Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Christine Wolf lacing up her shoes to run Hilo Marathon

Christine Wolf prepares for Hilo Marathon

Sometimes in sports, as it is in life, just a few words can open the doors to equal opportunity and fairness for all of us.

   In 1972 a 37-word law provided half the American population with the same health and fitness opportunities as everyone else.  It stated, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

   The Title IX Educational Amendment, written by our own Congresswoman Patsy Mink, opened a new era of equal opportunity for women in this country.

   “During the ‘60’s I wrote a letter of complaint to our local school board that girls were denied many opportunities,” Christine Wolf said.  “I was informed by our geriatric high school principal that as I matured I would find out that fitness just wasn’t very important for girls.”

  Wolf was just one of more than 100 million Americans that were denied the same opportunities that boys had while growing up.

   “Looking back, there was an ongoing theme in my life, insofar as trying to live an active, athletic sort of life, but feeling that my options for that were limited by my gender,” Wolf said.

   If there were any organized competitive sports offered to girls during the 60’s, when Wolf was in middle and secondary school, she would have wanted to participate.

   “I wanted to be a jock,” she said.  “I wanted to be involved in many classes and extracurricular activities that were only offered to boys in our little backwater school district of Annawan, Illinois.”

   In high school Wolf did take a proactive approach about physical fitness as she began to practice yoga.

   “I became self-taught in yoga by reading whatever books on the subject that I could find,” she said.  “I thought yoga was ‘groovy’ and I actually managed to structure myself a daily routine and stick to it for a few years.”

   During her college years Wolf attended two art schools in Michigan and in Manhattan, respectively, neither of which offered any physical education requirements or sporting activities.

   By the time Wolf finished college Title IX was in full bloom and this Midwesterner fitness fortunes took a positive change for gender equity.

  “I moved back to Illinois after college and found a Nautilus Gym that recently opened near my work place and they had announced that they were going to allow membership for women,” Wolf said.  “The novelty of the idea, engaging in a male sport, enticed me to join and eventually lifting weights every morning before work was part of my normal routine.”

   Wolf’s job as a graphic designer led her to accepting a position at a print shop in Waipahu, Oahu in 1983 where she eventually met and married John Luchau.

  “John was an avid runner with many marathons under his belt,” she said.  “He soon had me out pounding the many bike and pedestrian trails on Leeward Oahu.”

   Wolf maintained a frequent presence in a local gym and dabbled in running on occasion; all the while thinking that someday she should give a marathon (distance of 26.2-miles) a try.

   “I kept saying I will run a marathon before I reach the age of 35, then it was 40, then 45,” Wolf said.  “As each birthday passed I just pushed the goal further back.”

   Wolf and her husband moved to Paradise Park in 1992 where they spent several years building their home together. 

   “As I approached my 50th birthday I was just about to give up on the whole ‘I wanna be a jock’ dream and toyed with the idea of just sinking into a sedentary old age,” she said.  “It was during this period that I saw a flyer for a new yoga studio just opening in HPP called Wisdom Way Yoga Center.”

   The first yoga session renewed Wolf’s vigor in wanting to be active again as she took the more strenuous form of yoga called Ashtanga. 

   “Ashtanga is a high energy practice emphasizing vigorous, continuous movement, which elevates heart rate and body temperature.”

   The new form of yoga introduced to Wolf provided her with the discipline and physical fitness level that she was looking for.

   “I can honestly give Ashtanga yoga the credit for bringing me to a renewed relationship with my body,” Wolf said.  “By 2007 I had the confidence to once again attempt running as I tried a few 5K’s (3.1-mile) races along with the Volcano 10-mile Rim Run that year.”

   In 2008 Wolf was looking at running her first marathon, a dream that she had since college, and set her goal to just finish the beautiful 26.2-mile course of the Big Island International in Hilo.

   “My goal was just to finish one marathon just to prove I could and then retire from running,” Wolf said.  “But once I finished the Hilo Marathon I began feeling competitive and began planning to run it again the following year.”

   Wolf did her second Hilo Marathon in 2009 and crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 13 seconds.  This year Wolf is lacing up her shoes again and will take on the Hilo Marathon scheduled for March 21.

   “Last year I barely missed breaking 5 hours so this year I’m hoping to take about 15 to 20 minutes off my time to finish around 4:45,” she said.

   To prepare Wolf is now running around 45 to 50 miles per week with varying daily distances. She will also cross train by doing a 10-mile bike ride on the days she doesn’t run and she enjoys a love hate relationship with her workouts.

   “I still don’t really enjoy training, though I have my moments when the mood and the motion come together and I feel great,” she said.

   Soon we will see how Christine Wolf will do on her third marathon race.  In the meantime, if you’re women, let’s give thanks for the foresight and inspiration given to your gender by the late Patsy Mink.


March 8, 2010 Posted by | Marathon Running, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment