"It was Amazing!" Those were the first words out of Gunn coach Ernie Lee's mouth when I asked
him how the meet went. He then gave the following rundown of the team's 4 days out in
They left Thursday morning and arrive at their hotel in downtown Wakiki (a block from the
beach) in time to get an afternoon run in down the boulevard. Just imagine... 7 guys,
7 gals, and a coach all running down the mainstrip... all looking like they're having a
fantastic time. Forget about the fact that it's 90 degrees out with matching humidity -
they're in HAWAII!
On Friday morning their run took them to the top of Diamond head and then some serious
pre-meet sun bathing. A trek out to Waiameya (sp?) took up the afternoon and then a
pasta feed with about 10 other teams completed the day.
Saturdays race was on the NE side of the Island. When you looked out to the ocean view
you could see Mulokai - take a look the other direction and you saw a lush rain forest.
The most fantastic view you could ever see - but if you're at an XC race, who's looking...
This meet was a full day affair with College and Middle School races along with the HS
division. Race times were at 2:00 and 2:30 - and the 90 degree heat and humidty were
there this day as well.
The girls race saw Graham cruise the first mile and then take the lead shortly there after.
She won handily. Her winning time was 19:48 for this hilly 5k (long?) course. The Gunn girls
finished 8th as a team. Had newly transfer Tori Tyler been along, they might have finished
as high as 3rd. Montgomery won the team title.
The boys race had a bed going to the victor... let me explain. Two Gunn runners had a bet,
whoever beat the other would get the bed, the loser the floor. In true fashion, it became
a sit and kick race for these two. Gunn Boys finished 6th out of 19 teams.
The next day they went to Hanama Bay where Graham was heard to exclaim, "I saw a sea
turtle!" And then off to the airport to catch the redeye for back home. When asked if
he'd do it again Ernie said, "the kids would, but I'm for making it a now-and-then event."
He said they were a great group to travel with for they all got along great... not
something that everyone can say when you're trying to squeeze 7 days of activity into 4
days of actual time but the Gunn XC team seemed to make it happen.
And now a note from Coach Lee to Doug Speck, et al...
Traveling to Hawaii to participate in the Iolani Invitational was a
fantastic experience. I would like to thank Greg Char and the folks at
Iolani for not only putting on the meet, but for being extremely helpful and
more importantly constantly available for any questions or problems. We had
absolutely no problems during the entire trip (well, except for the garbage
truck blocking our van from getting out of the parking lot two days in a
row, but that just became a team joke).
Here's a summary of our experience: we arrived in Hawaii on
Thursday afternoon and made it to our hotel by around 3PM. We planned to
run at 5:30, so the kids had some time to check out the beach and Waikiki.
They approved. For our run, we ran through Waikiki towards Kapiolani Park.
Although it was hot and humid, the views of the surf and the fact that we
were in Hawaii made the run seem easy. The park is very large with a path
along its border filled with joggers. Most of the kids did 1 loop (for
about a 4 mile total run from the hotel) while a few opted for a second
loop. That evening, we ate dinner outside at Duke's with the beach about 10
feet from our tables. Not bad.
Friday morning, we went to Diamond Head for an "easy" run. Getting
to the top involved many stairs and a few very dark tunnels, so there wasn't
much running involved, but the view at the top was spectacular. Waikiki and
downtown Honolulu on one side, and beautiful beach and ocean on the other.
We lingered at the top for about half an hour before heading back down. We
did strides on the grass field by the parking lot, and for some reason
everyone had large smiles on their faces while they were running.
Friday afternoon we headed to the north shore to check out the surf
town of Haileiwa and the famous North shore surf beaches. The only
disappointment of the trip was that the waves were pretty tame, but the
beach at Waiemea was amazing. I hadn't originally planned on going to the
beach the day before the meet (that's supposed to be detrimental to running,
right?), but it was just too good to pass up. We ended up spending the
entire afternoon swimming, snorkeling, and general frolicking on the beach.
We had a late lunch in Haileiwa and of course got some shaved ice.
Due to the length of time we spent on the north shore, we were late
to the pasta feed at Iolani High School. To the disappointment of my team,
we were too late for me to participate in the coaches hula dance. Back in
Waikiki, there was some Aloha festival going on. Even though it probably
would have been best for us to just go back to the hotel and sleep, we
cruised around the festival listening to dozens of Hawaiian bands. We were
in Hawaii, after all.
Since our races weren't until the afternoon, Saturday morning gave
the kids an opportunity to do some homework (no joke, I was amazed at the
amount of textbooks they brought. One kid's bag was nicknamed the "neutron
star" because of how heavy it was). The drive to the course was, of course,
phenomenal. The Kualoa Ranch itself is right across the road from the beach
and at the base of some towering, lush mountains. However beautiful the
pictures of the location looks, believe me, in real life it was better.
As we walked the course, it's difficulty impressed us. The first
hill was quite significant. Also given the heat and the humidity, my only
instructions to the team was, "Don't go out too fast." They were all too
happy to comply. The races themselves are probably best described
elsewhere. Since it is so early in the season, we basically approached this
meet as a good effort. I told the kids that I didn't care about times or
places, just that they run hard and have fun. After the race, the kids
spent some time gathering coconuts and pretending to be Tom Hanks in
Saturday night was their last night in Waikiki. We got some Aloha
Pies and ate them on the beach while some kids got in some night swimming.
We got back to the hotel reasonably early since we were planning on getting
up early to go snorkeling.
Sunday morning we were out of the hotel by 7 AM to go to Hanuama
Bay, site of some of the world's best snorkeling. Even though the place
gets crowded, it was well worth it. Junior Andrew Lipkin took four rolls of
underwater pictures, one within about the first 15 minutes of getting there.
We were there until 2 PM snorkeling, swimming, tanning (or, more precisely,
sunburning), taking pictures, wrestling in the water, and having a great
time. After lunch, we headed back to Waikiki for the last hurrah. Some of
the kids went back to the beach to boogie board, some went shopping for
gifts and souveniers, and some of them actually stayed in the hotel to do
some homework. We had a final team dinner at Auntie Pasta's and got to the
airport at 8PM for our red-eye flight back to San Francisco. Not
surprisingly, the kids were asleep within minutes of boarding the plane.
As a coach, everything went shockingly smoothly. It was great to
have the folks from Iolani available. More importantly, the Gunn kids were
great. They really get along well together and look out for each other.
Given the amount of hard work, dedication, and commitment to the team that
they have displayed, I was more than happy to reward them with this trip.
It is a large and stressful undertaking, however. We're still sorting out
the finances (for us, the kids paid half and then all their expenses in
Hawaii, and we fundraised the rest). One unfortunate thing was that since
everything had to be arranged so early (we had to have rosters finalized
before we even started school), we were unable to bring along any freshmen
or new students.
I would love to go back (and not surprisingly, so would the kids).
I have no reservations recommending the trip to any other team. For me, all
of the stress and the time were well worth it, but I also realize that we
were very fortunate to have everything go so smoothly. If anyone has any
specific questions, I would gladly answer them.
Henry M. Gunn Cross Country.