Waimea man showcases top Big Island endurance athletes in videocast

  • Waimea’s Joe Loschiavo is the founder and host of Big Island Hawaii Ultra — Running in Paradise, a videocast showcasing the island’s top endurance athletes. (Joe Loschiavo/Courtesy Photo)

If you haven’t heard about it already, there’s a new videocast in town — Big Island Hawaii Ultra. Much like popular podcasts, Big Island Hawaii Ultra showcases the island’s top endurance athletes covering just about every raw detail within the hour video of the bi-weekly series.

Founder and host of Big Island Hawaii Ultra (BIHU) is none other than Waimea’s Joe Loschiavo — a sports endurance junkie, long-time race volunteer and PATH race director, Tailwind Nutrition ambassador and owner of Howzit Computer.

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“Big Island Hawaii Ultra is a way to get to know these amazing athletes living among us who have done amazing things in their lives,” Loschiavo said

As all Big Island sporting events abruptly came to a halt in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many turned to social media as a viable outlet to keep the sports community connected during a time of uncertainty.

Finding himself home under the shelter-in-place mandate with extra free time due to the cancellation of several events he race-directs and school programs he volunteers for, Loschiavo jumped upon the opportunity to combine decades of IT experience, a charismatic personality and his passion for ultra endurance events to feature some of our island’s best athletes.

“I used to do an audible podcast in 2005 when podcast first started,” Loschiavo said. “It was pretty much me, just babbling away and talking about being in Hawaii, the races and triathlons, and I stopped it because I was busy working, busy volunteering, and busy with a lot on my plate, so it kind of faded away.

“But with everything that was happening with COVID in March, I began looking at all this YouTube stuff and I thought this was a good opportunity to utilize the technology that I’m good at. I knew Zoom was good to use and I know people were transitioning to using Zoom. I have all of the equipment because of my work, so I thought, let’s go ahead and do it.”

Loschiavo said he wanted to focus on Big Island athletes as he felt fascinated by their athleticism and humbleness toward their sport, and believed it was time to have their amazing stories told on a social media platform.

“As I look at the people around me who I am blessed to know, many are world class athletes,” Loschiavo said. “Like Kawika Spaulding from Keoua Canoe Club, what an amazing athlete. I’ve known Billy Barnett for 10-12 years since he’s moved to the island. Many might not know him by name but if you mention the book, Born to Run, that’s Billy on the cover.”

Loschiavo said he interviews athletes about their past, present and future. Usually no politics or any sensitive topics, though discussion of COVID-19 does present itself as one cannot ignore how it affects training and racing.

“My goal is to expose them to the bigger world because they are amazing athletes,” he said. “Some of them are better well known in the Ultra running world. But these are people we should know, especially when they live in our community.”

Loschiavo said he’s done his fair share of swim-bike-run events, admitting that he’s always been more of a runner than a biker. While Loschiavo hasn’t kept count of every event, he estimates that it’s around 50 triathlons and more than 200 marathons completed in his lifetime. Just last year alone he competed in the Rocky Raccoon 100K with the late Sylvia Ravaglia, who competed in the 100-miler, Luis Escobar’s Born To Run 100-mile race in California and the Brazos Bend 100-miler in Texas.

Loschiavo has also begun a special tradition of giving his finisher medals away.

“I send them to Memories of Honor,” he said. “After you get a medal from a race you give it to this organization who gives it to a family who has a soldier who died in action. It’s something I do after every event.”

A little about Joe

Born and raised in Chicago, Loschiavo said the high school he attended no longer exists. He then moved to Minnesota to attend Mankato State University, now called Minnesota State University, when he was introduced to the cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

After graduating, he moved to California to hike in the Yosemite National Park and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 1971 to Aspen, Colorado, where he resided for 25 years. While in Aspen, he helped to start the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, where he was the IT manager for 20 years. Loschiavo recalled it to be a very special place where he became “a long-haired hippie with hair down to my butt.”

Loschiavo found a natural affinity toward volunteering and connected with Earth Watch in Aspen – which connects people with scientists worldwide to conduct environmental research and learn what they can do to conserve the planet. Through Earth Watch he was given an opportunity to volunteer in Oahu and later, the Marine Mammal Lab with UH Manoa.

“I said Hawaii, beaches, dolphins, yeah, it was a no brainer,” laughed Loschiavo.

Eventually, he made his way over to the Big Island for work and later became the Aid Station Director for the Ironman World Championships, a position he held for 18 years.

With Big Island Hawaii Ultra videocasts in full swing, Loschiavo hopes to interview many more endurance athletes in the weeks, months and years to come.

“When I lived in Aspen for 25 years, I was fortunate to meet a lot of amazing athletes,” he said. “But none of their stories were told because back then, in the early 70s, there was no social media, there was really no platform.

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“Now because of YouTube and Instagram, people’s stories can be told. I just want to make sure that Hawaii is represented. Hawaii has some of the best athletes in the world and hosts many world class events like Ironman, HURT Hawaii 100 – our races our legendary and so are our athletes.”

To check out Loschiavo’s BIHU videocasts, visit his website hawaiiultra.com. or go to YouTube and search Big Island Hawaii Ultra.

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