One of my favourite things to do if I can when I travel is to jump into a local road race. It’s such a great way to experience being part of the local community as opposed to viewing it from the outside as a regular tourist. I had this opportunity recently in Maui, Hawaii. I was there with my family on vacation, so I randomly looked up local races. It turned out there was a 5 km not far from where we were staying. The race was the 2nd Annual Kraig Vickers Honor Run. That’s all I needed to know. I’d work out the details of registering, getting there, getting my family there, fitting it into my formal training schedule later. I was going to do this race.
As the race day approached, I started to look more closely at the details. It took place at 7:30 a.m. I had missed the preregistration so I would have to register on the day. Registration started at 6:00 a.m. That was sounding pretty early to get my four-year old and six year-old there happily with my husband. I also noticed that the race day fell on my prescribed workout day of “fartlek long run up to 20 km”. Then my mind started turning … YES! The perfect solution: I would run the 9 km to the start and my husband could join an hour and a half later with the kids.
I jogged slowly over at 5:30 a.m. enjoying the sunrise. I got there in plenty of time to register and hang out and soak in the atmosphere. Kraig Vickers had been a highly decorated Naval Special Warfare Operator whose helicopter had been shot down over Afghanistan. His friends and family were all at the event with his father giving an opening prayer which made it extremely emotional. Then the taiko drummers started playing and I got serious goosebumps. If you’ve ever seen and heard a taiko drumming performance you know it’s a very powerful experience.
Pretty soon it was time to line up at the start. I love 5 km’s in the U.S. because they always have them counted in miles as well and three sounds so easy. Just three little miles. Well, as usual, time and distance are relative based on how much you’re hurting. Luckily I knew my family was waiting at the halfway point, so I put on a happy face at mile 1.5.
The last mile felt tough because my brain always thinks that a mile and a kilometer are not that different and then it takes so much longer to run a final mile than a final kilometer! I finally reached the finish line in a time of 18:41 and was the first woman. This event had a lot of what they call “Aloha spirit” meaning basically kindness and generosity. Although most people seemed to know each other, they were very friendly and welcoming to outsiders. They made me feel part of the community which is such a welcome feeling when you’re traveling.
The race bibs all had food tickets on them which were supplied by local services. They had hot dogs, fruit, shaved ice and ice cream.
One runner upon seeing that I had two kids with me, immediately gave me his shaved ice and ice cream tickets. That is called “Aloha”.
Feeling the Aloha post-race
The race was followed by a day spent surfing and swimming at the beach and was capped off with a 5 km jog at sunset (I had to get in my 20 km for the day – not sure if that’s exactly what my coach meant by “20km fartlek”).
So remember to share the spirit, and when you see strangers at your local races, be sure to spread the “Aloha”!