Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog


Ivo Hanza came to Hawaii to surf.

Staying in shape, eating well and keeping a positive outlook on life can pay big dividends as we grow older and there are many examples of healthy individuals right here in our own community.

Ivo Hanza has been practicing good health for his entire life and looks and acts every bit of a man who is aging well in our society.

But Hanza is not your average person as this soon to be 60 year old doesn’t drink, smoke or take any kinds of stimulants.

Born in Lima, Peru, Hanza grew up active in everything they do in that county, which means he played soccer.

“We played it during recess in school, played it in the streets, we kicked a ball just about everywhere we went, as it was just part of our culture,” he said.

Hanza also fell in love with water sports and learned to swim long before his earliest recollection.

“I became a surfer dude,” he said. I would surf any and every chance I could and when I was younger I would use anything that floated.”

By the time he was 18 Hanza had surfed throughout his home country, in Brazil and Ecuador. “I wanted to surf everywhere in the world and that is why I moved to Honolulu from Lima when I was 19 years old,” he said.

Hanza came to Hawaii on a tourist visa and fell in love with the North Shore. “The North Shore is the Mecca of surfing,” he said.

Realizing that Hawaii is where he’d wanted to stay and surf Hanza needed to find a way to extend his tourist status. “I went to talk with the counselor at Leeward Community College to see if I could enroll there under a student visa,” he said.

Hanza was not only accepted to Leeward but was given a tuition reduction because of his foreign status and was only charged $90 per semester. “I eventually got my Associates Degree in Marine Technology from Leeward,” he said.

Surfing became his sole purpose in life and Hanza admits to being a “surfing freak.” “I was a freak, anything that moves, no matter what the size or shape and I’d want to surf it,” he said.

While staying on the North Shore Hanza was talked into running an 11-mile race from Turtle Bay to Laie. “I never ran before, never trained for this race and never had proper shoes,” he said.

Just before the start Hanza had to find some bushes to relieve him and while he was standing in the brush the gun went off and the race began. “I ended up starting way in the back, but managed to finish in fourth place overall,” Hanza said.

His surfing had kept him in great shape and his healthy lifestyle managed to provide him with a solid cardiovascular base to make the transition from surfing to running.

Hanza survived by making his own surfboards and boards for others and doing a variety of jobs. “In this rich country I could find any type of job, from construction, to yard work, to odd jobs,” he said.

But in 1978 his life changed, for the better, when he met his wife Heidi. The couple decided to move to the Big Island and raise a family.

“Once I got married I kept on surfing, but it became less and less,” Hanza said.

One thing that hasn’t subsided for Hanza is his early morning calisthenics that he performs on a daily basis.

“I do a lot of construction jobs and need to keep myself flexible and my joints well maintained,” he said. “It works as I’ve had very few injuries and can still do the physical labor of a much younger person.”

Add to this Hanza’s health eating habits of meat in moderation and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. One of his favorite lunches is brown rice with vegetables and garbanzo beans.

“I’m an eclectic and I learned from the Hindu about clenching your thirst before eating, so I’ll drink water before ever meal and then take my time chewing my food,” he said.

“I read a book called ‘You Are How You Eat” about a man that would chew his food very slowly, about 100 bites before swallowing. I try to slow my chewing down to enjoy every bite and will take ten times longer to eat than others,” he said.

Hanza believes that people eat too fast and would recommend that for good health to eat good food and to take your time chewing each bite.

“A big part of my staying so healthy is that I follow the Mormon diet my entire life, no drugs, no stimulants, no alcohol or tobacco,” he said.

Ivo Hanza has his 60th birthday approaching this month and he serves as a fine example of someone who is in great shape due to his healthy lifestyle.


Coming up this weekend is the Big Dog 5K run/walk on Saturday followed by the Makana Mile Run on Sunday.

The Big Dog 5K will start and end at the entrance to Moku Ola (Coconut Island) in Hilo at 7:30 a.m. The event is open to people of all fitness abilities as you can walk, run or jog the distance at your own pace.

Hosted by Big Dog Productions the 3.1-miler is free and will provide post race refreshments, timing and announcements of upcoming events.

For more information call the Big Dog at 969-7400.

Then on Sunday join Jaime Guerpo and his UHH cross-country team for the Makana Mile run from Carlsmith Beach Park to Richardson. The event cost $5 and is a way for the UHH harriers to raise some much need funds for their upcoming season.

The one-miler is open to runners and walkers and will begin promptly at 7:30 a.m., so show up early to register and show your support for Vulcan running.

For more information contact Guerpo at 217-5243 or email at Guerpo@hawaii.edu

The next time life throws you a curve ask yourself this question: Will it matter a year from now?

And someday should you happen to see a happy runner at Coconut Island and Carlsmith Beach Park remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.


March 2, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , | 13 Comments