By RANI HENDERSON
Stephens Media Hawaii
The old adage “Third time’s the charm” certainly rang true for Laupahoehoe native Alan Ryan at Saturday’s 24th annual Hilo To Volcano 50K Ultra Marathon and Relay Race.
In his third attempt at the ultra distance of 31.1 miles, Ryan captured the men’s crown in what many considered a thrilling race for first place, adding his name to the coveted winner’s list and another well-earned medal to his collection. Yet, his win did not come easily.
“The first time I did it I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Ryan said. “The second one I did more mileage to train for it and went into the race tired. This one was by far the most painful. I actually ended up walking and almost didn’t make it.”
With the race starting in complete darkness at 6 a.m. for individuals and 6:30 a.m. for relay teams, the small field of racers were treated to starlit skies, followed by a picturesque sunrise, clear-blue skies, and cool temperatures — perfect racing conditions.
The arduous course began at sea level at Hilo’s Coconut Island, and spanned 31.1 miles to finish with a rise of 4,000 feet in elevation in Volcano Village.
Ryan found himself in the lead 15 miles into the race ahead of Keaau’s Joe Barcia, who was within sight, a mere 3 minutes back. It was also the point where the majority of the ascending began, and Ryan began to fatigue. The fight to finish became a battle with himself, and according to Ryan, it was downright ugly.
“I was bonking big time,” Ryan said. “My legs were cramping and I thought about dropping out. But, I was still in the lead and I had to try.”
With every checkpoint, Ryan’s lead diminished. It seemed inevitable — Barcia was closing in and Ryan found himself walking, his body begging to stop.
After receiving a can of Pepsi from his support crew, Ryan started to feel better and regained his stride toward the finish line. But with a quarter-mile left and the finish line in sight, Ryan took a last glance back at Barcia.
“Everything seized and cramped up from looking back at him,” Ryan said. “People always say to never look back, but I needed to know.”
Ryan shuffled across the finish line to claim his first victory at the event in 4 hours, 12 minutes, 38 seconds. Barcia followed close behind, sprinting through the finish only 29 seconds back in a stellar time of 4:13:07. Derrick Ledesma of Koloa, Kauai, finished third at 4:42:08.
In the women’s division, masters runner Victoria Daniel of Honolulu and Kailua-Kona’s Brooke Myers were having quite a race of their own.
Myers, who finished both the Kona and Honolulu marathons last year, decided that it was the ideal time to set the bar higher for herself and settled on competing in her first ultra-distance event.
“I wanted to challenge myself at something I’ve never done before,” Myers said. “I needed something more, something new and different. I wanted to see if my body could go further than 26.2 miles.”
Not setting any expectations upon herself, Myers found herself battling for the lead with the 52-year-old Daniel near the halfway point.
“We went back and forth for awhile,” Myers said. “But with 11 miles to go I started to feel sick and it started to become a battle. I began to walk.”
From there, Daniel took over the lead for good and went on to claim her first victory, finishing the 50K trek in 5:23:51.
Myers caught a second wind and credits her husband Nick and son Whistler for giving her the support needed to finish second in a great time of 5:44:42.
Hilo’s Amy Ray rounded out the podium in third place with 6:02:15.
In the relay division made up of three-person teams, High School Boys team Sunrise Athletics (Axl Aricayos, Ian McQuate, and Stephen Hunter) finished first in 3:17:39. Into Thin Air was the first open men’s team (William McMahon, Jonathan Peralto and Todd Marohnic) coming in at 3:27:04.
Off On A Run was the first open women’s team (Noe Waller, Carmen Garson-Shumway and Mehana Sabado-Halpern) with a solid time of 3:58:46. And the first open mixed team Turtle Tactics II (Heather Scarbrough, Tai Like Scarbrough, and Kerstin Busse) finished in 3:45:17.
For those keeping tabs on Guinness world record-holder Larry Macon, the 69-year old from San Antonio, kept his marathon streak alive by finishing in 9:23:58.
While the 50K is certainly enough punishment to one’s mind and body, another Big Islander took things to a whole new level.
Also on Saturday, 36-year-old Sylvia Ravaglia of Waimea conquered the HURT (Hawaii Ultra Running Team) 100-Mile Endurance Trail Run in Oahu. Described as one of the most grueling and gnarly single-track trails in Hawaii, the five-lap course navigated through the mountainous rainforest of Manoa, Makiki, and Nuuanu Valleys.
With cumulative gain of 25,000 feet, muddy and rocky terrain, boulders and numerous streams — all within a cutoff time of 36 hours — it’s little wonder only 53 people finished the rigorous 100-mile course out of the 125 that started.
“I severely underestimated the difficulty of that course,” Ravaglia said. “It hurt a lot and it truly lived up to its name.”
Ravaglia said that after being selected by lottery in June of last year, she began training for the event in July.
“I would run back-to -back runs on the weekends,” Ravaglia said. “Basically, it would be three hours late Saturday night followed by an early seven-hour morning run on Sunday.”
Ravaglia’s longest previous run was 38 miles and she used last month’s Honolulu Marathon as a long training run, so she felt she did her best to prepare herself for the most grueling event she’s ever entered.
Ravaglia said that although her feet hurt the most, it was worth the challenge and felt rewarded just to be able to do it.
“I truly enjoyed getting the chance to experience what a day really is and how it made me feel to go through it,” Ravaglia said. “Seeing the stars at night, then the sun rising, the different sounds around me, made me so much more aware of the world and how it changes through time.”
Ravaglia’s efforts placed her as the 10th female with a finishing time of 34 hours, 35 minutes.
Would Ravaglia do it again?
“Absolutely,” she said.
Hilo To Volcano 50K Ultra Marathon and Relay Race
31.1-mile run Saturday from Hilo to Volcano
1. Alan Ryan, 43, Laupahoehoe, 4:12:38
2. Joe Barcia, 43, Keaau, 4:13:07
3. Derrick Ledesma, 35, Koloa, Kauai, 4:42:08
4. Curtis Neck, 28, Hilo, 4:44:38
E. Colby La Brie, 34, Hilo, 7:33:22
1. Victoria Daniel 52, Honolulu, 5:23:51
2. Brooke Myers, 32, Kailua-Kona, 5:44:42
3. Amy Ray, 39, Hilo, 6:02:15
4. Royanne Shiigi, 35, Hilo 6:56:04
5. Lisa Nicholls, Denver, 7:01:21
E. Ashley Drake, 31, Hilo, 7:14:15
E. Marina White 27 Irvine, Calif., 8:17:39
1. Susan Cordell, 51, Hilo, 6:06:56
2. Kendel Prescott, 53, Decatur, Ga., 6:59:37 31
E. Anna Jacobsson, 40, Hilo, 7:09:52
E. Morgen Bahurinsky, 65, Hilo, 7:31:08
1. Mark Dangerfield, 63, Mesa, Ariz., 5:12:54
2. Victor Eisen, 50, Pahoa, 6:25:29
3. John Elliott, 63, Three Rivers, Calif. 6:28:48
4. J Ashford, 58, Waikoloa, 6:36:48
5. James Hank, 53, Mountain View, 6:46:41
6. Michael Meunch, 64, Volcano, 8:51:00
E. David Hammes, 62, Hilo, 6:31:20
E. Edgar Ombac, 46, Hilo, 6:56:04
E. Bill Greineisen, 60, Volcano, 7:18:59
E. Les Martisko, 69, 7:53:40
E. John Perea, 61, Kailua-Kona, 8:12:31
E. Henry Rueden, 64, De Pere, Wisc., 8:54:00
E. Laurence Macon, 69, San Antonio, 9:23:58
E. Jim Simpson, 72, Huntington Beach, Calif., 9:23:58
Note: “E” denotes runners who started before the official start time, and their self-reported times are unofficial.