Runnin’ with Rani: It’s official: a full Lavaman Waikoloa Race gets the green light

  • The 23rd annual Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic Distance triathlon event scheduled for Sunday, April 3rd, has been given the green light to return to the shores of Anaehoomalu Bay as a full race event complete with live music, awards ceremony, and the best post-race party in triathlon. Registration is still available until March 15. (Courtesy Photo/Anders Carlson)

It’s time to celebrate as the “Best Party in Triathlon” is back!

The 23rd annual Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic Distance triathlon event scheduled for Sunday, April 3, has been given the green light to return to the shores of Anaehoomalu Bay as a full race event complete with live music, awards ceremony, and finishing off with the best post-race party in triathlon.

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The festive weekend will once again include an array of events starting off with the Lavaman Sunset 5K on Friday (4/1/22), LavaKids Aquathlon on Saturday (4/2/22), Sports & Fitness Expo (Friday and Saturday), and Sunday’s Marquee event – an Olympic Distance triathlon featuring a 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and a 10K run.

Lavaman founder and race director, Gerry Rott, said she was nearly “bursting” upon hearing the news of Mayor Mitch Roth’s announcement on February 28 to end all COVID-19 health restrictions in Hawaii County, effective immediately.

“I’m so elated,” Rott said. “It’s been a long time coming and we’ve been ready three times to go before we had to cancel. The fourth time’s the charm. We were ready to go, to do it with all the COVID restrictions and protocols and we would’ve still had a good race, but now we are back full strength like we should be.”

Rott said it was just two weeks prior to Mayor Roth’s announcement that she received approval from the County of Hawaii to hold the April 3 event based on COVID protocols she was required to have in place. Some of those protocols included proof of vaccination or negative COVID test, indoor masking, social distancing at the start and finish line areas, and other restrictions recommended by the CDC.

Then in a press release issued on February 28, Mayor Roth announced the end to all emergency rules related to COVID-19, including those that govern the size of social gatherings both indoors and outdoors. The announcement marks the first time in two years the Big Island has not had emergency rules in place due to COVID-19.

Rott explained that prior to Mayor Roth ending all COVID-19 emergency rules, her popular Lavaman triathlon event was carefully planned to have athletes “just race and go.”

“There was no touching at the finish line as we hand the athletes their medals and masks,” Rott said. “We weren’t going to have the beach barbeque buffet — it was going to have to be a contained lunch that we hand out. No awards ceremony. We could still have beer at the finish line but we couldn’t encourage people to stick around.

“There wasn’t going to be any recognition of the winners because after you get your award, you would need to go. Athletes would not be allowed to stick around and celebrate what they accomplished and celebrate with the volunteers who helped them to accomplish it. That’s another thing, having all of these restrictions lifted really brings back the athletes and the volunteers.”

The rolling wave start however, is one protocol that will remain. Athletes will start the 1.5K swim segment in waves of five athletes, with each wave spaced five seconds apart. Age groups will also be separated from one another by five minutes.

“From what I learned from other race directors who utilize the rolling wave starts, it spreads the field out really nicely and ultimately presents a safer race,” Rott said. “It spreads the swim out, which spreads the bike segment out, which also spreads the aid stations out. It really makes for a less congested race.”

Rott anticipates there will be a total of 1400 participants — a little less than the 1800 competitors in years past — but a total of 1000 individuals and 125 relay teams. Anyone still interested may register for the event up until March 15 on the Lavaman website www.lavamantriathlon.com.

The Lavaman Waikoloa weekend will begin on Friday, April 1, with the Sports & Fitness Expo from 11 a.m. till 5 p.m. which will run again on Saturday. Rott said that while the Expo will be “a bit smaller this year” due to vendors from the mainland not being able to attend on such short notice, the Expo will highlight local businesses around the island and allow athletes to pick up their race packets. Friday afternoon will conclude with the classic Lavaman Sunset 5K Run at 5:15 p.m. organized by PATH.

Saturday morning will showcase Big Island youth with the highly anticipated Lavakids Aquathlon and Keiki Dash held at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Participants in the Lavakids Aquathlon will be limited to the first 100 to register. The short Aquathlon distance will be geared for ages 7-11 years and will feature a 100-meter swim followed by a 1K run. Children between the ages of 11-14 can register for the longer 200-meter swim and 2K run. There will be no race cap for the 100-yard Keiki Dash geared for those 3 to 7 years of age.

Parents will be able to register their child online at www.lavakids.org. Youth athletes will receive a medal, a race shirt, and a healthy treat.

And of course, Rott is still in need of community volunteers to assist with varying positions on race day.

“We give donations to nonprofit groups who provide a minimum of 12 volunteers,” she said. “We definitely could still use more volunteers for the Green Team, which will be run by my daughter-in-law, Monica. She has been working hard on moving the event toward zero waste so that at the end of the day, we can make our impact on the environment less, we can make our footprint less.”

Other areas Rott will need more volunteers for are qualified water patrol men and women, certified lifeguards, course guides for the run and bike, transition area, aid stations, and set up and tear down.

As for the upcoming 23rd annual Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon event, Rott said, “The last three years have been such a disappointment and shock in the change of our lifestyle – not just for Lavaman but for everyone. For me, this is like it’s opening all up again and I’m excited.”

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