Run for the Dry Forest returns to Puuwaawaa

  • After a multi-year hiatus, more than 300 runners returned to Puuwaawaa for Saturday’s 15th annual Run for the Dry Forest trail races. (Maggie Stith/Special to West Hawaii Today)

After a multi-year hiatus, more than 300 runners returned to Puuwaawaa for Saturday’s 15th annual Run for the Dry Forest trail races.

The trio of events included a 10K race where participants challenged themselves to an extreme trail running experience featuring a 1200 feet elevation gain in the first three miles followed by a fast, single-track descent through an old corral and horse pasture.


Volcano’s Billy Barnett claimed top honors in the 10K event winning in a fabulous time of 42 minutes and 40 seconds. Barnett was followed by Waikoloa’s cycling phenom, Samuel Anderson-Moxley in a time of 45:34, and recent Ironman World Championship finisher, Daniel Hill, in third place at 45:53.

In the women’s division, Kailua-Kona’s Bree Wee won gold with her time of 49:02. Wee recently completed her 25th Ironman distance race and seventh Ironman World Championships just three weeks ago. Hilo’s Stephanie Mladinich claimed silver with her time of 51:53, followed by Alexis Van Pernis in bronze at 56:35.

For those who sought a more relaxed trail experience, the 5K course featured a 300-feet elevation gain over stretches of dirt, coarse rock, and paved roads.

Andre Chow-Vega from Hawi won the 5K division with his swift time of 22:36. The race for second and third place turned out to be a fun battle between Elliot Parsons and Brock Stratton, who are both from Kailua-Kona. Parsons edged Stratton by a mere three seconds to take second place in a time of 23:08, with Stratton a few strides back in third at 23:11.

The women’s race witnessed Waikoloa’s Sadie Fair cross the finish line in first with her time of 24:46. Kailua-Kona’s Abby Paterson and Hilo’s Nanea Babila claimed second and third place with their times of 25:29 and 26:41 respectively.

For the Keiki, there was also a fun, non-competitive ¼-mile run around the reservoir.

The Run for the Dry Forest at Puuwaawaa is a partnership between the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests, the U.S. Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, the Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, and the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Puuwaawaa lies on the northern flank of Hualalai’s dormant volcano featuring an exotic native dry land forest home to endangered bird and plant species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. These organizations work toward conservation, preservation, and restoration efforts, as well as, raising awareness and public education of that region. Puuwaawaa’s most prominent landmark is a majestic ancient volcanic cinder cone where the land derives its name.

With the Puuwaawaa dry forest region so rich in history and astounding natural beauty, and as one of the few off-road running events offered on the Big Island, the Run for the Dry Forest 10K, 5K, and Keiki trail runs should certainly be on every runner’s bucket list.

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