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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Volunteers “Key” to Big Island Marathon Success

Kari Sato's WHS Key Club played a major role in the success of BIIM

   Months of preparation all came to a culmination on Sunday with the running of the 13th annual Big Island International Marathon, half-marathon and 5K run/walk.

   Visitors from all over the world came to Hilo to participate in the fitness event and were treated to one of the most scenic and challenging marathon courses around.

   Behind the scenes over 300 volunteers did their part to insure a successful race for more than 850 participants.

   Over 100 volunteers came from the Waiakea High School Key Club under the direction of head advisor, Kari Sato.

   Sato and her ‘Key Clubbers’ managed eight of the 14 aid stations located along the 26.2 mile marathon course, handing out water, cold sponges, sports drinks and gels. 

   The aid stations provided the much needed hydration to the marathon and half marathon runners and Sato has taken on the added responsibility of coordinating the supplies, from ice to trash bags, for all the stations.

   “We have been participating with the marathon since 2004,” Sato said.  “We started with just one aid station and then the following year we did two and this year we’ve done 8 aid stations.”

   Sato and her WHS Key Club crew play an important role in helping, not just with aid stations, but also with assistance in setting up the finish area and again with the clean up and take down of tents after the races are over.

   “I think we keep helping because we know the need for community service is there and because the runners are always so appreciative,” Sato said.  “The students also like to cheer on friends, family members or even teachers that they recognize on the course.”

   “Many of our members get to see the marathon up close where they probably never would because they aren’t runners,” Sato said.  “Another plus for us is that it is different from most of our other projects. This one involves more than just direct manpower (muscle power), and supervisory (directing people to the correct area) but we get to interact with the runners up close and personal.

  One of those Key Club helpers, Nick Jack, probably said it best when talking about all the volunteer work that they do for our community when he said, “it’ll probably put us on Santa’s good list.”

   Along with the Waiakea Key Club and Interact Club other school groups came forward to volunteer in helping which included the Hilo High Key Club under advisor Charlene Masuhara, the Hilo Intermediate Builders with advisor Alson Sakamoto, Waiakea Inter Builders and advisor Barbara Austen, and a group from Keaau High with advisor Donna Wong Yuen.

   Roy Kagawa and the Kiwanis did the entire course marshaling along the 26.2 miles. The HSTA-Retired teachers helped take care of distribution of finisher tee-shirts and medals. Clarita Corpuz’s group of hardworking RSVP members did a variety of task.  Various community groups handled the early morning aid stations during the first 8 miles of the course.

   Jaime Guerpo, coach of the University of Hawaii at Hilo cross-country team, and UHH sports information officer, Kelly Leong, led a group of Vulcan runners in two large trucks to place hundreds of traffic cones and dozens of barricades necessary to insure a safe and runner friendly race.

   Guerpo and his crew needed to be out by 2 am on race day to start their difficult task and they were out again by mid-day to collect everything to return back to both the State and County transportation base yards.

   Many other individuals volunteered to take on a variety of tasks which required them to wake up during the wee hours of the morning so that they could be at their post to make sure everything ran smoothly for our participants.

  The County once again played an instrumental role in the success of the marathon by becoming the title sponsor along with providing the five buses needed to transport the marathon and half marathon runners to the starting line in Pepeekeo beginning at 4:30 in the morning.

   Three buses appeared at the parking lot near Pauahi Street and two were at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.  All were filled to capacity and had to make double runs to help get over 600 people to the Kulaimano Community Center in time for the 6 am start.

   KTA Super Stores and Big Island Candies continued to be Gold Sponsors for all 13 years as they show their love for community with their generosity.

   There are not enough words or space to properly acknowledge everyone that contributed in some way to this event.

   A race cannot be done without the many individuals and groups working to insure a quality product. As race director I am extremely grateful to everyone that made this race a success.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Marathon Running, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Sunday saw the running of the Big Island International Marathon as more than 800 runners, walkers and joggers enjoyed the beauty of East Hawaii while getting in a good morning workout.
Behind the scenes more than 250 volunteers worked to ensure that the races would run smoothly and efficiently.
University of Hawaii at Hilo cross-country coach, Jaime Guerpo, got an early start on setting up the course by picking up nearly 400 cones from both the county and state transportation departments on Friday afternoon.
Guerpo, along with several of his cross-country runners, loaded two trucks in preparation for their early Sunday morning workout.
The group started at 2 am Sunday morning, with one truck taking the first 13-miles of the course and the other the second half of the race.
“Our team wanted to get involved in a community project and thought that helping in the marathon would be a good thing to do,” Guerpo said.
After all the cones and barricades were put out by the UHH team the group took a short break before heading out to Pepeekeo at 9 am to start picking everything up. This morning they were back at the county and state transportation facilities returning everything they had borrow three days earlier.
Clarita Corpuz and her workers from RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) started helping on Thursday when a large group came to the BIIM office to help put runner’s packets together.
On Saturday, RSVP volunteers working in two shifts, helped distribute race materials to the runners and walkers at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. And on Sunday another two groups came to the finish line to distribute T-shirts and to cut oranges and papayas that went to help feed the participants.
“We’ve helped the marathon for all 12 years,” Corpuz said. “It’s something that we look forward to doing every year.”
Firefighter Joe Wedemann got off work at 7 am Saturday morning then spent the rest of the day loading all the finish line equipment. Wedemann, with the help of Waiakea Kiwanis then assembled the tents, tables, chairs and race chute in preparation for Sunday’s event.
Wedemann and another group of WHS Kiwanis returned Sunday to take everything down and needed to return the materials back into storage.
More than 80 members of the Waiakea Key Club were on hand to help with eight of the 12 aid stations that covered the 26.2-mile marathon course. Adviser Kari Sato has made the BIIM a major project for the key clubbers for the past four years and the group has been instrumental is aiding in the success of the event.
“We really started preparing for this event several months in advance and the students and adult advisors put in a good number of hours in making this a successful project each year,” she said.
Roy Kagawa, Kiwanis, has been the Director of Course Marshals for the past four years and during the race drives the entire 26.2-mile course to insure that all his volunteers are in the right place at the right time.
Course designer and HELCO engineer, Curt Beck, placed all the mile and kilometer markers out on the roads at a very early hour, then went to the starting line to provide the opening remarks to the marathon and half-marathon runners at Pepeekeo.
“This was the first year we had the half-marathon and the runners loved the course as we got a lot of compliments after the race,” Beck said.
Several other community groups helped with aid stations during the first half of the course and their leaders included Susan Munro, Lorraine Mendoza, May Navarro and G.A. Rock.
Three major sponsors of the event have been supportive of the marathon since its inception in 1997 and have made large contributions to insure its success. The County of Hawaii, Research & Development, KTA Super Stores, and Big Island Candies have all been a part of BIIM and have watched the race grow by leaps and bounds over the past four years.
Coming up on Good Friday, April 10, is the annual Emily Wedeman Memorial 5-mile run.
Wedeman was a “super volunteer” for running events and spent many weekends provided the behind the scenes support that is so valuable to a successful event.
Wedeman lost her battle with cancer and died three years ago on Good Friday and the 5-miler is named in her honor.
The event begins at 7:30 a.m. in the parking area of Moku Ola, Coconut Island, and participants are charged $2 with proceeds being donated to the American Cancer Society.
For questions call 969-7400 or go to http://www.waynejoseph.wordpress.com…..
Volunteers are the key to any successful organization and BIIM would like to extend their sincere appreciation to the many people who worked behind the scenes to make this year’s event a memorable one.
And someday should you happen to see a happy and appreciative race director come running through the streets of East Hawaii remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Events, Health and Fitness, Marathon Running, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , | 3 Comments