Sunday concluded the 15th running of the Big Island International Marathon and some of Hilo’s best runners were seen on the road, but weren’t entered in the race.
Local speedsters Keoni Ucker, Nick Hagemann, Zach Johnson, James Imai, Alejandra Sanchez, Krista Andrew, Kelly Rogers and Liliana Desmither got an early start on the race, but never crossed the finish line.
The above mentioned group are all members of the University of Hawaii at Hilo cross country men’s and women’s team and they were doing community service which had them on the roads at 1 am.
“We start at 1 in the morning by laying out the 400 state and county cones to clearly mark the course for the runners,” UHH harrier coach Jaime Guerpo said.
Guerpo and his group of runners are some of the more than 300 volunteers that provide the behind the scenes support that makes for a safe marathon, half marathon and 5K event.
“This is our fifth year that we have helped the Big Island Marathon and it is a gratifying experience for us,” Guerpo said. “I think it just helps our team bonding and says a lot about my athletes and what we hope to contribute.”
Guerpo’s group will also lay out all the ‘runner on the road’ signs, along with other signs that clearly mark the course.
“We put up flashers on barricades to block off roads in order to send cars one way and to keep the runners safe,” Guerpo said.
At 9 am Guerpo and his athletes will do everything in reverse by picking up the cones and barricades and on Monday morning everything gets returned back to the County and State Highways Division.
Waiakea High School, Key Club, under the direction of Kari Sato also had numerous members spread over 26 miles of the course as they provided the needed liquid (water/Gatorade) to participants in an attempt to avoid serious cases of dehydration.
Sato has been assuming the role of providing the supplies necessary to all 13 aid stations over the past several years as a community service project and her job actually starts on Saturday when leaders of each aid station meets with her to pick up their supplies.
“We see this as a good service project for all involved,” Sato said. “It allows our Key clubbers to see, first hand a race up close.”
Also playing a key role are the Kiwanis who course marshal the entire 26 miles of the route.
“This project was taken on by our organization to assist and help the economy,” Roy Kagawa sad. “The cost of hosting this event and welcoming many runners and guest from all over the world, only gains recognition if the community helps.”
Kiwanis have been helping the BIIM for more than 10 years and they took over the course marshalling of the route six years ago, under the direction of Roy Kagawa.
“The entire service project is our way of contributing and we can involve the entire Kiwanis Family in doing service in one day,” Kagawa said.
Kiwanis International sponsors a global organization in which there is a project called “Kiwanis One Day,” according to Kagawa/
“This is a way we can do our One Day contribution to our community,” Kagawa said.
The Kiwanis Family starts with the parent club, Kiwanis Club of East Hawaii, and they will support other various clubs in the BIIM event such as UHH Circle K. in Hilo, Hilo High Key Club, Waiakea High Key Club, Hilo Intermediate Builders Club, Waiakea Intermediate Builders Club, EB deSilva Elementary K-Kids, Hilo Union Elementary BUGS program which all make significant contributions to the success of the BIIM.
At the finish line another group of volunteers are waiting under a tent for the finishers of the marathon.
Dan Renteria, an athletic trainer from Waiakea High School, had assembled a group of high school trainers to volunteer in providing free massages to any marathoner who desired one.
“I began volunteering at the marathon to supplement my internship hours while attending Ki Mana Academy,” Renteria said. “When I graduated and received my massage therapy license I would then volunteer to help promote my practice, Na Hiku Massage Therapy LLC.”
Locally, Licensed Massage Therapists have been difficult to get as volunteers so Renteria asked his fellow Certified Athletic Trainers if they could help.
“Some of the Athletic Trainers were interested in learning post event massage so I hold workshops and they practice the procedure on anyone walking into the facility door,” Renteria said. “It’s been very gratifying to know our efforts have been appreciated by the runners and race organizers.”
During the first 10 miles of the race there are five aid stations and all of them are community sponsored and have been providing support to the marathon for 15 years.
Lorraine Mendoza, Susan Munro, May Navarro, G A Rock, are just a few aid station leaders
Clarita Corpuz from Retired Senior Volunteer Program brings RSVP volunteers to make packets for the runners several days before the event, then supplies the necessary manpower for packet pick up the day before the races.
At the race finish line you can see many RSVP workers handing out food and preparing drinks to insure that everyone is healthy and taken care of.
The Hawaii State Teachers active and retired take part in providing an aid station and in the distribution of finisher’s tee shirt.
The list goes on and on of those that came out to selfishly provide the manpower to make an event of this scale take place.
And someday should you happen to see a very grateful race organizer doing a jog around Hilo Bayfront remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”