Sunday saw the running of the Big Island International Marathon as more than 800 runners, walkers and joggers enjoyed the beauty of East Hawaii while getting in a good morning workout.
Behind the scenes more than 250 volunteers worked to ensure that the races would run smoothly and efficiently.
University of Hawaii at Hilo cross-country coach, Jaime Guerpo, got an early start on setting up the course by picking up nearly 400 cones from both the county and state transportation departments on Friday afternoon.
Guerpo, along with several of his cross-country runners, loaded two trucks in preparation for their early Sunday morning workout.
The group started at 2 am Sunday morning, with one truck taking the first 13-miles of the course and the other the second half of the race.
“Our team wanted to get involved in a community project and thought that helping in the marathon would be a good thing to do,” Guerpo said.
After all the cones and barricades were put out by the UHH team the group took a short break before heading out to Pepeekeo at 9 am to start picking everything up. This morning they were back at the county and state transportation facilities returning everything they had borrow three days earlier.
Clarita Corpuz and her workers from RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) started helping on Thursday when a large group came to the BIIM office to help put runner’s packets together.
On Saturday, RSVP volunteers working in two shifts, helped distribute race materials to the runners and walkers at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. And on Sunday another two groups came to the finish line to distribute T-shirts and to cut oranges and papayas that went to help feed the participants.
“We’ve helped the marathon for all 12 years,” Corpuz said. “It’s something that we look forward to doing every year.”
Firefighter Joe Wedemann got off work at 7 am Saturday morning then spent the rest of the day loading all the finish line equipment. Wedemann, with the help of Waiakea Kiwanis then assembled the tents, tables, chairs and race chute in preparation for Sunday’s event.
Wedemann and another group of WHS Kiwanis returned Sunday to take everything down and needed to return the materials back into storage.
More than 80 members of the Waiakea Key Club were on hand to help with eight of the 12 aid stations that covered the 26.2-mile marathon course. Adviser Kari Sato has made the BIIM a major project for the key clubbers for the past four years and the group has been instrumental is aiding in the success of the event.
“We really started preparing for this event several months in advance and the students and adult advisors put in a good number of hours in making this a successful project each year,” she said.
Roy Kagawa, Kiwanis, has been the Director of Course Marshals for the past four years and during the race drives the entire 26.2-mile course to insure that all his volunteers are in the right place at the right time.
Course designer and HELCO engineer, Curt Beck, placed all the mile and kilometer markers out on the roads at a very early hour, then went to the starting line to provide the opening remarks to the marathon and half-marathon runners at Pepeekeo.
“This was the first year we had the half-marathon and the runners loved the course as we got a lot of compliments after the race,” Beck said.
Several other community groups helped with aid stations during the first half of the course and their leaders included Susan Munro, Lorraine Mendoza, May Navarro and G.A. Rock.
Three major sponsors of the event have been supportive of the marathon since its inception in 1997 and have made large contributions to insure its success. The County of Hawaii, Research & Development, KTA Super Stores, and Big Island Candies have all been a part of BIIM and have watched the race grow by leaps and bounds over the past four years.
Coming up on Good Friday, April 10, is the annual Emily Wedeman Memorial 5-mile run.
Wedeman was a “super volunteer” for running events and spent many weekends provided the behind the scenes support that is so valuable to a successful event.
Wedeman lost her battle with cancer and died three years ago on Good Friday and the 5-miler is named in her honor.
The event begins at 7:30 a.m. in the parking area of Moku Ola, Coconut Island, and participants are charged $2 with proceeds being donated to the American Cancer Society.
For questions call 969-7400 or go to http://www.waynejoseph.wordpress.com…..
Volunteers are the key to any successful organization and BIIM would like to extend their sincere appreciation to the many people who worked behind the scenes to make this year’s event a memorable one.
And someday should you happen to see a happy and appreciative race director come running through the streets of East Hawaii remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at email@example.com.