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A piece of paradise, by foot

For the first time, Jennifer Ihara-Takase ran in the Roots ‘n Shoots Fun Run at the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Saturday.

Let’s just say it made a lasting impression.

“Absolutely loving it,” the Lihue woman said. “It’s beautiful. All of our residents should come out and do this. It’s something you take for granted, but if you’ve never done it, you’re missing out.”

Kauai Marathon owner Jeff Sacchini had one bit of advance for the crowd before they set out on what he emphasized was not a competitive race, but strictly a fun run.

“Enjoy the beauty,” he said.

Pretty much, everyone did.

A record field of nearly 400 registered for the 5K run sponsored by NTGB and The Kauai Marathon. On a spectacular, sunny morning, serious runners, casual joggers and many walkers made their way through McBryde Garden and Allerton Garden.

They ran on the Biodiversity Trail — a winding, 800-foot path that showcases the evolution of Kauai plant life over the last 450 million years. Next, they passed by a rainforest, golden bamboo grove, tropical fruit trees, the Lawai Stream and were treated to views of the Pacific Ocean as they crossed a footbridge.

And at the end, they were rewarded with breakfast, music and a special wooden medallion, and talked story, of course.

It was a day to remember.

To celebrate her mom’s upcoming birthday, Sarah Rabot paid for her Roots ‘n Shoots entry fee.

Kay Rabot enjoyed seeing the beauty of the gardens up close and personal, all while walking with her daughter, which only made it about perfect.

“This is the first race I’ve ever been around,” Kay Rabot said. “This is absolutely gorgeous. I’m glad we came.”

Sarah said her mom loves to walk, so she was sure this would not only be a great gift, but a chance to share a morning together.

“We need more time like this, definitely,” Sarah Rabot said. “Time goes fast.”

Ursuline Munar jogged through the Roots ‘n Shoots course for the fourth time, and said she was feeling fabulous as she crossed the bridge over Lawai Stream. She knows what draws her back.

“The aina, the land, this helps me to be in touch with my home,” she said.

Members of the Poipu Power Walkers were there, too, including Debbie Gunning, Mathea Allansmith and Leyte Aguada, who kept up a brisk pace while chatting and enjoying the scenery.

“I feel energized and grateful,” Allansmith said as she looked around. “Mostly, I’m grateful.”

Aguada said it was her first time to get a chance to walk through Allerton and McBryde gardens.

“And I’ve been here since 1970,” she said.

So, what did she think?

“It’s paradise. This is truly paradise,” she said.

Volunteers played a key role from start to finish, directing runners, handing out finisher medallions and serving breakfast.

Jeannine Marin has volunteered all five years of Roots ‘n Shoots, and was out on the course Saturday. She drove a kupuna who tired back to the finish area, then returned to monitor others on the course who might need help.

Her favorite part is the camaraderie and spirit.

“It’s the community feeling of all of us being together,” she said.

Proceeds from Roots ‘n Shoots benefit The Kauai Marathon’s associated charities. Two, $500 scholarships were presented, one to Kauai High senior Kane Casillas and one to Kapaa High senior Nicolas Bloss.

Casillas has a final chance this Thursday to post qualifying times for the state track and field meet, in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters, just a few seconds off in each event.

“You can do it,” Sacchini said.

Casillas plans to attend Azusa Pacific University and perhaps pursue a career in journalism.

He said he was inspired to run by his late grandfather, Ernie Johnston, who was a 1960 state champion in New Jersey.

“He was a big role model for me,” Casillas said. “He was a really great man. I felt closer to him when I ran and it always felt really special to me.”

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Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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