Skating to 300 miles: Roller derby team creates virtual challenge for members, Big Island community

  • The Echo City Knockouts roller derby team roll their way down the street at the Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade in 2018. The Knockouts' Miki Hajek has created a virtual challenge for the team and community members to skate — or run, bike, etc. — the 300 miles around the Big Island. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today File Photo)

A trip around the Big Island is 300 miles — a mighty task for someone on roller skates, unless those 300 miles are virtual and don’t have to be completed in one trip.

Kailua-Kona’s roller derby team the Echo City Knockouts have been without practice for months due to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down all contact sports. To stay on top of their skating game, Miki Hajek and other team members have been participating in virtual challenges to log the time they’ve spent skating out of the rink.

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After completing the Skate the Bay Challenge, where miles logged equaled the miles it took to skate around the San Francisco Bay, Hajek decided to create a similar challenge for the island.

“I finished that one, which was 155 miles, and I was still skating. But I’m kind of a lazy person by nature, so I need to have a goal to keep going,” Hajek said. “I created the new challenge on my own, and this time I did it for the Big Island of Hawaii.”

The Virtual Circle of Hawaii’s Big Island Challenge currently has 65 participants that are skating — as well as running, walking, hiking, biking and countless other exercise methods — their way around the island. The participants are taking part in the challenge individually wherever their favorite place to exercise is in order to keep themselves socially distant.

Hajek and the Echo City Knockouts have already done the challenge once, as a way to boost team morale during the pandemic.

“I started the challenge for my team, and that was a team effort. We put everyone’s miles together, and we went around the island. So I would skate three miles, and then someone else skates three miles, and we just put together how many miles we moved,” Hajek said. “And that got us together, to have the same goal as a team.”

Hajek then decided to open up the challenge to everyone who wants to participate. Participants have one year to complete the challenge.

“Now that some of us are still in the habit of skating, I figured we would circle the island as individuals, but this time, I made it a one year time frame, and opened it up to other people,” Hajek said. “Some of the girls have family members that don’t skate but they still like to come out to the trails and they ride bikes and stuff like that, so I opened it up for everyone. So you can use your steps from your Fitbit or watch, add that up and see where you go.”

Hajek said she still keeps to the team’s usual schedule of practice at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays to skate for the challenge. She said she frequents Ane Keohokalole Highway as a relatively safe road to skate next to.

“That’s probably the safest road to skate and it’s mostly flat,” Hajek said. “I actually go out there with a leafblower and keep the trail clean, to clear pebbles so it’s safe for roller skating.”

It only cost $1 to join the challenge.

“I wish I could offer this for free, but there is a $1 fee the hosting site charges me, so I do ask for a $1 donation,” Hajek said.

Hajek said there is no return date set for the Echo City Knockouts to be able to practice at their home rink at Old Kona Airport Park. She said they need the county’s permission to be able to practice, and when they do return, the practices will be no-contact.

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Until then, the team will still be skating, one mile of the island at a time.

To join the Virtual Circle of Hawaii’s Big Island Challenge, visit: https://www.challengehound.com/join/fcaa24a0-db35-11ea-9a09-292ca2a2272a. Participants are asked to donate $1 to join.

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