Hildegard Miyashiro, 2012 Kaua`i Half Marathon winner for over 50 age group; Bob Craver, Race Director and Chelsea Smith-Wishard, second place finisher of the 2012  half marathon. Photo by Bernard Gosset

Hildegard Miyashiro, 2012 Kaua`i Half Marathon winner for over 50 age group; Bob Craver, Race Director and Chelsea Smith-Wishard, second place finisher of the 2012 half marathon. Photo by Bernard Gosset

 By Lois Ann Ell

The morning sun spreads its first rays of light across the island as Hildagarde Miyashiro, clad in bright running attire, flashes a quick smile before biting into a lychee. She’s been up for hours, already having run 10 miles and trained in her Kapahi gym while most on island are still in slumber. She’s training for the Kaua`i Half Marathon on September 1, which she has participated in every year since it began in 2009.

This race will put Miyashiro at having completed over 50 races. Just 10 years ago at age 40, upon having her first mammogram, she was diagnosed with cancer. After surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation and recovery, she ran into a high school classmate she hadn’t seen in years.

“She was buff; really fit. She was in a running group, and had just done a triathlon,” said Miyashiro. “I thought, you know, that’s exactly what I want to do.”

“From that 30 minute run it turned me into this crazy animal that I am now,” she said, grinning. Miyashiro, born and raised in Kalaheo, runs the Kaua`i half marathon rather than the full due to a knee injury she suffered running the Honolulu Marathon a few years back. For her it’s not so much the distance but the time she strives for. She currently runs a seven-minute mile.

“I’m always racing against myself, that’s what makes me better,” she said.

Miyashiro is one of many inspired to rise to the challenge. Bob Craver, Race Director of the Kaua`i Marathon, said that last year over 500 residents participated.

“What amazes me is the amount of Kaua`i residents who run this,” Craver said.

In addition, there are hundreds of others who flock from neighbor islands, 45 different states on the Mainland, and 13 countries.

Though not a runner, Craver has been the director of many events in the Islands since 1995. As he puts it: he organized the PGA Grand Slam but is a “horrible golfer;” he ran the Maui Music Festival but doesn’t play an instrument; he’s director of the Maui and Kaua`i Marathons, but doesn’t run. He is too busy tending to the plethora of details an event of this size demands.

One of the reasons Craver believes this event has been so successful is the support it has received over the years from the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste, the County, Kaua`i Police Department, the Kaua`i Visitor’s Bureau, and others.

Jeff Sacchini is founder the Kaua`i Marathon.

“He set this up to benefit the island,” Craver said. “Since the beginning, we have paid out over $40,000 to local non-profits.”

This year, they are raising the bar. First is the “One Grand Mile” Charity Campaign. According to a press release, for each mile-marker purchased for $1,000 along the half marathon course, Jeff and Liz Sacchini will match the dollar amount. One hundred percent of the monies raised will benefit non-profit organizations on Kaua`i in 2013.

Second is a program to benefit the youth of Kaua`i. Chelsea Smith-Wishard, cross country and track coach at Kaua`i High School, and in her third year working with the Kaua`i Marathon, explained that Tyler McCandless—the 2011 and 2012 Kaua`i Marathon champion—will be visiting schools on island to present the importance of health and physical exercise. He will also encourage participation in the first annual Fun Run and Keiki Race, which will be held on Saturday, August 31.

The elementary school that brings in the most runners for the Keiki Run will receive a $500 donation to their school. In addition, the sponsors of the event, Newton Running Shoes, will provide 90 pairs of shoes to youth participants in the Fun Run and the Keiki Run.

Smith-Wishard, who took second place in the half marathon, last year, said “this by far is one of the hardest courses I have ever heard of,” mostly due to three reasons: hills, heat, and humidity. “It’s definitely a good course to challenge yourself.”

She, Miyashiro and over a thousand others will be running across the rolling green hills in the early morning hours of September 1, with hundreds more on the side of the road cheering.

To register for the event or for more information, visit theKauaimarathon.com.

What new? 1st Annual Fun Run and Keiki Run

Saturday August 31, 2013

7:30 a.m.: Fun Run, starts at the end of Po`ipu Road

9:00 a.m.: Keiki Race starts at the far west side of the Grand Hyatt Kaua`i

Entry fee for Keiki Run is $10 in advance and $15 on race day, Fun run is free and open to everyone.