Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Doing the Right Thing in Sports – Heather Scarbrough

Heather Scarbrough

One of the biggest rewards for any teacher is to see their former students later in life making a difference in our community.

Recently I had the pleasure of writing a story on a local race in which one of the winners made a confession.

Heather Scarbrough, a local girl born and raised in Volcano, had participated in her first 10K (6.2-mile) race a few weeks ago, winning the event in an outstanding time of 38 minutes and 30 seconds. When University of Hawaii at Hilo cross-country coach Jaime Guerpo heard of her finishing time he immediately wanted to know if she had any college eligibility time left.

But all was not rosy for the 34 year old as she knew that the win and the times were artificially provided.  “We (the first four runners) only ran half the distance and a race official decided to just double our times and give us the win, even though I asked to be disqualified,” she said.

 Scarbrough later in the day called her former 7th grade teacher to confess.  “I just couldn’t accept something that I didn’t earn,” Scarbrough said.  “It was a difficult decision, especially since we were asked not to speak to the media concerning this, but I didn’t earn that time and I just couldn’t pretend that it was true.”

Her former 7th grade teacher at Mt. View School, of course, was the Big Dog which couldn’t be prouder of someone who had turned out to be so honest and honorable.

“I recall that you were one of my teachers.  I distinctly remember the running pictures on the walls in our classroom, as it was always something I was in awe of,” Scarbrough said while speaking to the Big Dog.

“During my childhood I was naturally very athletic and a fast runner,” she said.  “Growing up in Volcano we were outside all the time, riding bikes everywhere, climbing trees, and racing each other.”

Part of Scarbrough’s fitness came from her love for surfing as she could be found as a teenager catching the waves at Honolii.

“I didn’t run in high school or college and when I entered a 5K (3.1-mile) race held on the Mauna Loa Mac Nut factory grounds I soon realized that my once natural speed had slipped dramatically as puberty had kicked in,” Scarbrough said.

Scarbrough attend UHH and during those college days she started to run regularly to get into shape.  “I can remember counting telephone poles from my rental apartment to the UHH campus,” she said.

The number of telephones poles began to increase as Scarbrough began to develop her endurance, one telephone pole at a time.  “I remember the horrible blisters and shin splints from wearing cheap tennis shoes, as I had no clue about real running shoes,” Scarbrough said.

In the years that followed Scarbrough invested in real running shoes and began to do 5K races around the island and progressed all the way to running her first Honolulu Marathon (26.2-miles) at the age of 27 in a remarkable time of 3 hours 36 minutes.

“I can remember the great feeling of accomplishment when I finished my first marathon and I also remember the relief of finishing my last marathon when I was three months pregnant with my son Ka’ili,” she said.

To supplement her running Scarbrough participates in regular yoga to keep her back supple and her body injury free.  “Yoga makes my body like a rubber band and it really helps me focus and stay balanced, as well as expands my lung capacity,” she said.  “It is great cross-training for running and I will also swim occasionally to mix it up.”

Scarbrough will do yoga three times per week and will run four times during the week.  She is also careful with the foods she eats and will follow the “rainbow” idea of eating a variety of colorful fresh foods.

“I’m in the best health today as I truly believe in biochemical individuality,” she explains.  “We all have different needs based on our genes, environment and so forth that is why I base my diet on the rainbow theory.”

Scarbrough is a mother of a 5-year old and at times has put her training on the back burner.  “Now that my son is getting older things are starting to get a little easier,” she said with a laugh.

“I would like to work on my speed and eventually start training for the Hilo to Volcano Ultra Marathon (31-miles),” she said.

As for her misfortune during her 10K last month Scarbrough remains philosophical saying, “Initially I was stunned and felt paralyzed as I wasn’t prepared to act.  But that soon wore off and was replaced with a sick feeling in my stomach, that inner feeling that tells you something is really wrong.  I couldn’t go forward with my day, my life, until I’d spoke the truth.”

If Scarbrough did not say anything after the 10K race no one would have known as her saying nothing would have been the easiest thing to do.  “Truth and integrity, I believe, build inner strength and character.  To deny it takes away from your life force.  I have learned we always have a chance to change, to do better, in each new situation that life presents,” she said.

Scarbrough, of course, did the right thing and stood up for truth, honesty and fair play in sports competition.  That is why I am so proud to say that I was her former 7th grade teacher back at Mt. View School.

Thank you Heather Scarbrough for doing the right thing.


September 13, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments