Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Dr. Arakaki continues to give back

Dr. Melanie Arakaki with daughters Jade (7) and Jenna (4)

Dr. Melanie Arakaki with daughters Jade (7) and Jenna (4)

     Everyone knows that regular exercise is a great ticket to living a long, productive life.  Aerobic exercise strengths the heart and helps avoid the many problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

    For many people staying on a regular fitness program can be challenging, especially with a busy career and family demands.

   For family physician, Melanie Arakaki, running has become a time to de-stress with the high demands made of her in her profession.

   “My schedule is pretty hectic, so exercising is one of the few times I have completely to myself.  It is my treat to myself,” Arakaki said.

     Arakaki is married and has two daughters, Jade age 7 and Jenna age 4 and she has made exercise a priority in her life.  “I was in the marching band and managed the soccer and cross-country teams in high school.  I didn’t actually play any sports as I couldn’t even run a mile back then,” she said.

    Arakaki was born and raised in Hilo and graduated from Hilo High in 1989.  “I got started in running in college at UH Manoa mostly to keep my roommate company,” she said.

  Doctor Arakaki has become an accomplished runner having done several EMS 5K’s (3.1-miles) and the Great Aloha Run (8-miles), but her favorite race was when she ran in and finished the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles).

   “I ran my first Honolulu Marathon in 2006 (5 hours 16 minutes) mostly because of peer pressure from Dr’s Morita and Nakamura.  Then I got pregnant in 2007 and therefore missed the race that year, only to lose the baby when I was five months along,” Arakaki said.

   When she got the okay from her doctor Arakaki began training for her second marathon which she finished in 2008.  “I ran the 2008 race (4:56) about 20 minutes faster than my first Honolulu Marathon,” she said.

   Current she is training on doing her third Honolulu Marathon, scheduled for December of this year, and she is doing it for a cause.

   “I had debated about running for a cause for a while and it just so happened that a postcard for Team in Training arrived in my mailbox on one of those days that I had been thinking about it.  So I signed up,” Arakaki said.

Dr. Mel & kids at Hilo track
Dr. Mel & kids at Hilo track

Money raised for “Team in Training” goes to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as it provides funds for valuable research which can save lives.

    “The Leukemia and Lymphoma society strikes a cord with me because I have a cousin and an aunt who are lymphoma survivors.  I also lost a dear patient and friend to the disease and recently one of my college friends lost his wife to leukemia, leaving him to raise his two children alone,” she said.

      Arakaki has even set up a web page to help bring awareness to the group.  “Blood-related cancers can affect everyone, our children in particular.  As a parent of two healthy daughters, I can only imagine how frightening it must be to see a child going through rounds of chemotherapy, or how devastating it would be to actually lose a child or love one to these cancers,” her web site explains.

    To train for her marathon Arakaki will do a couple of short runs during the week and once per week she will head to Spencer’s Gym to work on the elliptical or stationary bike.

    “On Sunday’s I run do a long run (8 to 9 miles) with Dr. Morita, Dave Adachi, Dr. Nakamura and Cindy Fuke.  One of the newer members to our group is Dr. Sara Chiu, a child psychiatrist, who will be running her first marathon this December,” Arakaki said.

    Arakaki will increase her Sunday mileage by one to two miles every week until the marathon, capping out at about 22 to 24 miles in November.

   “I try to exercise at least six times a week, even it’s only for 20 to 30 minutes,” she said.

    Arakaki will also try to watch what she eats, but admits to having a sweet tooth.  “I’m working on it, but I love sweets.  Uh, this is another reason why exercise is important, gotta burn off those calories,” she said.

     Come December Arakaki will toe the line at the start of the Honolulu Marathon and will dedicate her race to her Aunty Else Agena and cousin Fay Castillo, who have survived lymphoma.

    “I also want to dedicate my run to the late Doreen Tao, beloved teacher and friend, and the late coach Wade Ishibashi, who lost their hard-fought battles to lymphoma and leukemia, respectively.

   I have also dedicated this marathon to Jennifer Villanueva, wife of our college friend, Mike, who passed away from leukemia a few weeks ago.  For all the courage and strength and lessons of hope and love, running a marathon seems pale in comparison,” Arakaki said.

   To visit Dr. Melanie Arakaki’s, “Team in Training” site go to http://pages.teamintraining.org/hi/honolulu09/marakaki.


August 17, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Marathon Running, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Distance Runners are Special People

     Recently I attended the athletic awards ceremony for Waiakea High School and was impressed with the high number of scholar athletes (those that maintained a 3.3 grade point average or higher) that participate in sports.

   One example was the Warrior cross-country team which awarded varsity letters to 46 boys, 31 of them scholar athletes, and 17 girls, with 13 scholar athletes, an impressive number by any standard.

   Many of those young harriers were also student body leaders, involved in community service clubs and a couple was serving as their schools valedictorians.

   Distance running is one of the oldest sports known to humans, if not the oldest.  It requires internal motivation and perseverance and can serve as a marker for how much time and effort were devoted to this single pursuit.

  The only community based, non-profit organization, which recognizes the efforts of the high school runner through a cash grant scholarship is the Big Island Road Runners.

   Four years ago the BIRR started a scholarship program for graduating public high school seniors that gave a modest $500 to a boy and $500 to a girl.  The BIRR has since doubled their scholarship to $1000 each and has, for the past three years, given an additional $500 to a private school runner. 

    This year’s public school awards went to two valedictorians in Keaau’s Amy Eriksson and Waiakea’s Bryce Harada, with the private school partial scholarship award going to Kamehameha’s Kaitlyn Yamamoto.

    Eriksson and Harada concluded their high school careers with cumulative grade point average of 4.1 and Yamamoto finished with a 3.9 making them exceptional scholar athletes who performed well in running and in the classroom.

   Eriksson is headed to Bingham Young University-Hawaii, Harada to University of Hawaii-Hilo and Yamamoto to UH-Manoa.

   On Sunday the trio was on hand at the BIRR Scholarship 5K run/walk to take part in the morning run followed by a brief award ceremony to receive their scholarship checks.

   During the race it was newcomer Donald Truesdell getting out to a quick start with Hilo’s Johan Dana and Akira Tanaka giving case.

   Dana managed to stay within a stride behind Truesdell before the youngster from Chico State began to separate himself.

5K Runner-Up Johan Dana cross finish line

5K Runner-Up Johan Dana cross finish line

    Truesdell, who finished his freshmen year at Chico State where he runs cross-country, won in 17 minutes flat with Dana clocking in at 17:36 and Tanaka, finished at 17:58.

   “I was hoping to run under 17 minutes today,” Truesdell said after the race, “but I’m satisfied with the effort.  I took two weeks off distance running to concentrate on doing track work, and I’ll be staying on the island for a month before heading back to California.”

   Truesdell is the nephew of Kamehameha cross-country coach, Joel Truesdell, as both were on hand to see Yamamoto receive her scholarship award from the BIRR.

   Following in fourth place was Amlsom Teklai, 18:01, with Christian Liberty’s Justin Pang, 19:20; Waiakea’s Bryce Harada, 19:39, Keaau’s Shannon While, 20:19; Alex Hatzis, 21:02, Steve Pavao, 21:04, Jeremy Buttz, 21:43; Adam Busek, 22:24 and Dano Banks, 22:49, rounded out the top men.

   For the women it was Cindy Fuke, a nurse at Hilo Hospital, leading the way to win in 23 minutes and 13 seconds.

   “This was a perfect day for running,” Fuke said after the race.  “I’m hoping that I can someday run under 22 minutes for a 5K as it is something that I’ve set as a goal.”

   Fuke used the 5K run as part of her morning workout and later hit the road to do another nine miles.  “Sunday’s are always my long runs and I was hoping to get 12 to 13 miles in this morning,” she said.

   Following Fuke for the women were Kaitlyn Yamamoto, 23:55; Amy Eriksson, 24:57; Esther Kanehailua, 24:57;   Rae Mori, 26:45;  Jill Macki, 27:47; Betty Maeua, 33:01; Jill Osborn, 33:25; and Kekai Wong-Yuen in 37:02 wrapped up the top women for the day.

  Following the event the BIRR held a scholarship ceremony to honor Harada, Eriksson and Yamamoto. 

   “Even though I may not be leaving the BIIF (Big Island Interscholastic Federation) with many championships and titles, I consider myself a dedicated runner an am honored that this association has found me to be a worthy recipient of your scholarship.  In return for this honor, I will stay worthy and commit myself to running throughout my life,” Eriksson said.

   Yamamoto, who is headed to UH-Manoa, plans of being a walk on for the Rainbows cross-country team and Harada, who will be attending UHH, will continue to run in local community races.

June 8, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Scholarship 5K Results and Photo’s

Keaau's Amy Eriksson, Waiakea's Bryce Harada & Kam's Kaitlyn Yamamoto

Keaau's Amy Eriksson, Waiakea's Bryce Harada & Kam's Kaitlyn Yamamoto

Partial Results of Scholarship 5K run/walk held Sunday, June 7:

Donald Truesdell – 17:00

Johan Dana – 17:36                                                                                               

Akira Tanaka – 17:58                                                  

Steve Pavao & Alex Hatzis

Steve Pavao & Alex Hatzis

Amlesom Teklai – 18:01

Justin Pang – 19:20

Bryce Harada – 19:30

Shannon White – 20:19

Alex Hatzis – 21:02

Steve Pavao – 21:04

Jeremy Buttz – 21:43

Adam Busek – 22:24

Dano Banks – 22:49

Cindy Fuke – 23:13                                                                                 

Cindy Fuke & Dano Banks

Cindy Fuke & Dano Banks

Robert Patey – 23:34

Kaitlyn Yamamoto – 23:55

Edward Dalton – 24:00                                                                              

Josh Bipert – 24:23

Amy Eriksson – 24:57

Esther Kanehailua – 24:57

Kumei Kern – 25:02

David Hammes – 26:23

Jerez Tehero – 26:42

Rae Mori – 26:45

Firman Tehero – 27:30                                                                                      

Some of the helpful volunteers

Some of the helpful volunteers

Jill Macki – 27:47

Betty Maeua – 33:01

Malcolm Maeua – 33:02

Richard Crowe – 33:12

Jill Osborn – 33:35

Kekai Wong Yuen – 37:02

Donna Wong Yuen – 37:04

Warren Marumoto – 39:07

Krystal Goodwin – 45:13

Lauren Hill – 45:14

Hannah Geppert – 49:51

Tom Raffipiy – 1:00.50                                 

Overall winners, Donald Truesdell & Cindy Fuke with their prize

Overall winners, Donald Truesdell & Cindy Fuke with their prize

Ryanne Raffipiy – 1:00.51

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hilo’s Cindy Fuke Runs Boston

Cindy Fuke waits to board the bus for the start of the 113th Boston Marathon

Cindy Fuke waits to board the bus for the start of the 113th Boston Marathon

One of the biggest thrills in a runner’s life is to qualify for and then run in the Boston Marathon.

    Each year, around the world, tens of thousands of runners participate in certified marathon courses (26 miles 365 yards) to see if they can reach the Boston standard in order to run in the world’s longest running and most prestigious annual marathon.

    “My qualifying time was 3 hours and 50 minutes and the race that became my most memorable for me was last year’s Kona marathon,” she said.

   Fuke showed interest in sports at an early age, playing basketball and softball in elementary school.  “I was a tomboy growing up, but I stopped playing sports soon after elementary school,” she said.  “I wish I had tried other sports, I think I would have been good.”

   A 1986 graduate of Waiakea High School, Fuke didn’t get back into sports activities until age 20 when she met her husband to be, Gene.

   “Gene took me up to Hilo track and when I first started I couldn’t even make it around the track once.  This is how out of shape I had become over the years,” Fuke said.

   The couple started running together before having two girls, “now we have to take turns running while someone watches our daughters.”

   “I’ve been very fortunate to have a wonderful network of family and friends who help us baby sit.  My aunty Shirley will wake up really early on the weekends so Gene and I can go for long training runs together, or when we have early morning races to do,” Fuke said.

     Fuke, a registered nurse, will run four to five times per week and weight train 10 to 15 minutes four times per week.  “I have a torn ACL, so I try and do exercises for my hamstring to keep my ACL from bothering me and so far it’s working,” she said.

    To compliment her training routine Fuke has recently added yoga on a weekly basis.  “I run a lot and my muscles are very tight, so the yoga helps me keep a little more flexible,” she said.

   A typical week of running for Fuke is between 25 and 35 miles, but when training for a marathon the mileage will increase to 50 miles during certain weeks leading up to the event.

   “My husband is very supportive of my training and on some Sunday mornings I would be gone for four hours doing my long run,” Fuke said.

     “My husband and daughters sacrificed a lot for me and I want to tell them thank you!  They are the main reasons I want to stay healthy,” she said.

      Last June all the hard work paid off for Fuke as she completed the Kona Marathon in 3 hours and 45 minutes to qualify for the Boston race. 

    “Running the Boston Marathon was a bittersweet moment for me,” Fuke said.  “It was something I’ve been looking forward to since last July, unfortunately my mother wasn’t able to see me do it.  See passed away two weeks before I was to leave for Boston,” Fuke said.

    Fuke’s mother died of lung cancer at age 68.  “Although she didn’t exercise she understood how much I loved running, so she and her husband helped pay for my trip,” she said.

    At Boston Fuke managed to ward off the cold 43 degree weather and finish the race in 3:48 which gave her another Boston qualifying time.  “I had such a great time doing Boston that I’d like to come back again despite the cost and next time I’d like to bring my two daughters so that they can experience all that Boston has to offer,” she said.

     “Running Boston was something I never thought would be possible.  Boston is the pinnacle of marathons and being able to say that I did it is wonderful,” she said.

     Fuke had no expectations going into the race and just wanted to enjoy the experience and all the festivities that go along with the Boston magic.

    “The main reason I started running was that I was starting to put on weight and I loved my junk food.  It was just easier to exercise than to give up chocolate,” Fuke said with a grin.

    “My reasons have since changed, I run to stay healthy both physically and mentally, and because I want to be a good role model for my daughters, Ashley and Grace.”

   “Since I’m older now I try to eat better, I still do eat chocolate and chips, but I’ve bought a food processor so I can puree my vegetables and sneak it into other main dishes.  This way the girls will eat it too,” Fuke said.

   “I try to stay away from processed foods, but sometimes it’s hard when we’re in a time crunch.  If we do eat fast foods I try and eat smaller portions and I stay away from juices or soda,” she said.

   “I want to be around to watch my daughters grow up so I will continue to run, eat healthy, have regular checkups, use sun screen and not smoke.  We only have one body so we have a responsibility to take care of it as best as we can,” Fuke said.

   Part of Fuke’s success comes from the large network of support that she gets from family and friends.  “When I completed the Kona Marathon my husband, Gene, was there to congratulate me along with several other friends.”

    “I am also fortunate enough to have many other friends to run and train with and I’d like to say thank you to them as well.”

     And with her success Cindy Fuke has also tacked on the New York and Chicago Marathons to her “marathon to do” list.

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Marathon Running, Profiles | , , , | 1 Comment

11 Big Islanders finish Boston Marathon

Hrynevych, Neilsen, Fuentes, Perry & Ryan were among 11 Big Island residents to run in the 113th Boston Marathon

Hrynevych, Neilsen, Fuentes, Perry & Ryan were among 11 Big Island residents to run in the 113th Boston Marathon

    Laupahoehoe’s Alan Ryan topped the list of eleven Big Island runners completing the Boston Marathon on Monday.

     Ryan, who had won the 2008 Kilauea Volcano Marathon, ran the Boston course in 2 hours 51 minutes and 41 seconds to finish in 552 overall out of 26,331 registered participants in the prestigious event.

    In December 2008 Ryan ran the Honolulu Marathon in 2:54:27 which qualified him to run in Boston.  This was only his second appearance in Bean Town where he ran in the 2007 race.

   Ryan’s trip was made possible through South Pacific Steel who sponsored the Laupahoehoe native’s appearance at Boston.

   “My sponsors have provided tremendous support in getting me to the races on my schedule.  The people at South Pacific Steel, Les, John and Nicole, have given me a golden opportunity to reach my full potential.  I would like to thank them and I feel that this avenue is a good way to do that,” Ryan said.

    Volcano’s Lyman Perry was second for Big Islanders clocking in at 2:50:01. “I had a really good day,” Perry said after the race.  “It was about 43 degrees at the start and it got windy as the day went on.  I thought it was a good day for running, although it was pretty cold.”

    Perry, who completed his sixth Boston Marathon, ran conservative during the first half of the race, clocking just under 1:30 at the mid-way point.  “I ran smart in the beginning and during the second half of the race was able to pass a lot of people,” he said.

    Originally from Boston, Perry was able to see his parents and sisters during the race, along with the more than 1.5 million spectators that lined the 26.2 mile course.

    “Running Boston is a wonderful experience that every runner should try at least once in their lifetime.  There is nothing like it as the crowds and the professional manner in which the race is organized is the best by far,” Perry said.

   The youngest Big Island finisher was Hilo’s Barret Schlegelmilch, age 19, who is a 2007 graduate of St. Joseph High School.

   Schlegelmilch, who attends UCLA, took the day off from school to run in Boston and he needed to fly out right after the race as not to miss classes on Tuesday.

   “I missed two lectures by being here today, but my professors were very supportive of my running Boston that they provided me with the notes from the classes I missed,” he said. 

   Schlegelmilch qualified to run Boston by doing the Seattle Marathon in November, finishing with a time of 3:10:52.  “I barely made the qualifying time by seven seconds,” he said.  “This was my eighth marathon and by far my favorite one.  The crowd was fantastic and running through Wellesley College was my favorite part.

   “I’d like to come back next year and every year thereafter as this as this is a fantastic event.  Next time I run Boston I’m going to stop and kiss one of the girls at Wellesley,” he said.

   Schlegelmilch did feel a little deceived by the Boston course map that was provided.  “I saw these little tiny bumps on the course map and they turned into huge hills,” he said.  “Next time I’ll know what to expect and I’m sure I’ll do better.”

    Hilo’s Cindy Fuke was impressed with running her first ever Boston and only her fifth total marathon.  “It was really nice doing this race.  The crowds were terrific and the city is absolutely beautiful,” she said.

   “I just wasn’t expecting it to be that cold and when we started running into the city there was a strong head wind.  It was a much tougher race than I thought it would be, but I think the cold and the wind had a lot to do with it being difficult,” Fuke said.

    Despite the wind and rain Fuke ran another Boston qualifying time by being under the required time for her gender and age of 3:50.

   “I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to come back as it is far from Hawaii and costly to travel, but we are certainly enjoying every bit of this trip,” Fuke said.

   Waimea’s Michael Hrynevych went into Boston with serious reservations about running the race as he had twisted his left knee in January which caused him to cut back on his training.

   “My expectation going into the race was not high as I had hoped to run under 3:30,” he said.  “During the race the knee didn’t hurt, but I still ran conservatively hitting the half-way point just under 1:32,” Hrynevych said.

   “I wasn’t as race prepared as I would have been and in some ways I feel I cheated on this marathon,” he said.  Despite his self-criticism Hrynevych was still able to finish in 3:13, just two minutes slower than his best time at Boston.

   “The knee is a little swollen right now,” and I’m taking some Ibuprofen for it, but all in all it’s been a good day with no blisters and no chaffing,” Hrynevych said.

    Hilo physicians Aaron Morita and Harvey Nakamura ran their first Boston Marathon using a Continuing Medical Education (CME) exemption to get into the race.

   “It was a great race with good community support and a tremendous way to see portions of Massachusetts,” Morita said.

   “I pushed myself too hard in the beginning and by the time I hit Heartbreak Hill, it lived up to its name,” he said.

    Morita wore a singlet over a long sleeve shirt during the race which had the word “HILO” on the back and he wrote “Aaron from Hawaii” on the front.  “Many people yelled my name and said aloha which was fun for me,” Morita said.

   “It was a great race and afterwards I got a finisher’s medal which made it even more special,” he said.  On Tuesday Morita flies out to Philadelphia where he will be taking another CME course on Wednesday before heading back to Hilo.

   The overall winners at Boston were Deriba Merga of Ethiopia for the men in 2:08:42 and Salina Kosgei of Kenya for the women in 2:32:16.  American Ryan Hall finished third overall in 2:09:40 while Kara Goucher of the US also claimed third for the women in 2:32:25.

Big Island Runners Completing the Boston Marathon





Broderick, Stacia



Kamuela    3:51:54


Fuentes, Carlos



Waikoloa   3:25:05


Fuke, Cindy



Hilo           3:48:37


Hrynevych, Michael



Kamuela    3:13:32

Morita, Aaron H.



Hilo      5:13:42


Nakamura, Harvey T.



Hilo      4:20:59


Neilsen, Eric





Pavao, Steven G.



M     Hilo 3:43:14



Perry, Lyman



Volcano 2:59:01


Ryan, Alan





Schlegelmilch, Barret



Hilo 3:34:02



April 21, 2009 Posted by | Events, Health and Fitness, Marathon Running | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment