Great 5 day trip to Hawaii!  I had a few goals, which included a marathon, a mountain, and some microbrews.

Got into Hilo late Wednesday night.

Thursday--Visited Hilo Hattie's, went to the Mehana Brewery for some samples.  Then met my friend Stan Fortuna, who is the headmaster of Kamahamaha Schools and got a tour of the school and some lunch.  Tried to go up Mauna Kea, but the weather was so bad when I stopped at 9000 feet ranger station that I decided to bag it and head over to Kailua Kona where I heard it wasn't raining.  Drove through some amazing lava fields.  Spent the evening wandering around Kailua and listening to a one-man band playing in a little shopping area.

Friday--Booked a morning snorkeling tour with Body Glove.  It was just like being on the Discovery Channel--the minute you get in the water you see tropical fish of all colors, sea urchins, coral, etc.  Couldn't get enough--took a whole roll of film (which, of course, didn't do it justice).  They even have perscription masks so I didn't have to be nearsited under water.  Got done around 1:30 and headed up to the Kona Brewing Co. for some samples before driving the 93 miles to Volcano National Park for the pasta dinner.  Met Stan and his wife Nancy for dinner (Stan did the marathon too, Nancy the 5 mile.)  Checked into a tropical cottage B&B in Volcano Village--quite possibly the nicest place I've ever inhabited, surrounded by lush jungle gardens.

Saturday--6:00 a.m. the marathon started, preceded by a woman doing a traditional Hawaiian chant.  We ran about a mile on pavement before going off road and across the lava fields for the next 12.5 miles or so.  I got to see quite a bit of blood along the way, (none was mine) lava tends to be quite unforgiving to anyone who doesn't keep his or her footing.  They recommended gloves and long-sleeve shirts, but I was fine without either.  Fortunately I got through the lava without falling down.

The course took a steep climb out of the lava and onto roads.  I think that because of the technical nature of the lava running, I didn't realize that we had gone down hill quite a bit, because the next few miles were a steady climb.  We turned onto Crater Rim Drive and got a few minutes of downhill & flat running, before going off-road again onto the Escape Road for another 4+ miles uphill.  Then onto Crater Rim Trail at somewhere around 23 miles for a real feast for the eyes as we ran around the rim of a huge crater.  I used up the remaining film in my camera.  I didn't see a 23 or 24 mile marker, but suddenly there was a two miles to go sign.  I started smelling the finish line and over the next two miles passed several of the people I'd been running back and forth with all day.  At the one mile to go sign, we started running along the steam vents, treating ourselves to a sauna in the last mile of the marathon.  I passed the three remaining people that I could still see on the course and felt great cruising into the Kilauea Military Camp for the finish line. 

Stan congratulated me as I finished, and within a minute I had been handed a printed index card with my race results.  Hash House Harriers were there partying near the finish, so I got a glass of Tsunami Lager and toasted a great marathon.  Finish time was 5:53 (my normal time is between 4 & 4:30).

No finisher medal, just a shirt (but a pretty nice one).  Got cleaned up and then went back to my little cabin in paradise for a short rest.  I was, however, in Hawaii, where there's too much to see to spend much of the day lying around. 

After stopping at the visitor center I went to the Volcanic Arts Center for a bit of shopping, then took a 45 minute drive to the ocean to see some hot lava flows.  The walk was about a half-mile on the road and a mile across the lava field before you could get close-up with the hot molten lava.  Got some great camera shots.  Before it got dark I got off the lava fields and headed back to Volcano for a small dinner and a couple Volcano Red Lagers. 

Sunday morning I decided to force myself to slow down for a bit, so I sat there in paradise reading and relaxing from 6-10.  I headed back toward Hilo, stopped at Walmart to get my film developed and shopped around the immediate area for an hour.  Then on to Mauna Kea.  In spite of the recommendations to drive only 4-wheel drive vehicles up the mountain, I found my rental car adequate.  You can drive all the way to the University of Hawaii observatory, which almost the highest point.  From there, you jump over the fence, down a well-worn path and back up a couple hundred feet to the highest point in Hawaii.  It's less than 10 minutes walk, but the uphill part at 13796 feet can have you stopping to catch your breath.

After admiring the view for a few minutes I headed back down the mountain in low gear, stopping for a couple momentoes at the ranger station at 9000 ft.  Then headed back to Hilo.

Just outside Hilo, I went searching for a couple Geocaches. (see for more info).  Found one, didn't find another, but got to see a cave and a waterfall in the process.  Spent the night at Stan & Nancy's place in Hilo.

Monday morning was playtime, even if it was raining again.  Drove north from Hilo and around a scenic drive and hiked down a path to the ocean.  Went to ??? falls and walked around the trail there.  I still had a couple hours before my flight, so I decided to try one more geocache, this one just outside Hilo near another waterfall.  The jungle trail taking me there was well over-grown, so I was quite wet before I got to the cache site.  I spent about a half-hour looking around and under rocks before finally finding it, but what a beautiful experience.  Back to town for a lunch at Cronies, and then to the airport for the long flight home.

IF ANYONE GETS A CHANCE--GO DO THIS MARATHON!!  It's well organized, beautiful, and you'll see sites you won't see anywhere else on the planet.  I'll be back there again.

and the adventure continues....
Don Kern
7 continents, 45 states marathons.
1 continent, 3 states high points.