Runnin’ with Rani: Simply the Best of Swim-Bike-Run in 2016

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As we approach the final days of the 2016, now is a perfect time to reflect upon a year filled with many great sports stories, memories and outstanding performances.

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As we approach the final days of the 2016, now is a perfect time to reflect upon a year filled with many great sports stories, memories and outstanding performances.

From watching the epic performances at Rio’s Summer Olympics, to the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series and ending a 108-year drought, to the retirements of NFL and NBA icons Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant, 2016 has been full of highlights.

Here on the Big Island, athletes also had an amazing year filled with memorable Swim-Bike-Run – triumphs and accomplishments, much of which included our youth blossoming into the future stars of tomorrow.

And so I would like to share my thoughts on what were some of the most impressive performances and sport stories from an outstanding 2016. In no particular order:

Billy Barnett’s complete dominance

Whether it was setting a new course record at the 26th annual Hilo to Volcano 50K Ultra Marathon; claiming his fifth consecutive victory on the single-track 10K trails of Puuwaawaa’s ancient volcanic cinder cone; to topping the field at the recent Jingle Bell Beach Run — the Volcano resident, ultra marathoner, and teacher at Waiakea Intermediate School sure kept himself busy, ringing in win after win throughout the year. Barnett represents the epitome of running in its purest form — it never gets boring to watch Billy run or to see him cross the finish line in first.

Cody Ranfranz cruises

It’s always a little daunting having a bull’s-eye pinned to one’s back at every race, but when you are Cody Ranfranz, that’s just part of being at the top of your game. Kona’s teen speedster began the year the same way he started off the previous year, with a win at January’s Peaman Biathlon. Now at 17 years of age, Ranfranz continues to hold the distinction of being the youngest victor in Peaman Biathlon history at the age of 14, and won all three biathlons entered in 2016.

In addition, Ranfranz claimed big wins at local 5K running events that helped ignite the Wildcat senior to an impressive cross-country season. Ranfranz outright won 5 out of the 6 BIIF cross-country meets which ultimately led to his biggest distinction of the year – becoming the 2016 BIIF Cross Country Champion!

Tawnie McDonald: fastest woman on two wheels

Winning every race one enters is no easy task, but McDonald certainly proved that she was the fastest woman on two wheels – topping the women’s division in all five individual time trial races hosted by the Hawaii Cycling Club. Not only can she ride fast, the Kailua-Kona resident can also climb with some of the island’s strongest male cyclists. McDonald set a new women’s course record at her Sea To Stars debut in August, finishing in an impressive time of 4:32:57.

Ignacio youngest to complete Triple Crown

Running 13.1-miles nonstop can be challenging no matter how fit or fast you are. However, doing it three times in a row as a nine-year old definitely caught my attention as one of the more impressive sports performances of the year.

Ignacio not only became the youngest to complete the Triple Crown race series consisting of the Big Island International Half Marathon (2:12:01), the Kona Half Marathon (2:15:42), and Rainforest Runs Half Marathon (2:12:38), but he also outran over half the field and held an average pace of 10 minutes per mile. If Ignacio can do that as a 9-year old, one can only imagine what he’ll do next year!

Triathlete Malcolm Davis has breakout year

It is not hard to imagine that at just 16 years of age, one can already visualize a bright future for him in the sport of triathlon. The Kapaau resident and junior at Hawaii Preparatory Academy had a breakout year beginning with an impressive 19th overall place and top honors in the 19-and-under age division at this year’s Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic Distance Triathlon in a time of 2:14:54.

Davis also competed in July’s Hilo Triathlon and finished 5th overall among the elite division with a time of 1:56:19. The icing on the cake came with his big victory at October’s Post Ironman Sprint Tri in 45:47. With another year of high school ahead, you can bet to find Davis’ name near the top of all triathlon results.

Heatlhy, stronger Peaman returns to Sports scene

Close friends call it a throwback to his former surfer look while others say that it is an amazing start toward a complete health transformation. Regardless, it wasn’t hard to notice that Big Island’s multisport enthusiast and four-time Ironman World Championship finisher looked better than ever over the past year.

The 53-year old race organizer of the popular Frozen Pea Production Biathlon events battled varying health conditions for most of his young life, and after a near two-decade sabbatical from the multisport arena, Peaman returned to doing what he loves best – swim, bike, run. Way to go Pea!

Foo and Patterson win Triple Crown Swim Series

Bragging rights to Big Island’s Triple Crown of open water swimming went to two young guns, Patterson and Foo. Both completed the summer-series that included the Cinco de Mayo Splash in May, Hapuna Rough Water Swim in June, and wrapped up with the King’s Swim on July 4th. Top male and female awards were based upon the lowest cumulative time between all three events.

Patterson’s most impressive finish happened at the Hapuna Rough Water Swim where she took top overall honors, a first in her swimming career. The 15-year old claimed the runner-up position at The Splash and King’s Swim to fellow Kona Aquatics teammate, Maile Lawson.

And if Foo’s name sounds oddly familiar you are right. Foo’s older siblings – Alyssa, Ky, and Madeline – have topped the results at just about every swim event over the last decade. It is only fitting that the freshman at Kealakehe High School will follow the same path.

Bill Spangrud’s secret to 5K longevity

At just 92-years young, it is almost dizzying keeping up with Spangrud’s race schedule — and race pace. The Kamuela resident competed in nearly every 5K running event on the island — for a total of seven — typically outpacing numerous runners at the finish line.

Some of his most impressive finishes were seen at October’s Run for the Dry Forest 5K, where he traversed over the bumpy and narrow single-track trails of Puuwaawwaa, and recent Jingle Bell Beach Run – braving thunder and heavy rain. If you ever want to know the secret to longevity, just look to Spangrud for motivation.

Bree Wee retires from pro triathlon racing

After eight years, Hawaii’s most decorated female professional triathlete announced her retirement in June. Wee competed in over 100 triathlon races including 26 Ironman distance events, and remains as the only triathlete from the Aloha State, male or female, to ever win an Ironman race — twice!

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Other career highlights include setting the 2007 Ironman World Championship women’s age group record, winning the Lavaman Olympic Distance Triathlon a jaw-dropping nine times, and has set numerous race records at just about every local running, Team Mango triathlon, and Peaman biathlon event in town. By all standards, Wee will always be remembered as one of Hawaii’s greatest inspirations in the sport of triathlon.

Of course there were many great sports stories that occurred over the last year, and many great champions that crossed the finish line, but these highlights best define our 2016 sports year of Swim, Bike and Run.