Wearin’ O’ The Running Shoes, Swimsuits

Keiki are all smiles at last year’s TriFest Kids event. Photos courtesy Carol and Joe Williams

The Garden Isle TriFest is a fun and healthy way to spend the day when ‘everyone is Irish’

Don’t forget to wear green to the second annual Garden Isle TriFest this year or you might get pinched.

It’s set for March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, so not only can participants anticipate a healthy dose of athletics, but they also can expect food, music and other celebratory activities in honor of the Irish holiday.

There aren’t many St. Patrick’s Day events on Kaua’i, notes Carol Williams, who developed the Garden Isle TriFest last year with husband Joe.

The couple thought it might be fun for kama’aina and visitors to have something else to look forward to that day.

Aside from Irish festivities, registrants have the option of participating in a 5K run/walk, a run/swim aquathlon and stand-up paddleboarding.

“I’m interested in multisports, and for more of it to be here,” says Joe regarding why he chooses to hold the annual festival and fund it out of his own pocket.

Carol and Joe Williams. Coco Zickos photo

“I don’t know if the whole island has a burning desire for more of it or not, but I know the athletes do.”

Keiki ages 5 to 12 can participate in a children’s run/bike duathlon.

“It was so cute seeing those kids running their hearts out and riding their bikes as fast as they could,” says Carol about her most memorable experience from the 2011 fest.

Some 130 people participated last year and the Williamses hope for even more this year.

The Japan tsunami occurring right before last year’s event likely affected the turnout.

Still, visitors made up a large portion of the entrants more than 40 percent.

So far this year, more visitors have registered than residents. In fact, several individuals and families already planning a visit have been calling in anticipation of the event.

Not only does a festival like this boost the local economy, it gives visitors something out-of-the-ordinary to do while on the island.

Participants in last year’s TriFest

It also gives them an opportunity to donate money to local nonprofits. Proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity and the Rotary Club Po’ipu Beach senior scholarship fund. And in an effort to support these local charities, Joe and Carol are working diligently to decrease expenses this year so that even more money can be passed along.

Nonetheless, participants won’t be disappointed by the finisher medals awarded to all those who complete the race.

“It won’t be something they’ll be ashamed to take home,” says Joe.

And everyone will receive a T-shirt, while supplies last.

“We dedicated a lot of time to this. Coming from a sales background, it’s all about success, it’s all about winning,” says Joe, a retired information technology sales representative. “I want this to be a winner just like if I was doing a million-dollar deal.”

Joe has been a multisport participant and enthusiast for many years.

He even encouraged his friend and neighbor Joel Ehrlich who died recently and to whom the event is dedicated to take part in triathlons.

“It’s good for people to set goals,” says Joe.

The Garden Isle TriFest starts at 7 a.m. and will be held at Kalapaki Beach at Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club.

Visit gardenislandtrifest.com for more information and to register. Early registration is strongly recommended.

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