Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Keaau’s Joe Barcia taking risks and learning from mistakes

Taking risk, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes are all part of life that we can learn through sports participation.

Keaau’s Joe Barcia has taken his share of risk and made more than a fair amount of mistakes, but has come out on top in the game of life.

Barcia became a quick study in learning about external motivation when at age 7 his father offer to buy him and his 9 year old brother, Dan, a boat to use in the canal in Kailua on the island of Oahu if they would train and compete in the Hilo Marathon.

The year was 1978 and the brothers, who were both learning the games of soccer, baseball and basketball, took their fathers boat offer and prepared to run a distance of 26.2 miles.

“I became the youngest marathon finisher in the State of Hawaii and I also beat my older brother by 7 minutes,” a proud Barcia said.

The seven year old completed his first marathon in 4 hours and 21 minutes, but his most excitable moment came on what he found that morning along the roadway.

“During the race I yelled out in excitement to my dad, that I had found 11 cents,” Barcia recalled.

In 1981 Barcia returned to do the Hilo Marathon at the advanced age of 10 and took more than an hour off his finishing time, crossing the line in 3:13.

“At age 12 I had run 11 marathons,” Barcia said.  “I come from a family of 12 and we got swept up in the wave of running during the mid 1970’s as the family all went to the local Oahu races every Sunday and every one of us ran.”

Barcia’s father would pass out homemade donuts to everyone which also became part of the motivation for the Barcia family members.

“My sister, Kathy, at age 12 won the Kauai Marathon in 3 hour 21 minutes,” Barcia said.  “She went on to run the Boston Marathon in 3:03.”

According to Barcia his love for sports caused him to place his education on the backburner.

“I became somewhat lost in high school and lacked the goals or direction, so I dropped out of Iolani and chose to go to Kalaheo instead,” he said.  “At Kalaheo I knew I could surf a lot more as I became quite skilled in cutting school, smoking, drinking and running away from home.”

Barcia placed a high priority on surfing as he went through what he called ‘lost periods’ in his life.

“After testing my parents, and the law, my parents yanked me out of school and I went to drug treatment with a bunch of old guys for 6 months,” Barcia said.  “Seeds were planted and with my girlfriend’s ultimatum and Narcotics Anonymous, I got clean and sober on April 15, 1989 and I haven’t drank or used drugs since then.”

In 1991 Barcia and that helpful girlfriend took an enormous risk and moved to Paradise Park in Keaau with no job and no money.

“At a friend’s suggestion, in late 1991, I started Windward Yard Service,” Barcia said.  “We manage landscapes and trim trees in East Hawaii.”

Barcia chose a highly physically demanding profession and with it the pressures and stress of owning a business.

“It is both physically and mentally challenging,” Barcia said.  “My wonderful wife of 19 years, Celeste, does all the bookkeeping and has provided us with three great kids, Sage, 17, Sydney, 14, and Hayley, 14.

And if you readers are wondering, yes, that encouraging and helpful girlfriend in Barcia’s past is now his wife.

But the story doesn’t end here, it only begins, as this highly motivated, risk taking middle aged man recently took on another immense challenge in his life.

Barcia, with his incredible athletic gift, watched his sister, Amy Harpstrite, finish her first Kona Ironman last year and decided to see if he was up for the challenge.

“I tried the Honu Half Ironman in June of this year and after cramping up and doing poorly on the run, said no to trying for Ironman,” Barcia said.

But as fate would have it Barcia received a lottery slot to the World Championships of Triathlons and still need time to decide.

“I went to Tahiti on a surfing trip with some of my family and there I was given a book written by two time Ironman winner Chris McCormack, called I’m here to win,” Barcia explained. 

While in Tahiti Barcia went on a mid day 16 mile run and hydrated with coconut water and bananas.  The proper hydration, along with reading McCormack’s book gave Barcia the answer he was looking for.

“Having a successful training run gave me the confidence I needed,” Barcia said.

Barcia began to juggle work with Ironman training over the course of the past several months, which was no easy task.

“I wanted to be able to race Ironman comfortably, as I didn’t want to be able to survive the Ironman,” Barcia said.  “My first priority is supporting my family, so training had to be fit in around my work.”

Barcia, the risk taker, not only completed the Ironman World Championships on Oct 8, he did it comfortably.

I admire Joe Barcia for his ability to live life fully and to take risks while doing it.

Barcia was given a challenging path to take and he has made the most of the situation while keeping his focus on what is important to him, his family.

And someday should you happen to see a blessed family man jogging around the streets of Hawaiian Paradise Park remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”


November 14, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Decimal Man a Joe Wedemann Invention

Decimal Man Clock

DECIMAL MAN a Joe Wedemann Invention/Production

Joe Wedemann is the architect of the Decimal Man triathlon. Adam Busek came up with the name, Mike Fairchild came up with the idea when he started the “Coconut Man” Triathlon in the ’90’s. Mike was into Ironman and wanted to put a shorter “East Side” event on for his birthday. After several consecutive years, his event grew too big for him to participate and get away without permitting or requesting approval from Parks and Rec’s, Road Division, etc.

Eddie Ombac continued a short triathlon starting from Richardson’s for a few years after Mike’s races. Wedemann started his in the same fashion in 2003.

Due to time constraints with Wedemann’s Fire Department job, he was not able to have the race every year on his birthday, so he had to move the dates around as needed.

“Recently, I have been putting the race on about once every 2 months with the big she-bang in January to kick off my birthday and the start of the New Year,” Wedeman said.


To make the race “do-able” for beginners, the distance is 1/10th that of Ironman World Championship. .24 mile swim – 11.2 mile bike – 2.62 mile run, since you just have to move the decimal over, according to Wedemann.

“ Adam said we should call it “The Decimal Man.”  I don’t charge anything for the race but do accept 1 gallon of Clorox bleach as a donation to treat my 25 meter pool where the swim takes place,” Wedemann said.

The 11.2 bike course is a Tour de Paradise Park as it circles the park from 26th to Beach Rd, Kaloli to Makuu. The 1/10th Marathon run is a one loop run from 26th to 27th between Paradise and Kaloli finishing with a victory lap around a 1/7th mile cinder track bordering my property.

Transitions are included, so there is a short run from the swim to the bike.

This is a great distance for beginners to get a taste of the “Real Deal” (Ironman), according to Wedemann.

“Anyone is welcome. I’ve never met a tri athlete that I didn’t like. Potluck BBQ lunch follows the race so if anyone wants to bring a dish and stick around, they are welcome. Many friends bring their families and make a day of it after the race,” Wedemann said.

Start time is usually 9:30 am, so I ask first time racers to be at my house at 9:00 am to get familiarized.

The race is usually over in less than 1 1/2 hours for beginners to just under an hour for the winning times.

Wedemann ask that participants use Helmets on the bike and practice safe bicycle riding and courtesy, as the roads are open to the public.

The next race is Sunday June 5th at 9:30 am. Interested parties may contact Wedemann by email  joeveronicawedemann@yahoo.com

May 28, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hilo’s Bahurinsky had an Athletically Achieving 2009

Morgen Buhurinsky - Ironwoman

Hats off to Morgen Buhurinsky for having a fantastic 2009 in achieving many of her athletic goals.  What is even more impressive is that this woman is 61 years young and capable of accomplishing much more than most people half her age.

In 2009 Buhurinsky completed the following:

            3 full marathons (26.2 miles x 3 = 78.6)

            49 K (24.8 mile) bicycling time trial

            ½ Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run)

            3 swim races (1.0+1.2+2.38 = 4.38)

            Full Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 marathon run)

“I’ve learned how much stamina and endurance I really have.  I have gained so much more strength through all of this and can push harder than ever before to complete my goals.  I will continue to train at this level seeking another slot at Ironman Kona 2010.  This year I don’t expect to nearly die at the Honu trying to qualify.  I’m so far ahead of last year.  But as we say in cycling, it doesn’t get any easier you just go faster,” she said.

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Cyclist, Running on the Big Island | , , | Leave a comment