The Scene: Pahoa’s Young drives for 55

  • Teacher Justin Young tamed the Peacock Challenge ultrarun on Oahu last week.

When they get lined up for an ultrarun, like the Peacock Challenge 55-miler, you know to expect anything, given the conditions of the event held Oct. 19 on Oahu.

For starters, this isn’t a large field, only 57 started and just 37 made it from start to finish in an onerous trail run best described by the sponsoring organization:


“ (It) is an extremely difficult event designed for the most adventurous and well-prepared runner (this is not an entry level ultrarun event) conducted on trails located in the Kuaokala Forest Reserve Area above the Dillingham Airfield (Waialua, Hawai‘i), the race is noted for its extreme terrain with steep climbs/descents, and heat and humidity (occasional rain), all within a uniquely scenic course high above Northwest O’ahu.”

Yes, the sights must have been nice, but when every muscle in your body is screaming, the scenic part doesn’t have the same impact as it would on a 2-mile hike.

The course goes up and down, lots of hills that are challenging to run up and dangerous to run going down the hill, and yes, it was hot.

At the end, the biggest surprise of all might have been the winner, Pahoa school teacher Justin Young, 41, who finished almost 20 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor, Takeshi Yamada, a veteran ultrarunner from Oahu who was in a handful of those considered to be a possible winner.

Instead, Young grabbed the lead on the second half of the grueling run and just kept pulling away, winning with a time of 11 hours, 05 minutes, 4 seconds.

“Just an awesome feeling,” Young said this week, after a rough time last year in the same event when he was troubled by stomach issues and not at his best. “I was thinking about 12 hours, if I could get in under that time, I was going to be good with that.”

He wasn’t thinking about winning, he was thinking about getting through with a good time in the sub-12-hour range, a pace he beat by roughly 55 minutes.

“I felt good and I just kept going,” he said after finishing seventh last year in 12 hours, 19 minutes. “In the first half I think I was fifth, sixth, seventh-ish, somewhere in there, then I knew one guy in front dropped out; there’s a hilly section you run down and then run back up, and a few were walking so I tried to catch up a little there.”

At that point, he saw Bree Brown, the Kona runner who wound up finishing 30th, who told him he was third.

“That made me feel good,” Young said “and I saw some guys walking and I thought, ‘Oh man, they’re done, I need to pick it up,’ and I was able to do that a little.”

He knew the strength of Yamada and when he realized he was outpacing the veteran, he got an adrenalin rush.

“I saw that and thought, ‘Come on, you gotta go,’ thinking the more distance I could put between them and me would take its toll, eventually.”

Realizing he was first after seeing runner/photographer Mikey Brown who indicated Young was leading, it gave him more energy.

“I ran up a couple hills I didn’t think I would be able to run and the longer I went, the more I kept pushing.

“After that I realized I was past 30, then past 40 miles, and at that point, it becomes a whole different race, it gets pretty hard to pass someone running a decent pace.”

His pace was more than decent, it was unbeaten, and maybe an incentive for his next run.

That would be the HURT 100, yes, the 100-mile trail run on Oahu Jan. 18-19.

[subhead] Hilo Trollers [end subhead]

You couldn’t devise a better commercial for interested anglers to join the Hilo Trollers fishing club than the one president C.J. Lewis got this year when first year member Nick Rodrigues came away with Fisherman of the Year honors at the club’s recent banquet where winners were announced.

“It’s just a great thing to see the interest increasing,” said Lewis, “we had 30 boats registered this year, I think that’s a record, and we had an average of 20 vessels in every tournament, which is an increase as well.”

The Maluhia, skippered by Rodrigues, won Total Weight (Opala), and Largest Ahi (155.6 pounds), on his way to his title.

Other tournament winners included Total Weight Marlin (Nathan Mattos, Kealani, 267.1); Total Weight Ahi (Mattos, 236.4); Largest Marlin (James Hiraki, Carla H, 175.1); Largest Ono (Brian Catriz, Laurie Marie 7, 38.3): Total Weight Ono (Catriz, 219.7); Largest Mahimahi (Matt Castro, Calire II, 33.8); Total Weight Mahimahi (Castro, 47.3); Largest Aku (Ryan Sanoria, Hiilei, 25.7).

Lewis said the Hilo Trollers couldn’t have made it work without the help of volunteers and sponsors who donated time and effort, and he alerted interested participants that there will be an annual informational meeting for new and returning members Jan. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hilo boat ramp.

“Interest has increased and that’s good,” Lewis said, “our goal is all about bringing our community a little closer together, meeting other people with similar interests.”

[subhead] A Half and A Full [end subhead]

The fourth renewal of the 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon next week is expanding.

Volcano owner Keely McGee is adding a marathon to the event, something that’s been in the works for a while and reflects an indication of the success of the half-marathon.

“From the first days, we wanted to have a marathon, but at the same time, we didn’t want to take on too much,” McGee said this week. “The half-marathon has gone really well so we thought this would be a good time to include the full marathon.”

You can get all the details online at 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half-Marathon — expect a name change — but it will be interesting to see how the top finishers from previous years might change this time.

Volcano’s Billy Barnett won last year in a sprinter’s finish, edging out familiar rival Patrick Stover, but Barnett didn’t enter this year as he’s preparing for a 100-mile run in Arizona over New Year’s.

“Last year was wild,” McGee said of the finish. “We started getting messages from the aid stations about how close those two were and at the last one we heard, ‘We have no idea who will win this,’ so we were on the watch, and then we saw the two of them and we were all trying to figure out who was in front, they were so close.’”

Barnett ended up winning by about 20 seconds, a couple years after Stover did the same to Barnett in the same race.

This year, that event might be considered wide open since Stover is reportedly planning to run the marathon and Barnett won’t be involved. But you need to stay around for the end where there will be hula dancers and iced coffee.


McGee said she expects about 300 entrants on race day, with most of them in the half-marathon and perhaps 60 or more in the marathon.

[italics] Readers encouraged to send information on clubs and individuals to for including in the twice-monthly notebook [end italics]

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