the Vietnam Wall and I’m sure it will be an emotional experience for us all.”
In preparation for marathons the Hilo Maniacal Amigos will run together every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
“We enjoy the post run camaraderie,” Pavao said. “We often travel together and bunk together to keep cost down.”
Last month the amigos ran on Kauai and they shared a room to keep expenses down, but more importantly to enjoy the bond they share together as runners.
“I have run about 25 marathons with them over the years,” Pavao said. “And now we have started to run half marathons as well.”
Nakasone has complete 28 marathons and Blinn, the senior member of the group at age 62, has finished an incredible 104 marathons to date.
“I run for health reasons,” Nakasone said. “I have Type II Diabetes and my mother and grandmother both died from diabetes.”
While running has kept Nakasone’s diabetes in check he also reaped the reward of losing 30 pounds from his dedication to the sport.
A new Marathon Maniac sister organization has been created called the Half Marathon Fanatics and Blinn, Pavao and Nakasone became the first from the Big Island to qualify as Half Fanatics when he completing two half marathons within the two week requirement.
“The half marathon has become the most popular running distance in America and I’m trying to get people from Hawaii to qualify in becoming a Half Fanatic,” Nakasone said. “We now have five Half Fanatics from the Big Island and I’m sure we can get lots more by the end of this year.”
The qualifications for membership are the same, only the runners qualify by running half marathons (13.1 miles) instead of marathon, according to Pavao.
The Three Maniac Amigos will leave on their journey on Oct. 27 and have a couple of days in D.C. to acclimate before sharing in the Marine Corp Marathon together.
“We’ll take an Amtrak train to NYC from D.C. on Nov 2nd,” Pavao said. “That will give us a few days in the Big Apple before the Big race.”
Pavao has his sights on breaking four hours for both marathons and will use the D.C. marathon as a training run for NYC.
“I am actually hoping I can run a faster time in NYC,” he said.
Whatever the Hilo Maniac Amigos do on the East Coast, one thing is for certain, they’ll be having fun doing it!
And someday should you happen to see a healthy, happy senior jogging laps up and down Shower Drive in Paradise Park remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at email@example.com.