The New Year is Coming!

The New Year is coming, creating a game plan of new race goals is good.  It doesn’t even have to be a race but goals in general are key to really LIVING your life.  What ever it is, running, biking, swimming, dancing, talking a cooking class, now is a good time to

align your goals and make them happen.

If it’s running that you love,then aligning a few races that can help you build in distance, before the Kona Marathon 2014, can be the perfect way to build speed and get results.  Start with a 5K, and then possibly a 10K, maybe throw in a Half Marathon.  The season is upon us, Turkey Trots, Jingle Jogs, they are all out there.  Once you set a goal, the universe conspires to make it happen.  “So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  This way, when you show up in Kona for race day, whatever distance you are running, walking or even just enjoying the fruits of your labor, you will be ready.

Enjoy the journey!  We Got This!!


Kona Ambassador, Julie Weiss the Marathon Goddess (center #2006) with fellow runners.

Keep It Fun

Can you believe it’s been over 3 months since the last Kona Marathon? Now here we are in October and for many of you it’s off season training. We have another 3 months until we begin to train for The Kona Marathon 2014. I just spoke with the brilliant Coach David Levine (Author of Complete Idiot’s Guide to Marathon Training) He suggests that in this off season it’s critical that you rest and take it easy, not that you do zero and do nothing, but use this time to rebuild. Go do some strength training get some easy low intensity runs, fun runs, run with some friends. With Christmas and New Years coming up it may be tough to get your runs in, so keep it easy. This is off season, base training and if you get enough of this stuff now then you won’t need as much later and you can really speed up, that sounds fun to me. But if you do too much you’re going to be over training and you will crash and burn and end up slower no matter how much you do. Let’s face it too much is too much and too little is too little. There is a fine line that you need to find and what is that fine line? It is when you’re still enjoying it. When you’re having fun. Coach Levine also suggest, that this is great time to focus on form. Set up a video or a cell phone and see what you look like. Have fun with it and enjoy the journey, because that’s what it’s all about. If you follow these wise suggestions then when you feel the islands calling you, you will be ready. Looking forward to seeing you at the beautiful Kona Marathon in 2014. Until we meet again. A hui you

Warmest Alohas,


Julie Kona Picture 1

Julie Kona Picture 2

Hawaiian Dreams

What if everyone single one of us chose to follow our dreams?  Then we put our passion to use for the greater good.  Well, I chose to follow a dream and it started on a beach in Hawaii.  It was 2007 that I felt it in my soul that a change needed to happen. Being overweight and on antidepressants, I decided to start running on the beach.  I shed the

Before and Afterweight and the medication.  Since then, I only look back to reflect on the transformation that has occurred and how far we’ve come. This past weekend, in Hawaii, I completed my 80th marathon since 2008.   I was back in the place where it all started, confronted with people from my past, embracing the gift of the present and seeing before me all of the dreams that are still possible. The magic of the islands is powerful and brought much clarity to all of the opportunities that lay before us.  Your past does not define your future!


DianaWhat is your dream?  What moves you?   I didn’t find my groove until 2007 at age 37, when I realized it was running.  How about Diana Nyad who just finished her record-breaking swim from Cuba to Florida?   At 64 years old and many failed attempts, she proved that you are never too old to chase your dreams, never ever give up.  We all have a passion for something inside of us.  Whether it’s running, swimming, dancing, cooking, whatever it is you love to do, that is what makes you, you! Embrace your passion.

If your passion is running, walking or it’s Hawaii that you love then have I got a place for you.  In 2012, I ran the Kona Marathon, number 11 in my journey of 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer research, in memory of my father. The Kona marathon really embraces that Aloha Spirit.  There is something for everyone, a kids run, a 5k, 10k, half marathon and a full marathon.  You don’t have to run, you can walk, you can come to support, or just come to get inspired and enjoy the land.  It’s not about the time on the clock, it’s about the journey and the time in your heart.

I am very grateful to be one of the Kona Marathon Ambassadors.  It is an honor to represent a marathon truly embraces that Aloha Spirit.  I hope you will join me in 2014, come out and let your Aloha Spirit SHINE and I will see you at the finish line.  We got this.

xoxo Julie







Kona Marathon past Rock Stars


Every year, the Kona Marathon brings a wealth of fresh faces to the starting line, but its aloha spirit, welcoming staff and gorgeous locale also bring back past runners and winners. And with the 20th Anniversary just around the corner, we reached out to some past winners to celebrate this year.

Karl Honma

Karl’s first two marathon wins were at Kona, one of which was the Kona Marathon’s inaugural race in 1994. “Four young men that I coached supported me along the course and it was special to have the runner/coach roles reversed.”

Karl even celebrates birthdays at the Kona Marathon, where he rang in his fortieth birthday the last time he ran the race. On his 2013 return he comments, “This time, it will be my first race as a 50-year-old … it’s a birthday present to myself!”

Karl’s return to the Kona Marathon is testament to his passion for running and he’s proud of his continued involvement in the sport. “When I encounter former athletes and students, they always ask if I still run. My wife and 3-year-old daughter cheer for me at races and that’s so wonderful. I owe them. Others may run faster than me, but they won’t run harder.”

Connie Comiso-Fanelli

When thinking on her Kona Marathon win, Connie remembers the challenges, but also the good times.

The event is full of good friends and better memories, and returning for the 20th Anniversary is an exciting prospect for Connie. “The course has changed over 20 years, the some of the staff has come and gone, but it still has that ‘family feeling’ to it, and Sharron is keeping that tradition going strong.”

Running since 1978, Connie turned to the sport to improve her health. Now, after 35 years of running, it’s still a major part of her life. “I’m just grateful that I can still run after 35 years of competing, though not nearly as fast, still feeling the exhilaration and thrill of the sport. And I’m looking forward to seeing my friends in Kona again and sharing a cold Kona Brewing beer at the finish line!”

Justin Gillette

Running runs in Justin’s family. His brother is also a runner and Justin’s wife, Melissa, won the Kona Marathon alongside her husband in 2010. Justin has been running marathons since 1999 and currently ranks fifth in the world with 63 career wins. “This all started because I enjoyed my first run and wanted to do a second run. The second run became a third, which eventually led to a race, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Justin won his first Kona Marathon in 2008 and has since won the marathon every year. “When I first did the Kona Marathon in 2008 it represented my fourteenth marathon win. The race was still growing and evolving as an event, and likewise, I was still growing into a runner.”

Justin is excited to return for Kona’s 20th Anniversary. “The twentieth edition will be a neat experience where the past history of the race is honored along with the future optimism that is buzzing for the event.”

Jeannie Wokasch-Parente

Jeannie, an eight-time Kona Marathon winner, is a huge fan of the Marathon. She has participated in nearly every Kona Marathon since its inception in 1994 and loves coming back. Every year she chooses a charity to run for, helping that group spread awareness and raise money. The 2013 event will be dedicated to Talk About Curing Autism. When we talked with Jeannie she said “I love the Kona Marathon; they are like a family to me. I’d cry if I wasn’t able to run it every year!”

These are just a few of the talented, passionate runners associated with the Kona Marathon. Their positive attitudes, inspiring stories and dedication to the sport are just a few of the touchstones that make the Kona Marathon what it is today.

Kona Marathon supports troops in Qatar

The Kona Marathon and Family Runs is honored to announce that for the third year we have sponsored a Kona Marathon Military Shadow Run. Support of our Service Members putting themselves in harm’s way to protect and ensure our freedom is very important to our management team.

Being deployed in foreign countries and combat zones does not normally present our troops the opportunity to run in organized races. The Kona Marathon feels it is very important to promote these Shadow Runs in order to help build and maintain moral.

This year the Kona Marathon Shadow Run was held in Qatar. There were 39 participants from four U.S. Military Units:

  • Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE)
  • Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT)
  • United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A)
  • Central Command (CENTCOM)

The Kona Marathon Military Shadow Run was held in May in order to avoid the intense Middle East desert heat in June. Our men and women in uniform participated in all four Kona Marathon events; Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k and 5k and were awarded finisher medals and t-shirts for their respective races. In return, we were sent an U.S. Flag that was flown over the skies of Afghanistan in a combat refueling mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This flag will be proudly flown over our race finish line on June 23.

For details on the 20th Anniversary Kona Marathon and Family Runs being held on June 22-23 and the entire week of events, visit

Marathon Goddess, Julie Weiss


Marathon Goddess, Julie Weiss

Fifty-two marathons in fifty-two weeks? Seems nearly impossible. But not for one Los Angeles resident.

Julie Weiss’s road to “52 in 52” started in 2008. With encouragement from her father, Maurice, she decided to train for the Boston Marathon, one of the oldest and best-known racing events. Maurice was her biggest supporter, determined to see his daughter qualified for the race. “We were going to go to Boston together and he was going to cheer me on,” Julie recalls. “I called him after every marathon.”

Over the next two years, Julie ran nineteen marathons in preparation for the Boston Marathon qualification. But In October 2010, Maurice was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Undeterred by his illness, Maurice insisted Julie pursue her dream. “I told my dad, ‘You’re going to go to with me and I’m going to qualify!’”

Unfortunately, Maurice passed away one week before the qualifying race, only 35 days afterbeing diagnosed. “I had no idea about pancreatic cancer, or how severe it was. But on race day, I knew he was there with me. He had the best seat in the house…my heart.”

After completing the Boston Marathon, Julie knew there was something more to be done. Researching pancreatic cancer, she discovered it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but also the least funded for research.

Through her research, Julie found the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. The number one charity for pancreatic cancer, Julie met with the organization and was thrilled by their excitement and support. It was here the idea for “52 For You” was born. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was able to support and fund travel expenses, in part through their Team Hope Marathon Program.


Julie took the name “Marathon Goddess,” but she’s quick to point out its true meaning. “It’s not about me!” she assures. “It’s a name that allows me to encourage others to find their inner god and goddess. People will see me running and say, ‘Hey, it’s the Marathon Goddess!’ and I say, ‘No, you are a marathon goddess!’”

With the help of her fiancé, David, Julie’s first marathon of 52 started in Rome, Italy on March 18, 2012. It was here that the documentary Spirit of the Marathon II was filmed, featuring Julie and her story. The film will be released in June of this year.

After Rome, it was one down, 51 to go. And it hasn’t been easy, especially considering Julie continues to work as a fulltime real estate accountant in L.A. “It’s a rigorous schedule: I leave my office on a Friday or Saturday morning; travel to a different city or state or even country; run a marathon on Sunday; get home Sunday night; be in the office by 9 a.m. Then the rest of the week is all about recovery. I get to sit at my job, which is nice, but it’s about eating good food, stretching, surrounding myself with positive people to get my spirits up.”

Image“But I do get tired!” she’s quick to point out. “I suffer some aches and pains, but I have a fantastic sports physician. I go to the spa a couple times a week to recuperate. I also mediate; it keeps me balanced.”

It’s also the people she encounters that keep Julie’s spirits up and gives her journey perspective. Dedicating each marathon to someone affected by pancreatic cancer, Julie makes sure to never lose sight of the everyday fighters. “When I’m running my marathons, my battle is nothing compared to these people who are fighting for their lives.”

Many of these fighters have left a lasting impression. Julie met Paul Perkovic during a race in her home state of California. He was suffering from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. “He was very high-energy, a fun guy,” Julie remembers. “He was so excited about my journey. He ran the last 0.2 miles with me; we crossed the finish line together. It was a moment I’ll remember forever. He passed away three months after that marathon. But for that moment, we had created some hope and light in this dark world of pancreatic cancer.”


Julie celebrating with Kona Marathon’s Assistant Director, David Ranck after her 52nd Marathon in LA on March 17, 2013

Julie’s eleventh marathon was in Kona, Hawaii. She affectionately refers to this race as “Eleven, like running in heaven!”

“The course is kind of epic,” Julie says. “It makes you feel like a rock star!” Even more than the course, it’s the Aloha Spirit that keeps her coming back to Kona. “It’s in the people who run the marathon, who live there, the support crew. It’s so welcoming. Not to mention the venue, which is breathtaking. Definitely the location, but more so, the people.”

Not only has Julie been running the marathons, she’s also handled most of her own PR and organized fundraising in her spare time. Accepting donations from $5 to $50,000, she’s raised over $175,000 during her journey, relying heavily on the power of social media to connect with individuals and organizations.

Julie’s final marathon was on March 17, 2013, in L.A. How does she plan to celebrate? “Sleep!” she exclaims. “Treating myself to sleeping in!”

Despite the end of this chapter, Julie’s story is far from over. Her new goal: 52 more marathons by 2020. “I am still running alongside Pancreatic Cancer Action Network with our hope to double the survival rate of pancreatic cancer by 2020.”

An inspiring figure, Julie continues to share her positive attitude and sincere spirit. And she encourages others to find a cause of their own. “Follow your dreams; follow what’s in your heart. If it resonates in your soul, then go for it. Life is short. This is our chance to help other people. It may be hard, but don’t give up. It’s a journey. People focus on the final finish line, but the beauty is found along the way, in the journey.”

Follow Julie’s continued adventures and make a donation to the cause on her website: by: Dustin Diehl

Copyright Kona Marathon, All rights reserved

3 Ways to Run Through the Heat

Dealing with high temperatures and humidity on race day is a critical success factor: If you can’t or don’t know how to do it, your day could end prematurely and most likely your finishing time will fall outside of your goal.

That said the heat affects many runners long before they reach the starting line. Simply based on where they live and the time of year, these folks spend the majority of their training schedule attempting to avoid the performance-killing effects of high temps.

ImageHot vs. Hard

Increased heat means a distorted sense of perceived exertion (your easy pace feels really hard) and an increased heart rate (your body is working double time to keep cool and keep moving). But while your overall performance deteriorates when temps are above an “optimal” range, your muscles aren’t working any harder just because it’s hot. In fact, the opposite is true: the slower you run, the less stress you are placing on your running-specific muscles.

Less stress means less work, and ultimately less adaptation. To put it another way, it’s like being able to bench press 100 lbs, but on really hot days you only put 85 lbs on the bar because it feels harder. The Marathon Nation focus is on quality, not quantity, and so we need to solve for this heat if the training is to work. So how do you continue to keep the pressure on your body to see progress, yet avoid overtraining?


Here are three ideas you can use to adjust your workouts to compensate for the heat. Whatever you do, don’t train yourself so hard you earn a free hospital journey — it’s just not worth it!

1. Run in the early morning. The temps are not as hot and the air quality is pretty good. This is your best bet if your schedule allows for it. Editors note: the Kona Marathon starts at 5:30am for this reason

2. Run slightly further because you’ll be going at a slower pace for a given effort / heart rate. If you wanted to run 7 miles at 9:00 pace, but you can only muster 9:30s or 9:45s, then extend your run to 8 or 8.5 miles. Just make sure you have means to stay hydrated and stay protected in the sun!

3. Adjust the intervals of your harder runs in order to continue running at your normal paces. You can do this by:

  • Running shorter work intervals. Do 6 x 2.5 minutes instead of 3 x 5 minutes;
  • Taking longer recoveries between work intervals so as to be ready for the next work piece; or
  • Splitting tempo runs into intervals. Make that 6 mile tempo run into 3 x 2 miles or 2 x 3 miles with breaks in the middle to hydrate properly and get cool.

Regardless of which option you chose for your particular workout (or entire training cycle), adapting how you train based on the conditions in which you have to train is critical. You can only ignore the realities of heat and its affect on your body and ability to run for so long; learn to bend like a reed!

Christina Kyle: A Team Challenge team member

By: Dustin Diehl

Christina Kyle was 19 years old when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.“It was 11 years ago,” she says. “I thought, ‘OK, it will go away, I can take pills.” Unfortunately, it was a severe case of the gastrointestinal disease, one that necessitated major surgeries in 2009 and 2010. “It was four years ago that I was first hospitalized,” she remembers. “It was then that I realized I needed to do something about it.

On a mission to become an active member in the fight for a cure, Christina found Team Challenge, an endurance training and fundraising program dedicated to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. “The best part of Team Challenge is the camaraderie and the friends I’ve met. The whole system is like a little family.” And it’s about more than just the physical training. “We always check in on each other; there’s a lot of empathy. We’re all in it for the same reason – to find a cure, whether you suffer from the disease yourself, or it’s a friend or family member.”


Her journey with Team Challenge led her to the Big Island of Hawaii and Kona, for the 2011 Kona Marathon. “It was gorgeous!” she recalls. “It’s a cute, quiet little island; very mellow. And running along the course is like nothing you’ve ever experienced.” Kona’s aloha spirit would entice Christina to return a year later.

However, Christina’s condition required another surgery, her fourth major operation, preventing her from participating in the 2012 marathon. But that didn’t stop her from revisiting Kona. For her, it wasn’t solely about the running experience. It was about supporting her team and raising money for the cause. “I was too sick to run, but I was there for my team.”

With 2013 marking the 20th anniversary of the Kona Marathon, Christina is not only returning to the “cute, quiet little island,” she’s also packing up her life in Los Angeles, California and moving to Oahu. “I fell in love with the people, the culture, the lifestyle,” she says of her decision. “Having Crohn’s in LA is a lot of stress, which is a trigger. I like the healthiness of the island. I’ve traveled all over the world and never found a place I could live until I went to Oahu.”

Luckily, her account management job had an opening, allowing her to make the transition. “It’s a great company and they make amazing matching donations for my goals.” In addition to her company, Christina feels blessed to have the support of great family, friends, doctors and coworkers, 13 of whom are making the trek to Kona this year to show their support.

In the midst of training, recovering and packing, Christina still has time to compile her Kona 2013 wish list. “Lying on the beach or by the pool with a Mai Tai,” she laughs. “And I have to dive with the manta rays – really looking forward to that!” The new headquarter hotel for the Kona Marathon, the renewed Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, offers just these experiences. But the most important goal on her list: “Even if I have to crawl across the finish line, I will finish!”

2011-06-26_05-55-44_648It’s this determination and commitment to positivity that makes Christina such an inspiring advocate for Team Challenge. When asked what advice she would give to those considering Team Challenge and the 13.1-mile half marathon, Christina says, “Do it. People think they can’t run 13 miles – it doesn’t matter. Team Challenge will make sure you cross the finish line, whether you’re walking or running. Don’t be scared. It’ll be the best decision you will ever make.”

Her hope is that others will find the strength to join, take action and make a difference. “I believe we will find a cure in my lifetime…and I want to be a part of it.”

To join the Greater Los Angeles/Orange County Team Challenge chapter, contact Jessica Dean at or 310-694-3343, or visit for more information about your local chapter.Image

Active Valentines Ideas

ImageValentine’s Day is two days away and is usually a card-and-candy holiday—throw in a candlelit dinner out on the town and you’re bound to overindulge in calories. While a romantic night is a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, there are other ways to be romantic with your significant other. And, if you’re solo, don’t pout on the couch alone with a spoon and a container of ice cream. Grab a buddy and check out new activities together. Here are eight activities you can do with a your special someone or a partner.

1.) Sign up for a Valentine’s Day (or weekend) run.

Whether you’re a seasoned runner looking to PR or a recreational runner looking for some fun; attached or unattached, get your heart pumping and celebrate Valentine’s Day at a race. Usually themed runs are fun, laid back and offer tins of entertainment and food. Why not make the Valentine’s Day and weekend healthy and fun.

2.) Take a joint Fitness or Yoga class

Break a sweat as you boost cardio and lift weights or stretch out those muscles. You and your partner can motivate each other. If you are single, sign up for a singles fitness class. Meet your new mate doing something you both like to do.

3.) Go rock climbing!

Indoors or outdoors, rock climbing builds trust and confidence between you and your partner. Plus, rock climbing is a great way to build muscle. Challenge yourself; try something new and adventurous.

4) Enjoy a couple’s massage.

After a day of activities, why not relax and pamper yourself with a nice massage? Not only is a massage a nice treat, but it’s also therapeutic and allows your body to release toxins and function better. Studies show that during a massage, large amounts of endorphins are released into the bloodstream. Pain and stress is reduced, while pleasant memories, sexual activity, and happy emotions are increased.

5) Make Valentines Day stretch into the weekend and take a camping trip.

Get out of town and head for the woods. There’s nothing more romantic than sleeping under the stars with your partner. Or, grab your friends for a fun and adventurous trip. Explore all the hiking trails during the day, and at night cook, some delicious campfire foods while stargazing.

6) Take a cooking class together

Spice up your kitchen skills and impress others with new recipes that you learn from a cooking class. It’s a great way to interact with your partner, or meet new people who are interested in cooking. You can learn new cooking techniques, tasty recipes, how to pair wines, and more.

7) Dance!

Whether you want to improve your wiggle dance or learn how to tango, dancing will get your heart rate up. Not only can you improve your coordination skills, but there’s also something sensational about dancing with your partner. You don’t have to be a pro to learn how to dance, be open-minded, have fun and watch your significant other move. Or, grab your friends for a fun evening of music and dancing.

8) Lace up your skates!

Hold hands as you skate around a roller rink or ice rink and pretend you’re a kid again. Spin and jump as you show off your amazing skating skills. Even if you’re not an Olympic skater, trying a few tricks is always fun. You might end up with a few bumps or bruises, but just think about how much laughter will occur because you just let go and have fun.

Go ahead, be adventurous and try something new this Valentine’s Day. Just think: if you do an activity or two throughout the day, you won’t feel too guilty when you have a piece of chocolate later. Regardless of your relationship status, enjoy the day with someone you care about and create fun memories with your loved ones.