Haena-Hanalei Run Stirs Memories

Runners at last year’s Haena to Hanalei run get off to a fast start. Photo from Julie Wallace / Hanalei Canoe Club

The North Shore of Kaua’i, specifically Haena to Hanalei, holds a special place in my heart and memory. It was the setting for my first Kaua’i visit, which is approaching a 10-year milestone. Back in the summer of 2002, I flew out from New Jersey with two of my friends and we camped for a couple weeks just off the sand, not far from Haena Beach Park. I was 19 at the time and it would be the first of many excursions out here before I became a full-timer.

During that initial stay, we didn’t ever venture much farther than Hanalei Bridge. We usually woke up with a dip in the cold pond, hopped in our borrowed van and headed for some early grinds at the snack shop in Ching Young Village, also hoping to catch a peek at some World Cup soccer action on TV. Then it was either spending the day at the bay, heading back to the end of the road to trek Hanakapiai for a few hours or hitting Tunnels for some snorkeling before crashing in the tent as soon as the sun went down.

That Haena to Hanalei journey has become an even more familiar one in subsequent years and always brings my mind back to that first visit, when I felt like I’d be the luckiest person in the world if I ever got to see the Garden Isle again. So it’s only fitting that I remind you of the 32nd annual Haena to Hanalei Run/Walk, which is on tap for Saturday, June 2.

I’ll be participating this year for the first time, though I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be going the full eight-mile course, or the more abbreviated 5K (3.1 miles), which also is offered. For keiki, there is a One-Mile Youth Run.

Sponsored every year by Hanalei Canoe Club, the Run/Walk proceeds go to all of its paddling programs, especially its youth program.

Last year’s race T-shirt logo

According to assistant secretary Julie Wallace, there are likely to be more than 600 runners and walkers who will be hitting the pavement, many of them from Kaua’i and the other Hawaiian islands, as well as from the Mainland and as far away as Germany and Australia.

Runners who will traverse the full eight-mile course will be shuttled out to Ke’e Beach beginning at 4:45 a.m. Walkers will begin their journeys at 6, with runners following suit at 7. The finish line is at Hanalei Pier. The 5K and Youth Run each begin and end at the pier.

A pancake breakfast will be available at the Hanalei Canoe Club Hale starting at 7:30 a.m., followed by an awards ceremony.

This year there are a couple of sign-up options. Online payment can be completed by going to hanaleicanoeclub.org and paying with PayPal. Registration forms also are available all over the island, including Da Booze Shop in Waimea, Kalaheo Coffee and Cafe, Kaua’i ATV in Koloa, The Foot Locker and Kaua’i Athletic Club in Lihu’e, Kaua’i Cycle and Work It Out in Kapa’a, Healthy Hut and Kaua’i Mini Golf in Kilauea, Federico’s in Princeville and Hanalei Surf Company.

Cost for participation is $35 in advance, $45 on race day. The Youth Run costs $10.

I have about six weeks to determine which distance is right for me. I haven’t done any true distance running in a while, so it’s going to be tough to accurately gauge my abilities. If I sign up for the full eight miles, maybe I’ll see if the organizers can leave some pancakes a bit down the road at my original 2002 campsite – just in case.