The heavy rain prior to Sunday’s 17th edition of the Big Island International Marathon was a test from Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph up in heaven to race director Bob Wedeman and his brother Joe Wedemann.
Both were reminded of 1999. Back then, it was Wedemann’s first long run at 5 a.m. with Joseph, who passed away Jan. 22, 2013. It was raining like crazy in Paradise Park where both lived.
Wedemann deliberated, got there at 5:01 and Joseph was waiting in the dark, and asked his younger neighbor, “What would you do if it was the Honolulu Marathon and it was raining?”
They ran in the rain. But it later turned out to be a beautiful day. And Wedemann got the life-long message.
“That was his way of life. You make a commitment, you have to be dedicated and stand by your word,” Wedemann said.
When the two brothers with the different last names checked out Hilo Bayfront’s starting and finishing line setup on Saturday night, they were reminded of that rain lesson with the Big Dog.
“He was telling us to do it. That we can’t postpone the race,” Wedeman, the older, said. “We had no choice but to do it. I know that’s what he would have wanted.”
Jim-Man is Hilo’s version of Kailua-Kona’s Cowman. Both firmly don’t like their last names published in the paper. In Cowman’s case, that applies to his first name too.
Wearing a pink tutu for the hell of it and for fun, Jim-Man had a personal best in the half-marathon in one hour and 53 minutes, running the last three miles barefoot because of water-logged shoes.
Jim-Man, 53, did the Hilo-to-Volcano 31.1-mile ultra-marathon in January. He joked that he skipped the middle part, the marathon.
“I like the new course and it’s nice that some people were coming out of their houses and cheering us on,” he said. “We make a lot of noise in their neighborhood, so it’s nice to have them cheer. “
Like Wedemann, the Big Dog also influenced Jim-Man, who’s from Hilo, and got him started in running.
“I like the energy, going out and doing something healthy and it’s fun,” said Jim-Man, echoing Joseph’s health-conscious message. “This is Wayne’s race and we’ll always miss Wayne. He encouraged me and kept me going.
“Every day we run we’re running for him. He’s here every step of the way. He was a great asset to the community and he lives on.”
Chris Gregory, 27, and his girlfriend Shruti Greenwood, 22, are both students at UH-Hilo and ran their first Hilo half-marathon together.
He won the half-marathon in 1:17:49 and she finished in 2:00:35. Gregory ran the half last year, and has done a marathon once.
Gregory will graduate with a pharmacy diploma in two months. She’ll graduate with bio chemistry and math degrees.
When he started running after they met, he didn’t ask her to accompany him. Greenwood just joined Gregory and it’s a healthy attachment for the couple.
Gregory, though, blitzed Greenwood because he’s got a competitive heartbeat.
“I don’t need a gift certificate or a brownie. I want a medal or plaque to commemorate the event,” he said. “That definitely motivates me for sure.”
He ran in the Hilo marathon two years ago, overtrained and blazed out too fast. Gregory came in at 3:19, not a shabby time for his first marathon.
But his goal is a 2:45 or less than 3:05, the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. He’s thinking about competing in the Kona marathon, but that would take him out of the local Half-Marathon Triple Crown.
Finishers of the Hilo, Kona and Volcano half-marathons get a commemorative medal. Greenwood plans to run in the Kona half-marathon.
“I haven’t made up my mind,” Gregory said. “I’m doing a lot of triathlons, so I don’t have to train for the half-marathons. I’m already in shape for that.”
That’s the type of health-conscious statement that would have the Big Dog nodding in approval.