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 | , , , , , ,


  1. Wow BigDog, That is a really long time for a column. Thanks for doing that for our community. I love reading about our neighbors and how they keep fit!

    Comment by Fleet Feet | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  2. I knew you had been writing for a long time. Just didnt realize it was that long.
    You are the only reason I read the sports section. I ususally just give it to my husband the other 6 days of the week.
    Keep those columns coming! Thanks

    Comment by SBee | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  3. Congratulations on a great accomplishment!
    I do not know how you do it!
    Amamzing talent in our community and you the writer.

    Comment by RAJ | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  4. Hi Big Dog!!
    I just knew it!!Wished you much success on your column when you first started it-think Joe remembers me asking for his autograph on your first article!! Many more great articles to look forward too and thanks so much for sharing all kinds of sport in your column as well..the best for the new year…

    Comment by marie kuramoto | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  5. Congratulations on your 400th Article !!!

    I was one of those people who wondered if you would run out of people to write about … but I was wrong !!!!

    One the benefits not really mentioned in your article is the number of new friendships that you made along the way in the process of putting together all of those articles over years (count me in).

    Another unknown benefit is the number of people who you inspired to “do something to get fit”. You’ll never know for sure, but it has to be more than just a few.

    Finally … in addition to remembering the first time for certain events in your life …. well, sadly we often remember the “last time” for many events as well as we get older.

    Comment by Rocky | January 22, 2011 | Reply

  6. CONGRATULATIONS on YOUR 400th. WOW…WHAT AN ACCOMPLISHMENT !!! I love reading your column. You’ve managed to bring the human element into your column that inspires many to take better care of their health and improve their lives.
    Continue to share Your Incredible Talents and Keep Up Your Outstanding Work !!!
    Happy Martin Luther King Day…Just like MLK, Jr., YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE in PEOPLE’S LIVES AND INSPIRE THEM to GREATNESS !!! Sincere & Humble Gratitude.

    Comment by Arleen | January 22, 2011 | Reply

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