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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Waikiki run will benefit schools

By Katherine Nichols
Advertiser Staff Writer

The prizes are exciting, the course flat and fast, the crowd enthusiastic. But the Niketown 5K is about much more than a 3.1 mile race through the rarely-closed streets of Waikiki.

Niketown 5K
(3.1 mile run/walk)
Optional Kids Run (1 mile)
 •  When: 7 a.m. Sunday
 •  To enter: Late entries accepted through 7 p.m. Saturday at Niketown Honolulu. $25 cash or credit card only
 •  Course: Start at Niketown on Kalakaua Ave., run Diamond Head through Waikiki, left on Monsarrat Avenue, left on Paki Avenue (which becomes Ala Wai Boulevard). Finish at the intersection of Kuhio Avenue and Kalaimoku, at Niketown.
 •  Information: 943-6453
Every participant's entry fee will be donated to O'ahu's public and private schools to aid athletic programs or replace play equipment. The inaugural event last year was a huge success; more than $36,000 was raised.

So how does a campus reap the benefits? By asking friends to write the school's name on the entry form, designating where the money will go. Some, like Epiphany School in Kaimuki, are encouraging the formation of student-parent-teacher teams. They hope to purchase basics such as balls, nets and rope, as well as mats and a balance beam for younger physical education classes to integrate rhythm into their curriculum, and heart-rate monitors for older students to keep track of their cardiovascular activity. "It seemed like a very healthy, fun way to get two jobs done: raise money and raise health awareness in the school," said head of school Edna Hussey.

For keiki under age 12 not able to complete 3.1 miles, a one-mile "Optional Kids Run" will be held at Fort DeRussy Park. Parents are welcome to participate with their children, and goodies will be served at the end. According to voluntary school coordinator Kate Alexander, this year's post-race activities will include features for smaller children, such as goodie bags and clowns.

But the real point of the untimed one-mile event is that "you don't have to be a runner to do this," said Alexander, who owns a payroll processing and accounting company, and who even invited her girlfriends "who don't run" to join her in the 5K to support Ahuimanu Elementary School, where her son attends.

Niketown has set a limit of 3,000 for the event. To ensure that every dollar goes to the specified schools, the company underwrites all expenses, including time-keeping (computer chips attached to ankles will be used this year), T-shirts and permits.

A few years ago, "90 percent of the playground equipment in public schools were condemned ... literally off limits," said Alexander. "When that happened, nobody had the money to replace it. But Ma'ema'e took Niketown to heart. They were the top participant last year." And numbers do matter. Alexander explained that when visitors sign up for the race, they often don't select a particular school. That money gets divided among the schools, with the most funds going to the schools with the most participation.