MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - More than 150 participants gathered at Dewey Square for the 7th annual King of the Hill race, Jan. 25, 2014.
The five-kilometer race, which is part of the Commanding Officer’s Fitness Series, began and ended at Dewey Square, and included running up Kansas Tower Hill.
“The KT Hill itself is very challenging,” said Megan Early, Semper Fit Center athletic director and King of the Hill coordinator. “(King of the Hill) is neat because you get to see such a great view from the top. It’s still a challenge, but it’s not as daunting to some people who may not be as comfortable running or are just getting into races.”
This year, King of the Hill was a joint effort between Marine Corps Community Services and Patrol Squadron 47. Patrol Squadron 9 regularly supports King of the Hill, but they are currently deployed. More than 30 volunteers with the VP-47 Golden Swordsmen and MCCS helped with various tasks, including set-up, breakdown and directing racers.
In the dark, cool morning, Marines, sailors, family and local community members headed across the street from Dewey Square to the narrow starting line on the street next to the base flagpole.
Among the participants were eight members of the Van Buren family, including twins in a stroller.
“(King of the Hill is) just one way to get the family together,” said participant Jennifer Van Buren. “It’s not going to be a fun race. I’ve gone up KT before with the twins and it’s not fun. But it’s one way for the grandparents to bond with the kids and (my husband and I) can run together as a couple.”
The sounds of sneakers and strollers dissipated in the distance, and Dewey Square was quiet except for the ticking of the giant race timer awaiting the participants. But before long, racers were descending Kansas Tower Hill and heading for the finish line. The fastest racers were finished within 20 minutes.
Brian Erickson, the commanding officer of VP-47, ran his first King of the Hill to inspire the Marines and sailors to better themselves while giving back to the community and promoting “a culture of fitness.”
The native of Devils Lake, N.D., who finished King of the Hill in 25:05, regularly runs races throughout the year, including five-kilometer races and half-marathons.
“King of the Hill is probably one of the tougher races I (have run), especially of this distance just because that hill is so brutal,” said Erickson, who earned third place in the 40 to 44-year-old division. “It is truly a challenge.”
Erickson added that Saturday’s conditions were “probably the best race weather you could have — gorgeous temperature, sunshine and very little wind.”
“This is an absolutely wonderful base-run series,” Erickson said. “I’ve run a lot of runs on a lot of bases and MCCS probably runs and orchestrates their series of races better than anyone. VP-47’s very honored to be a part of (King of the Hill) as a supporter because the base does such a great job.”
Males and females received first, second and third place in 10 different age categories. There were also overall first, second and third place male and female winners.
Kevin Perez, a sailor with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37, took second place in the men’s 20 to 24-year-old division with a time of 22:30. The North Plainfield, N.J., native said he participated in King of the Hill to get to know people from the local community and see the beauty of the surrounding area.
“(The race also gives me a) chance to do something I love to do, which is run,” Perez said. “The hill was a struggle for me, personally, but overall (the race) was really well maintained (and) well organized.”
Perez and his friend, Chad De Costa, of Kailua, Hawaii, both placed in their respective age categories.
“The organizers put on a great event,” De Costa said. “If they say it starts at 7 (a.m.), it’s at 7.”
De Costa, 41, took first place in the 40 to 44-year-old division with a time of 20:56. He said he participated in King of the Hill because of his love for fitness.
“I’m very excited with my results. I trained hard for this. You have to train properly for the hill,” De Costa said. “I take this seriously but I enjoy interacting with (the service members). I always congratulate the competitors. Most importantly you’re racing yourself and you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can and just trying to achieve what God allows you to achieve, and bring humbleness and peace in my life.”
The next race in the Commanding Officer’s Fitness Series is the annual Swamp Romp, scheduled for Feb. 8 at 7 a.m., and includes a run through Nuupia Ponds and Fort Hase Beach. Registration for the 3.5-mile mud run ends Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. Participants must pick up their packets Feb. 7 at the Health, Fitness & Wellness Expo at Semper Fit. For more information, visit http://www.mccshawaii.com/swampromp/.