Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Landmark 400th Column for Running with the Big Dog

In life it is somehow always easy to remember your first, in almost everything you do.

I can remember clearly taking my first driving test, winning my first road race, finishing my first marathon, even being cut for the first time after trying out for the high school football team.

One’s first experience, whether positive or negative, leaves an indelible image in our memory bank and the details of those experiences become very vivid even with the passing of many years.

On December 30, 2002 I began writing the Running with the Big Dog column and little did I know back then that today I would be celebrating my 400th column.

Many people associated with the running community back then told me that I would run out of people to write about within a short period of time, but little did we know that this column would branch out to be more about people who are healthy and fit and less about running.

Today’s column provides me with an opportunity to reflect upon the many people, events and fitness ideas that I’ve written about over the past eight years, but it all started with my first.

Joe Wedemann

Joe Wedemann a 6’ 4” middle aged man became my inspiration for writing these columns as his story provided me with the spark that ignited the Big Dog weekly column series.

Back in Dec. 2002 Wedemann had several dream goals, to qualify for and then complete the Ironman World Championships and to become a Firefighter.

Wedemann, despite his early struggles with asthma, believed then as he does today that “if others can do it, I can too.”

“My philosophy hasn’t changed,” Wedemann said during a recent interview. 

Since Dec. 2002 Wedemann has completed not one, but four Ironman Triathlons,

“In 2003 I finished my first Kona Ironman in 11 hours and 54 minutes and since then I finished the 2006 and ’07 Kona Ironman’s and in ’08 I did the Louisville IM,” he said.

It was the ’07 Kona event that he had his fastest time finishing in 11 hours and 47 minutes and along the way has completed 10 stand alone marathons with his fastest being 3 hours 24 minutes.

“In March 2004 I finally got my dream job with the Hawaii Fire Department and I’m still loving it,” Wedemann said. 

Wedemann put his “big” races on hold for two years after joining the Department, but he continued his training by swimming, biking and running regularly.

“Fitness has always been important to me and with becoming a Firefighter staying fit has become an important part of my job as well,” he said.

Wedemann has returned to school where he is seeking as Associate of Science degree in Fire Science.

“Once I finish school I plan on a 10 year comeback as I want to run another Ironman in 2013 and I also want to qualify for and compete in the World Championship Exterra two weeks after completing my Ironman,” Wedemann said.

It was easy for me to remember Joe Wedemann as my first ever Big Dog column, but as I tried to recall who was the second person I wrote about that recollection was not stored in my memory bank.

As curiosity would have it I needed to go back and research who that story was about and discovered it to be one of the best known runners in Hilo, Jason “The Thorpedo” Thorp.

Thorp’s story came out on Jan 6, 2003 and at the time he was becoming a legend in the marathon distances running the Kona, Maui, Big Island International and Honolulu Marathon all in the same year and all under 3 hours.

Often seen running along Hilo Bayfront with his signature Oakley sunglasses while listening to music on his Rio 600 mp3 player, Thorp was a leader in every running distance from the 5K to the marathon.

Today Thorp lives in Waikoloa with his wife of five years, Natalie, and two children.

“Natalie is an Emergency Room Nurse at North Hawaii Community Hospital,” Thorp said.  “I would eventually like to move back to Hilo which I consider my hometown,”

Once known throughout the Big Island as a dominate contender in every race distance Thorp is just hoping to make a comeback after a long, slow injury recovery.

“I injured my Achilles about 18 months ago and I’ve been trying to make a comeback,” he said.  “I know at 39 years of age that I won’t be in top shape, but I did sign up to do the Hilo Marathon in March.”

Thorp has won the BIIM for a record three times and will make his first appearance on the course after a two year hiatus.

“I still love running and can’t wait to run in Hilo again,” Thorp said.

So here we are after eight years of writing the “Running with the Big Dog” column and I hope you readers have as much fun reading these stories on Monday’s as I have in writing them.


January 17, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , | 6 Comments