Story and photos by Kristen Wong
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Runners paused at the top of Kolekole Pass to take in the view of the mountains, ocean, greenery and the city of Waianae, during the Kolekole 10K Run, Saturday.
“This is a great race,” said Capt. David Niblick, the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. “I’m loving the route, and then you come over here to this beautiful view. I’m really glad I did that this morning.”
Niblick was one of more than 200 racers who began the ascent from Leader’s Field, went up the road to the lookout, and headed back down to the field.
“The road is narrow and surrounded by vegetation,” said race coordinator Kristy Osborn, the sports specialist and fitness coordinator of Schofield Health and Fitness Center. “It is very peaceful, quiet and calm. The lookout point at the top offers breathtaking views of Waianae and the Pacific Ocean.
“The grade is challenging but never too steep,” she continued. “The switchbacks offer a change of scenery and keep you guessing as to where the top of the course will be.”
The run was open to the public. Although this is only the second Kolekole 10K, there have been other historical runs, such as the Kolekole Pass Half Marathon.
“This is epic,” said Col. Stephen E. Dawson, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. “The real prize today is not so much completing the 10K as much as getting to the point and seeing this incredible view, not seen by many for over a decade.”
Dawson said the goal this year is to give the public more access to the post.
“With all the security measures that are required, it’s been very difficult to get the public onto our bases,” he said. “We’re going to start opening up all of our fitness events to the public, and we do everything we can to share this with our neighbors that are outside the gate.”
“I’m glad it cleared out,” said runner and military spouse Monica Ferguson. “They said it was hazy this morning. It’s amazing. It’s much more beautiful than you expect it.”
Ferguson, who has only been in Hawaii for nine months, has participated in several half-marathons, but had not been running for two years due to a knee injury. After being treated at Tripler Army Medical Center, she decided to participate in the Kolekole 10K to gauge her running ability post-treatment.
During this race, she walked, jogged and ran. Ferguson described the last mile to the top as the most challenging.
“I appreciate MWR putting on runs like this,” Ferguson said. “It made it a lot easier for me to get out here and (do the run), letting us share their view out here.”
Some participants were grabbing water cups provided by race coordinators and continuing back down the hill. Other participants slowed down, took out their cameras, and enjoyed the view before heading back.
“It was nice and cool,” said Blaine Nakamura of Mililani.
Nakamura was with a friend who wasn’t feeling well, so the pair did a half-run, half-walk for the 10K. He said the main reason he participated was to see the view at the lookout. “It was perfect; I really enjoyed it.”
The Kolekole 10K is part of the Hawaii Armed Forces Joint Race Series. The series is split into two parts, consisting of three races each, throughout the year. The men and women with the fastest times in each age category will receive an award.
The next run in the series is the 20th Annual Ford Island Bridge Run 10K at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Open to the public, the run begins on Ford Island Bridge and ends at Richardson Field. Participants may still register online with a $40 late fee until March 24.
For more information or to register for the Ford Island Bridge Run, visit www.active.com/pearl-harbor-hi/running/distance-running-races/20th-annual-ford-island-bridge-run-10k-2017.
For more information and to register for other upcoming runs in the Joint Race Series, visit the Army Hawaii Physical Fitness Center on Schofield Barracks or visit www.himwr.com.