It rained briefly on Saturday morning, where misty low hanging clouds hovered over the mountains in Koloa as people lined up for the race. It’s been 20 years since the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run first started and this year was the first time it has been held since the COVID-19 pandemic after a three-year hiatus.
The race was organized by the Rotary Club of Kauai with proceeds from the event helping to support scholarships to the University of Hawai‘i at Kauai Community College and the RYLA Rotary Youth Leadership camp for high schoolers. The Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run is sponsored by Wilcox Health, Corteva Agriscience and the County of Kauai.
More than 300 participants met at Anne Knudsen Park in Koloa for the event, which featured a 5K, 10K, and half marathon runs and a 5K walk on Saturday.
Race Director Tom Lodico talked about the origin of the event.
“It was started by a fitness trainer, Pamela Cruz, she started the run and was working on it for the same reasons that people needed a run — to practice. And there (were) a lot of requests from people off island who wanted to run. We started it with the 5K and the 10K and 10 mile. We started the half marathon a few years later,” Lodico said.
“I have been the director of the run for 20 years now. It’s been fantastic. We grew from a couple hundred runners to (500) to 600 runners … We have some people come from countries in Europe and some people come from Australia and some people come from Japan.”
The race started off with the half marathon run at 7 a.m., which went down Koloa Bypass from where Maluhia Road and the bypass meet, along Poipu Road to the beach. The first turnaround was at Ala Kalani Kaumaka street, after which the course went back down past the beach until it reached the second turnaround point on Poipu Road.
First to arrive at the finish line were those participating in the 5K run. Travis Parker of Lawai was the first place finisher of the 5K run with a time of 20 minutes, 5 seconds. He was in the 40-49 male age division. First place in the 5K walk was Ethan Shurick of Issaquah, Washington, who came in at 32 minutes, 52 seconds in the male division.
Renato Desouza of Lihue came sailing through to the finish line, coming in first place for the 10K run at 38 minutes, 37 seconds and was in the 50-59 male age division. DeSouza is a both a high school cross-country coach and track coach and is on a running team.
He talks about his experience on race day.
“It was great, it was cloudy so it wasn’t too hot, probably 50 miles per hour gust of win, which was great on the way back,” Desouza said.
“I am training for the Honolulu Marathon, so this is somewhere along the lines of that training. I try to train in the early afternoon or the early morning, each day it’s a different exercise, Sundays are the long day run, two and a half hours, three hours. During the week is more like intervals and speed work.”
Powering through to the finish line for the half marathon was first place winner Odeelo Dayondon of Pearl City with a time of 1 hour, 29 minutes and 3 seconds. He was in the 30-39 male age division.
“It was a beautiful course, you run through lots of green grass, saw a couple horses, I was very tempted to stop. There’s a lot of people cheering along the way, so that helps to keep your spirits up,” Dayondon said. “The course was mostly flat, there were a couple rollers. I do like hills, so it played to my strengths. Great course, cool temperatures, it helped a lot.”
Dayondon also reflected on other races he has ran.
“Earlier this year I did a half marathon in Hilo, did a half marathon back home, I did one on Maui before, a couple years ago. Just wanted to check off Kauai,” he said.
Dayondon added, “My first race was the Great Aloha Run in 2013 and I’ve been running nearly 20 years. Done 16 marathons total. Three full ironmans. I’ve been very active with the exception of COVID. Last year, I did zero races. Unheard of in my 20 years of competing, I usually do one a month, so a total of 13 races a year.”
Ryan Fussell, president-elect of Rotary Club of Kauai, was one of the organizers. He spoke of the work that went into putting on the event.
“It’s been an eye-opening experience to say the least. A lot of moving pieces. A lot of people contribute to make this happen. Obviously, we can’t do it by ourselves. The community at Kukui Grove, Wilcox, all the volunteers here today, and others, without them this wouldn’t be possible,” Fussell said.
Source: The Garden Island