Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog



HELCO engineer Curt Beck certified the half-marathon course

HELCO engineer Curt Beck certified the half-marathon course


    The 12th running of the Big Island International Marathon is only six days away as runners; walkers and joggers prepare to participate in what is considered by many to be one of the most scenic routes during the first half of the course.

    This year the BIIM has measured out a 13.1-mile or half-marathon course to go along with their showcased full marathon as well as a 3.1-mile walk/run.

    To measure and certify the new half-marathon course took months of preparation, according to BIIMA Course Measurer, Curtis Beck.  “The measurement of a race course is very precise, and requires the use of a 400-meter calibration course to calibrate the bicycle-counter,” Beck said.  “The calibration course was precisely measured by a survey crew at HELCO who volunteered their time:  Barbara Cooper, Iopa Maunakea, Joe Martin and Tyrel Cuyo.”

    Beck, along with expert runner and bicycling enthusiast Rob Patterson, examined three different routes for the half-marathon, with Patterson operating the bicycle-mounted counter and Beck recording and analyzing the data.  The first route would have started in Honomu and finished at the Bayfront in a simple point-to-point direction.  However, “the unpaved roads through the Honomu Gulch and the farm fields near Pepeekeo were too rough for a road course, so that idea was abandoned,” Beck said.

   The two next looked at a course that would have started in Pepeekeo and looped Banyan Drive completely before returning to the Bayfront at what is now the marathon finish line.

   “The second option proved to be about 2,000 feet too long and we could not make up the distance at the start because it would have meant starting the race on the highway, too far from the marathon start,” Beck said.

    Beck finally settled on, and with agreement from the race director and BIIM board, to start with the marathoners in Pepeekeo and run along Banyan Drive and loop back through Liliuokalani Gardens to get just the right distance.  “The turnaround on Banyan will be near the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel entrance,” Beck said.

  Established back in 1997, the BIIM was the brainchild of businessmen George Miyashiro of Jack’s Tours and Roland Higashi of Creative Arts.

    Both men were looking at ways to attract more Japanese tourists to Hilo and thought that a major fitness activity might be the answer.

   The Japanese love challenges and running a full 26.2-mile marathon provides a major milestone that rewards its self-disciplined participants with a sense of accomplishment.

    Miyashiro and Higashi recruited the efforts of Karl Kunz and the Big Dog to help establish a course and to set into motion the beginnings of what has become an evolving event.

    Initially the BIIM was to host their event every October starting with the 1997 race and along with the marathon there was to be an Ekiden Relay.  But the numbers never materialized from Japan and the event never grew past a total of 200 runners during its first five years.

    Miyashiro and Kunz has long since left the BIIM and gone onto other pursuits, but Higashi continues to serve on the Board of Directors as its President and the Big Dog serves as race coordinator and as the Executive Director of the organization.

    In 2002 the Ekiden was dropped and replaced with a 10.8-mile run and a 3.1-mile run/walk which saw the numbers of participants increase.

   With this years race only days away the half-marathon has already established itself as the most popular distance, attracting 300 participants, with 240 in the marathon and another 200 in the 3.1-mile run/walk.

   In conjunction with the three races the BIIM will also host a Health and Fitness Expo will be held at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel on Saturday, from noon to 6 p.m.  The Expo is free and open to the public and there are a number of vendors providing free services, from massage to body fat analysis.

   Ki Mana Academy Massage, Waiakea Health & Fitness Academy, Herbalife, Podiatrist Dr. David Arkin, and Hilo Bike Hub are just a few of the many people that will be offering advice and services at the Fitness Expo.

   During the Expo there will be late registration, for those still interested in participating in one of the three races.  For those that are already registered they can come and pickup their races packets and running numbers.

   No registration will take place on race morning and only those who have registered and have running numbers will be allowed on the course.

   For more information go to www.hilomarathon.com or call 969-7400.



March 16, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Marathon Running, Running on the Big Island | , , , | 1 Comment