Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Christina and Chaco Cornett are top runners in East Hawaii

Christina Cornett and best friend Chaco

Recently I took part in the 4th Annual Howl in HPP hosted by Annie Svaty.  The annual event brings together dogs and their owners for a walk in Hawaiian Paradise Park.  But this year Svaty added a new twist by having a two mile race for those people and dogs that were so inclined.

I was asked to time the race and was very impressed by all that participated.

Chaco and her owner, Christina Cornett, ran the two miler in 17 minutes and 2 seconds, which equaled out to an 8:31 per mile pace.

“I’ve been running with Chaco for nearly a year, since he was a puppy,” Cornett said.  “I specifically chose a dog that would enjoy outdoor activities, including running, to have as a running buddy.”

Cornett managed to train Chaco to run with her in a short period, but it did take a awhile for Chaco to build up his endurance.

“We began running when he was about 8 months old and we started with one mile runs,” Cornett said.  “Initially he would need to take breaks, but as his endurance built we upped the mileage to two miles after just a couple of months.”

A few months after adjusting to two mile runs Cornett continued to build up his endurance and today Chaco and his best friend do trail runs of 6 to 8 miles together several times per week.

Cornett is a nene researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey field station in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and currently is enrolled in the graduate program at the University of Hawaii at Hilo studying Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science.

Growing up in Dubuque, Iowa, Cornett played a variety of sports since preschool and by the third grade began traveling with her soccer team.  By 8th grade she had added volleyball and made the traveling squad.

“I have always been an athlete during my entire life,” she said.  “I’ve always played school sports and wanted to try a variety of activities.”

Cornett played soccer, basketball, and volleyball in high school and continued her volleyball into college playing volleyball at the Division I level.

“I ended up transferring to Evergreen State College where I ran on the cross country team,” Cornett said.  “I didn’t start competitive running until 2004, but I immediately fell in love with it.”

In 2006 Cornett came to Hawaii as an intern for the Hawksbill sea turtle internship program at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

“I really loved it here and managed to piece together biology positions so that I could stay and pay the bills,” she said.

Chaco and Christina are joined by Santa

To stay in shape this 27 year old will typically run 30 to 35 miles each week during the school year and add an additional 5 miles to her weekly total when she’s not in school.

“I try to run for an hour 5 to 6 times a week and I also hike quite a bit for work,” Cornett said.  “When I can find the time I also enjoy a variety of ocean activities including kayaking.”

Cornett’s job will have her hiking throughout the island and at elevation which provides her with a good overall fitness workout.

Cornett is also careful of what she puts into her body and believes in keeping everything in moderation.

“I am mostly vegetarian as I will eat fish once or twice a month,” she said.  “I buy nearly all of my produce at the local farmers markets and make sure to include lots of veggies with lunch and dinner.  I am not a pasta or potato eater, but really enjoy the Okinawa sweet potatoes as my starch.”

Because Cornett enjoys outdoor activities she has incorporated into her regular fitness routine a variety of things that she loves to do.

“I love the outdoors so it’s easy for me to stick with running, walking, hiking and kayaking,” she said.  “For me, running provides me with daily quiet time and helps relieve stress.  I enjoy most outdoor activities, as I love being outside.”

The combination of regular physical exercise combined with a healthy diet has brought balance to her fitness program and has contributed to her overall health and wellness.

“Staying active is important to me because I want to be able to keep having adventures for decades to come,” Cornett said.

Cornett has participated in both 10K (6.2 miles) and half marathons (13.1 miles) but has not entered a competitive race since entering graduate school.

“I just want to continue enjoying running for many years to come as I am not a particularly outwardly competitive person,” she said.  “I prefer to keep expectations to myself, but I will participate in any race with my dog.”

The healthy, happy and well adjusted Chaco appears to be having lots of fun training with his pal, but declined comment for this column.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment