We have events to accommodate all serious runners in the area, from the Big Island Marathon to the Hilo-to-Volcano ultra, and there are half-marathons, 10ks and 5ks, enough for dedicated runners all year.
But they aren’t the only ones out there for those hitting the streets for some exercise, even if it’s only a good walk in the morning.
For them, there is a special, free event, held on Good Friday every year since 2006 — Emily’s Run. It’s a 5-mile run, from Coconut Island, down the Bayfront to the lighthouse and back and it is decidedly not engineered for the 50-mile a week people, though all are welcome to enter.
For this one, though, you don’t sign up weeks in advance, you don’t have to train excessively and if all you want to do is walk — there’s a 2.5 mile course included — and maybe kick into a light jog here and there, this is the race for you.
It is named after Emily Wedeman, who moved here in 2000, while not in the best of health, to be closer to sons Joe and Bob Wedeman. Struggling with emphysema, Emily couldn’t run but she volunteered like an all-star, on hand at the Marathon and the Hilo-to-Volcano run and all the other big ones.
She passed away in 2005 from lung cancer and the next year, with the help of Wayne Joseph, the former social studies teacher and cross-country coach at Waiakea High School, the inaugural Emily’s Run was held in 2006, a loose, register-on-the-day-of-the-race event. In her name, it was created for the less serious runners, for walkers, for those starting out and those who move at a more gradual pace.
“She was everywhere,” said son Bob Wedeman, who has taken over the event after the passing of Joseph and a few years of organizing control by Big Island Road Runners. “Many people don’t know, but the tradition of soup at the end for Hilo-to-Volcano runners? She started that one year when she showed up with a big pot of split pea soup. It caught on.”
These days, there is veritable smorgasbord of hearty soups in big dining hall pots waiting for the finishers.
But on Good Friday, runners will arrive by 4 p.m. or so, get registered and the race starts at 5 p.m. If you just want a light walk, take the 2.5 mile course, and you’ll be back by sunset after seeing old friends and making new ones.
It’s a free event, but they ask for donations, every cent of which goes to the American Cancer Society.
The Big Island Invitational is a golf tournament on a mission to bring the game closer to young golfers in the area. They conduct free golf clinics and a free junior golf tournament.
But they have some issues. The events are staged by the team of Terilyn and Kevin Hayashi, Kevin being the pro who splits his time between Hilo Municipal and Makani Golf Club, two very different sites on the island.
Hilo, where the event was staged a year ago, has a big new parking lot, a larger restaurant and pro shop and associated meeting rooms for banquets and such, around a basic course that is considered the best golfing bargain on the island, but frankly lacks the pizzazz of Makani.
Makani can fill up those golf tourist brochures in a hurry. Sweeping views on a hillside over looking the ocean, a pretty island green, everything you would want in a course. But Hilo Muni has everything else.
Makani doesn’t have a permanent clubhouse, there’s no restaurant, at some point parking will need to be expanded, and there’s no place to gather and talk story, order a burger, or whatever.
“There’s pros and cons for each,” said Terilyn, the engine house behind the operation for her husband, the public face of the group. “I’ve contacted everyone we had out this year, all the players, to get suggestions and comments for the future and its been a really good response.
“Our main goal is the socialization aspect of it, to generate some funds for keiki and to just help it grow,” she said. “This year, we made a donation to First Tee of Hawaii. We aren’t going away, we’re just trying to be what the community wants.”
So, next year, will it be held at Hilo Muni or Makani?
Ben Pana, an educational assistant at Hilo High School, has been involved with Special Olympics for several years and has lately branched out into what they are calling unified basketball, an attempt to work on erasing the perceived walls that separate those with special needs from the rest of the society.
“The idea came from realizing we need more awareness in the general populace on our keiki with special needs,” Pana said. “It’s a pilot program that develops leadership and understanding through basketball. We had a couple (boys) off our team step up to be a part of it, to actually play with and help mentor these kids. Everybody gets something out of it.”
The program technically began a year ago with a one-day event but it has expanded this year with Hilo, Pahoa and Kealakehe all joining in to help fill Pana’s goal of having every high school on the island involved.
Rules are that three special needs kids, regardless of gender, be on the floor at all times with two ‘unifying’ teammates. They will convene April 13 on a second season, but the future is wide open. Playing in the spring has its drawbacks, so they might consider switching to a fall sport to encourage more participation from high school players before their winter season starts.
“Maybe the best thing about sports is that it can be a vehicle to bring people together, to help others,” Pana said. “We have young people off our basketball teams developing leadership skills, expanding their sense of compassion and working within the community, and the kids with special needs love the interaction.”
The best reason not to stand up and cheer and help out? There is no good reason, this is clearly a group doing good in the community for all the good reasons.
On Saturday, there will be an event in Pahoa with games scheduled for 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
To get involved, call Ben Pana at Hilo High School, 443.7946.
Contact Bart at email@example.com with information on sports people, teams or groups doing things in the community that more people need to know about.