Trilanai, where do I even begin! The entire experience from the day I agreed to go, to the moment we landed back in Kona surpassed every single expectation! First, without a doubt, a huge MAHALO goes out to Chris, the race director of Trilanai. He was unreal at answering every question a clueless blonde girl could possibly text anytime of day. He truly has set up a top notch race on the quiet island of Lanai and made it something more wonderful than a race. And I know, I've been to a lot of races!
Let's back up...
Why this race? Why Lanai? Why not Lanai!? I have always adored that little island and often imagine a secret hideaway there when I'm 80 or to write a book. Back to the race. The race is the "official TRI for a purpose bigger than yourself"! I'll be honest, he asked me to speak at a prerace clinic, I did not want to. Oh, I wanted to give back, but I really am clueless on mountain biking. We will get to that later. I landed Friday in the clinic and it became something so special to me. A handful of local Lanai residents came out and a few Maui boys, and a mainland chiropractor who cracked me up (maybe the only one with less mountain bike experience than me).
The clinic was awesome! The locals I meant put the "give back to the island" more into effect than just being part of the race. Passion for their home was just radiating from their every expression of thanks. I'll tell you why this race, the island is so small! Of all our islands it lacks the most economic help from tourism, the population is so small that the entire school (grade k-12) struggles to even put sport on the map for the island because they barely can make a team of themselves. BUT...they care, they want to, and they believe in health, fitness, and opportunity.
What does Trilanai do? The event gives back 100% to the community, all of it. From previous races they have supplied the basketball team with shoes, sent the football team to Maui to play in a game, and get this-EVERY SINGLE Lanai youth (20 and under) that enters the race and finishes gets back their entry fee. I was so proud to be part of it, even if it meant having to ride down a scary hill with rocks about to eat me!
Kainoa and I boarded the ferry from Maui to Lanai Friday morning. The great part: $25 bucks for both of us and that includes the cost to travel with my bike (and we did not have to pack bikes on the ferry)! The trip was beautiful, easy, and smooth waters across the Pacific.
Lanai stole both Kainoa and my hearts, it is unreal beauty. So untouched and very welcoming. Every face holds a smile, every hand reaches out to embrace you, we felt like a small part of heaven just landed on Earth. Friday we did the clinic, ate dinner in town (its small, less than 3,000 people total, a couple places to eat, and lots of tall trees).
Saturday morning was the race. And of course I was first in line for bike support. BIG thanks to Janet of BIKE WORKS Kona for letting me borrow her mountain bike. Well, in that line stood a girl who usually pumps her tires to 100-110. Did you know I had WAY TOO MUCH air? Yes, a good 40 was all it took! We let out air, they showed me how to change up the shocks for the down hill part, and then it was go time! I tried to warm up on the bike, decided it would be better to fall in the race than before it, and swam instead.
...a little prerace blessing and prayer.
Then swim! Conrad Stoltz beat everyone out of the water, but another local girl and I were super close behind him and had views of his back up the first part of the hill. THEN, never again! He rode so fast it was awesome!
This photo should not even be posted, it is a total misconception of the bike course! Really. We do climb a pretty nice hill on an old paved road, that is true, but then...after that...the only part I thought was east...we go on rocks! Maybe it has a lot to do with my fear of falling down a hill with rocks in my face, but I was so scared! One drop I looked down, screamed, then just held my breath! The course is amazing because the beauty it holds, the challenge we all get to overcome, (yes, 100% of the starters finished!!), but it can totally get you out of your comfort zone, that in itself makes me think this race has the potential to get big! It's legit.
I kept thinking of Mike and all his words of encouragement in my head. He can race down hills so much better than me. Then I reminded myself this race has just one purpose, "Support Lanai", that got me down the hills. Going from second to like 16 guys out biking me was pretty scary. I'm okay with being humbled, but I had to keep turning around to see if I was about to get ran over while someone jumped or launched off a rock over my head!
Onto the run without a scratch! Mission possible! Mike was waiting in T2 with some love: "You have a lot of work to make up". And I did. I ran back into 6th place with those first 5 guys that rock raced over me taking the top 5. It was so much fun, I will be back. My mission will include practice on the mountain bike, but more importantly it will include trying to gather up more people from the Big Island to support the event. So far I have Mike, Brooke, Nick, Kawika and a relay all sold!
We all gathered a lot of beach time after the race and then off into the giant trees for dinner. You can see the ENTIRE town of Lanai in the photo below, it has become really special to me and I'm proud to be a huge Trilanai supporter now!
Have a good week and thanks for reading!