Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Volunteers make 2012 Big Island Marathon a Huge Success

Sunday concluded the 15th running of the Big Island International Marathon and some of Hilo’s best runners were seen on the road, but weren’t entered in the race.

Local speedsters Keoni Ucker, Nick Hagemann, Zach Johnson, James Imai, Alejandra Sanchez, Krista Andrew, Kelly Rogers and Liliana Desmither got an early start on the race, but never crossed the finish line.

The above mentioned group are all members of the University of Hawaii at Hilo cross country men’s and women’s team and they were doing community service which had them on the roads at 1 am.

“We start at 1 in the morning by laying out the 400 state and county cones to clearly mark the course for the runners,” UHH harrier coach Jaime Guerpo said.

Guerpo and his group of runners are some of the more than 300 volunteers that provide the behind the scenes support that makes for a safe marathon, half marathon and 5K event.

“This is our fifth year that we have helped the Big Island Marathon and it is a gratifying experience for us,” Guerpo said.  “I think it just helps our team bonding and says a lot about my athletes and what we hope to contribute.”

Guerpo’s group will also lay out all the ‘runner on the road’ signs, along with other signs that clearly mark the course.

“We put up flashers on barricades to block off roads in order to send cars one way and to keep the runners safe,” Guerpo said.

At 9 am Guerpo and his athletes will do everything in reverse by picking up the cones and barricades and on Monday morning everything gets returned back to the County and State Highways Division.

Waiakea High School, Key Club, under the direction of Kari Sato also had numerous members spread over 26 miles of the course as they provided the needed liquid (water/Gatorade) to participants in an attempt to avoid serious cases of dehydration.

Sato has been assuming the role of providing the supplies necessary to all 13 aid stations over the past several years as a community service project and her job actually starts on Saturday when leaders of each aid station meets with her to  pick up their supplies.

“We see this as a good service project for all involved,” Sato said.  “It allows our Key clubbers to see, first hand a race up close.”

Also playing a key role are the Kiwanis who course marshal the entire 26 miles of the route.

“This project was taken on by our organization to assist and help the economy,” Roy Kagawa sad.  “The cost of hosting this event and welcoming many runners and guest from all over the world, only gains recognition if the community helps.”

Kiwanis have been helping the BIIM for more than 10 years and they took over the course marshalling of the route six years ago, under the direction of Roy Kagawa.

“The entire service project is our way of contributing and we can involve the entire Kiwanis Family in doing service in one day,” Kagawa said.

Kiwanis International sponsors a global organization in which there is a project called “Kiwanis One Day,” according to Kagawa/

“This is a way we can do our One Day contribution to our community,” Kagawa said.

The Kiwanis Family starts with the parent club, Kiwanis Club of East Hawaii, and they will support other various clubs in the BIIM event such as UHH Circle K. in Hilo, Hilo High Key Club, Waiakea High Key Club, Hilo Intermediate Builders Club, Waiakea Intermediate Builders Club, EB deSilva Elementary K-Kids, Hilo Union Elementary BUGS program which all make significant contributions to the success of the BIIM.

At the finish line another group of volunteers are waiting under a tent for the finishers of the marathon.

Dan Renteria, an athletic trainer from Waiakea High School, had assembled a group of high school trainers to volunteer in providing free massages to any marathoner who desired one.

“I began volunteering at the marathon to supplement my internship hours while attending Ki Mana Academy,” Renteria said.  “When I graduated and received my massage therapy license I would then volunteer to help promote my practice, Na Hiku Massage Therapy LLC.”

Locally, Licensed Massage Therapists have been difficult to get as volunteers so Renteria asked his fellow Certified Athletic Trainers if they could help.

“Some of the Athletic Trainers were interested in learning post event massage so I hold workshops and they practice the procedure on anyone walking into the facility door,” Renteria said.  “It’s been very gratifying to know our efforts have been appreciated by the runners and race organizers.”

During the first 10 miles of the race there are five aid stations and all of them are community sponsored and have been providing support to the marathon for 15 years.

Lorraine Mendoza, Susan Munro, May Navarro, G A Rock, are just a few aid station leaders

Clarita Corpuz from Retired Senior Volunteer Program brings RSVP volunteers to make packets for the runners several days before the event, then supplies the necessary manpower for packet pick up the day before the races.

At the race finish line you can see many RSVP workers handing out food and preparing drinks to insure that everyone is healthy and taken care of.

The Hawaii State Teachers active and retired take part in providing an aid station and in the distribution of finisher’s tee shirt.

The list goes on and on of those that came out to selfishly provide the manpower to make an event of this scale take place.

And someday should you happen to see a very grateful race organizer doing a jog around Hilo Bayfront remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”


March 19, 2012 - Posted by | Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Okay, I’ve done fifteen of these so I’m obviously biased, but I also have some comparative knowledge. I think the volunteers do a tremdous job every year, but this year they seemed especially bouyant and enthusiastic. I don’t know if it was the almost continual rain, or if it was the fact that they had to stand there hour after hour as we slower runners continued to trickle through, but they really were supportive, fun, and loud. One young lady in particular, near the back of Arnott’s lodge, was booming us along. A very sincerely, warm (and now dry) Mahalo to them and their sponsors and organizations.
    To Jaime’s crew: thank you, too–you represent a large number of people working behind the scenes to make the races a success.
    Finally, to Big Dog, once again a first class event that has your paw prints all over it. We’ll see you through the year and I’m already looking forward to #16.
    Thank you to all and warmest aloha,
    David Hammes

    Comment by David Hammes | March 19, 2012 | Reply

  2. Thank you so much for this awesome race! It was my 1st marathon & I couldn’t have dreamed of a better one! I’ve enjoyed my time in Hilo & hope I’ll be able to return someday. Thank you to everyone that helped and volunteered to make this race possible.

    Comment by Rachel Hatch | March 19, 2012 | Reply

  3. I agree! What a great marathon, and a big thanks to each volunteer! Becky Kmetz

    Comment by Becky | March 19, 2012 | Reply

  4. Aloha–Still feeling the warmth and what a blessing to have such a wonderful group of volunteers that comes
    out every year just for us!! Greatly appreciated and with everyone putting in hours of volunteer work it sure shows character in each of them–especially like a day like yesterday-all morning it rained–
    As one that did all 15 marathons here in my own backyard, sharing our beautiful course, meeting friends and making new friends, the BIIM has indeed grown to be my favorite marathon, in deed..
    Much Mahalo to you, Big Dog for always making us feel so special with everyone’s help–
    You know this is one of the main reasons why Mr. David Hammes, Mr. DJ Blinn. The Cowman and I
    returns every year –Continued great sucess and God bless—
    With much love and gratitude,
    Marie Y. Kuramoto #136

    Comment by Marie Kuramoto | March 19, 2012 | Reply

  5. Great shout out to all the volunteers who make the Big Isand Marathon such a success, you are truly the heart of this race. For record this years (2012) course set up crew was Jaime Guerpo, Kelly Leong, James Imai, Nick Haggeman, Jordan Bledsoe and Stephanie Adams. Alejandra Sanchez (Now Thomas) and Kelly Rodgers have both graduated (2005 I think), Kirsta Andrews graduated in 2011. Lililana DeSmither is no longer running for UHH, although she is still at UHH pursuing a degree in Geology.

    Zach Johnson

    Comment by Zach Johnson | March 20, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks Zach and for the record I interviewed your coach and asked him who would be helping with course set up and those were the names he provided. Thanks for your participation!

      Comment by waynejoseph | March 20, 2012 | Reply

  6. The volunteers were amazing! SO MANY SMILES and cheers! That wonderful Aloha spirit, coupled with the incredible scenery really made for a remarkable race experience! Definitely worth the trip from Chicago! Thanks to EVERYONE!!!!

    Comment by Justin Whittington | March 21, 2012 | Reply

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