Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Big Island International Marathon Early Bird Nov 1st

The 14th Annual Big Island International Marathon scheduled for March 20, 2011 is many months away, but the deadline to save 50 percent off anyone of their three races is only days away.

Each year the marathon (26.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles) and 5K (3.1 miles) afford participants half off the entry fee by signing up early.

To receive the discount participants must mail in their entries and have it postmarked no later than Nov 1st, according to BIIM treasurer David Hammes.

Hammes, also known as the “tortoise” because of his high level of perseverance and lack of speed finishing, is one of only four people who have done the 13 previous full marathon races.

“I may be slow, but I finish whatever I start,” Hammes said.

Along with Hammes are Hilo’s D.J. Blinn and Kona’s Ken “Cowman” Shirk along with the only woman, Hilo’s Marie Kuramoto, who have completed all the previous BIIM races.

Kuramoto, a cancer survivor and in her mid 60’s, has for a number of years, been donating the entry fees for two high school kids in need. 


“Hilo is my favorite marathon course in the state,” Kuramoto said.  “My providing entry fee for two kids each year is just my way of giving back to the sport that I love.”

The original Hilo Marathon went from 1975 to 1987 before disappearing until 1997 when businessmen Roland Higashi of Creative Arts and George Miyashiro of Jack’s Tours recruited the help of Karl Kunz and the Big Dog to design and host another 26.2 mile race for East Hawaii.

Kunz was partially responsible for designing the new marathon course which takes runners and walkers from Pepeekeo, along the 4 mile scenic drive, and follows along Hilo Bayfront until heading out to the National Guard Armory, out to Keaukaha and Kings Landing before returning to Bayfront.

Instrumental in measuring and certifying the course is HELCO engineer, Curt Beck, who meticulously measured every inch in order to have the course certified as a Boston Marathon qualifier.

Three years ago BIIM added a half marathon and it was Beck who again went out and measured the course to have the half certified as well.

“The half marathon has turned out to be our most popular race which has sold out in each of the previous two years,” Beck said.

Adding to the morning of events is a 3.1 mile walk or run which takes participants along Hilo Bay out to the Ice Ponds and back to Bayfront.

The full marathon entry cost is $80, the half is $60 and the 5K is $25, but anyone who signs up between now and Nov 1st that mails in their entries can take 50 percent off that entry fee.

Of course nothing can ever be accomplished without the hundreds of volunteers that continue to support the BIIM event.

Since 2004 Waiakea’s Kari Sato has been providing the ‘student’ power that number just a few Key Clubbers in the early years to over a hundred in recent times.

Key Club

The Waiakea Key Club managed eight of the fourteen aid station during the 2010 race and have once again agreed to provide support.

Other school groups that have volunteered to help along with the Waiakea Key Club and Interact Club are Hilo High Key Club, Hilo Intermediate Builders and the Waiakea Intermediate Builders.

”We keep helping because we know the need for community service is there and because the runners are always so appreciative,” Sato said. 

Sato also enjoys having her members get up close to seeing a marathon and the effort put forth in those that participate.

“Many in our group will probably never see a marathon because they are not runners,” she said.  “This is a good project for us because it is different from most of our other projects.  This one involves more than just direct manpower and supervisory assistance as we get to interact with the running participants, up-close and personal.”

More than 900 runners are expected in the March 20, 2011 race with over 300 people behind the scenes making it possible to put on a quality event.

If you’d like to take part in this event remember, you can save half off the price of admission by filling out your entry application now and mailing it in prior to the Nov. 1st deadline.

Last year the full marathon and half marathon sold out three weeks prior to the race.


Coming up on Thursday, Nov 11, is Big Dog’s Veterans Day 5K run/walk starting at 7:30 am from the parking area of Coconut Island in Hilo.

Big Dog Productions will commemorate Veteran’s Day and honor those that served our country with a fitness walk or run with the price of admission being a canned good to be donated to the Hawaii Island Food Basket.

According to Food Basket Director, Alton Nosaka, the Food Basket is in need of fruit and vegetable canned goods.

Post race refreshments will be provided by Jerry Chang and Vidration sports drinks provided by Keith Aoki of Anheuser-Busch, while supplies last.

For more information on the Vet Day event call 969-7400.

And someday should you happen to see a happy veteran jogging through the streets of East Hawaii remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

October 25, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Big Island’s “Final Four” doing BIIM’s Early Bird

Cowman, Marie Kuramoto, DJ Blinn and David Hammes are the "Final Four"

Cowman, Marie Kuramoto, DJ Blinn and David Hammes are the "Final Four"

The “Final Four” are back!  I know when you hear that term, Final Four, your mind must go directly to college basketball, but for us marathoners the Final Four refers to DJ Blinn, David Hammes, Marie Kuramoto and Ken Shirk (Cowman).

    Those four marathoners are the only ones that have done all 12 previous Big Island International Marathons and they have already sent in their entry fees to run in number 13 to be held on March 21, 2010.

   Why did they sign up so early, with the race nearly five months away?  All four marathoners have taken advantage of the fifty percent discount “Early Bird” entry that is offered each year to people that mail in their applications prior to November 1st.

   The BIIM (or Hilo Marathon as it is affectionately called) was established in 1997 when businessmen Roland Higashi of Creative Arts and George Miyashiro of Jack’s Tours recruited the help of Karl Kunz and the Big Dog to design and put on a 26.2-mile marathon race.

   Miyashiro has long since retired and Kunz returned to Thailand to resume an agricultural consultant business leaving Higashi and Big Dog to continue the event into its 13th year.

   Higashi serves on the BIIM board of directors as its president and the Big Dog, who had ran in the first 8 BII marathons, has been the race director for the past four races.

   “We’ve seen many changes over the years as we continue to look for ways to improve and enhance one of the most beautiful marathon courses in the world,” Higashi said.

   Many runners agree with Higashi’s assessment, that this marathon course is one of the most scenic in the world. 

   The marathon, along with a certified half-marathon, begins in Pepeekeo at 6 a.m.  The course uses the Scenic 4-mile Route and winds through Papaikou, Honolii, and Wainaku as it makes its way back into Hilo.

   The half-marathoners will run to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel and return back to the Bayfront finish line. The marathoners continue out to the Airport, National Guard Armory, and then head out to Richardson Beach Park before heading back to Bayfront while following along the beautiful Hilo coastline.

  Don’t feel like running a full or half marathon, the BIIM also offers a 5K (3.1-mile) run/walk that starts and ends at Hilo Bayfront.  The 5K runners head out to the Ice Ponds, going over the Suisan Bridge before returning to Bayfront.

    The regular entry fee for the marathon, $80; the half-marathon, $60; and the 5K $25 is for the next six days discounted by 50 percent if mailed and postmarked by November 1st.

   The “Final Four” marathoners are excited to be entered in the 13th annual event.  “This is my favorite marathon course in the state,” Kuramoto said.

   Kuramoto enjoys sharing the aloha spirit with others and has made numerous friends while doing the race.  “My greatest feeling of accomplishment lately hasn’t been in crossing the finish line but rather who I have been training with that matters,” she said.

   “I love to see people return to Hilo to do the BIIM.  It’s great that we have a beautiful course and that it is right in my backyard.  The volunteers, behind the scenes, and the many people that come out to cheer us on has been wonderful,” Kuramoto said.

   Kuramoto completed her 65th marathon while on Kauai where she placed in her 60 to 64 age division.  For both the Kona and BIIM Kuramoto holds the age group records as she continues to demonstrate that when it comes to running marathons, age doesn’t matter.

   Besides being a good distance runner Kuramoto also supports the sport for younger runners as she is sponsoring the entry fees for two University of Hawaii runners and continues to pay the entry fees for two Waiakea High School student runners.

  Hammes, an Economics Professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, just completed his 36 marathon when he traveled to Corning, New York to do the Wineglass Marathon.

   Hammes, who sits on the BIIM Board of Directors and serves as their treasurer, enjoys running the 26.2 mile race in Hilo each year.

   “It’s our hometown marathon and it is a very nice course for most of the miles,” he said.  “I used to finish near-last and now I’m starting to move up just a bit.”

   One thing the “final four” runners all have in common is their love for the sport of running as they share their aloha with others.

   “It is always fun to run it (BIIM) and then speak with the first timers who bring fresh eyes and experiences to the run,” Hammes said.

    Time is running out on getting 50 percent off on any of the three races hosted by BIIM on March 21, 2010.  For more information go to www.hilomarathon.org or call 969-7400.

October 26, 2009 Posted by | Events, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment