Great Aloha Run winner proposes to girlfriend after race
By Leila Wai and David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writers
About an hour after being the first to cross the finish line at the 26th annual Great Aloha Run yesterday, Sergio Reyes really had something to celebrate.
Of the nearly 21,000 participants who made their way from the start of the 8.15-mile race at Aloha Tower to its finish at the Aloha Stadium, it was Reyes, in front of the finishers and their fans, who asked for the microphone.
“One more thing I just need to do,” said Reyes, a 28-year-old Air Force flight test engineer from Palmdale, Calif. “My whole purpose in coming here was to create a really special environment so that I could bring my girlfriend out with me. It’s been absolutely great, you guys have an absolutely beautiful state. It’s my first time here, I loved the race. And the one last thing I need to do is for my girlfriend to come out here and join me.”
As Aimee Scott, 23, walked out slowly to meet him, the crowd began to realize what was happening and started to respond with cheers.
Reaching into his shorts pocket, Reyes said, “Aimee, thank you so much for coming out here with me.” He touched her shoulder and leaned in so their heads nearly touched. While she giggled and covered her face with her left hand, and he held her right hand in his, he went down to his left knee.
“Baby,” he asked, “Will you marry me?”
As the crowd cheered, the stadium announcer proclaimed, “She said yes!”
The couple hugged, and Reyes lifted Scott off the ground in an embrace.
“No, I had no idea,” Scott said afterwards. “He even told me beforehand that he wasn’t going to propose.
“I was just kind of thinking, ‘No, no, is he? No, no, really?’ ”
It wasn’t the only surprise Reyes delivered to Scott in the past two days. Yesterday morning, Reyes surprised Scott with a trip to Hawai‘i.
“She had no clue what we were even doing for Valentine’s Day,” said Reyes, who won in 41 minutes, 14 seconds. “I was in California yesterday, I picked her up, she had no clue where we were going. I was driving South, and we stopped at the airport and I was like, ‘All right. Grab your bags.’
“I gave her the ticket inside and that’s when she figured out where we were going.”
Scott said the trip came as a complete surprise.
“I thought maybe we were going to go to the beach or something for the day yesterday, maybe San Diego or something, and the next thing I know, I’m on a plane to Hawai‘i,” she said.
Although Reyes had the ring on him during the race, he was unsure of when the proposal would take place.
“I was thinking about bringing her down here and dragging her and embarrassing her in front of everyone, but I haven’t made up my mind yet,” he said after the race. But after some prodding and receiving permission from event organizers so Scott could gain access to the field, Reyes went ahead with the proposal.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
It was just one of many stories of the race that offered something for just about everyone, from novice greenhorns to Olympic-class marathoners, from the ultra-fit to the not so fit, from young to old, military to civilian and local running enthusiasts to visitors from foreign countries.
The women’s winner, Chantelle Wilder, is a former University of Hawai‘i runner. Her brother, Brandon Laan, was the runner-up in the men’s race at 41:34. Laan was also the top Honolulu resident finisher in December’s Honolulu Marathon.
“Today was great, I felt really good,” Wilder said. “Sometimes you’re on and sometimes you’re off and today I was on and I’m happy I came out with a win.”
Laan is Wilder’s coach, and Wilder said “he’s a huge motivator in my life.”
Among the most experienced runners was 84-year-old Maurice French, of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, who has more than 150 marathon’s under the soles of his running shoes.
“I’ve been running all my life,” said French, who finished today’s event “in about two hours.”
“I come to Hawaii every winter because it’s too cold to run at home in Canada,” said French, who retired after a 36-year-run in television production with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
He finds a place in Waikiki every winter, usually near the Ala Wai, where he can run as much as he wants.
“I stay three months out of the year — January, February and March.” French said.
The weather this year put a bit of a crimp in his usual training regimen.
“January was very humid and there was a lack of trade winds. I couldn’t get as much training is as I would have liked, but I try to look at the pluses — I’m lucky to be above ground at this point,” French said.
He gives very high marks, 8 or 9 on a scale of 10, to the way the Great Aloha Run is organized.
”This is extremely well-organized. I registered online and picked up my number over the weekend at the Neal Blaisdell Center. They have lots of good volunteers. It’s just a very upbeat, very exciting event,” French said.
'BEST PART WAS THE FINISH'
At the other end of the experience spectrum, Kaleo Chang, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Kamehameha Schools and a Pearl City resident, was leaving Aloha Stadium with sore legs and feet, but with a mile-wide grin on his face.
“I thought it would be pretty easy, but it was hard. I had to walk part of the way. The best part was the finish,” said Kaleo, who joined his father in the event.
Kawena Akiona, 14, runs track and cross country at Kamehameha, where he is a freshman. He turned in a time of a little more than 53 minutes, good enough for family bragging rights over his mother, Gay Murakami, who finished the course in 58:03.
“It got pretty tough at mile five when my legs started to cramp up, but I was able to work it out and pick it up again at mile 7,” Akiona said.
Akiona, who had run the event once before, said he knew from past experience not to get too excited once Aloha Stadium came into view.
“It’s deceiving — it looks pretty close when you see the stadium but there’s still a ways to go,” he said.
Among today’s runner’s were more than 3,000 active-duty military members who ran in formation as part of the Sounds of Freedom Division.
The Army’s 25th Transportation Company from Schofield Barracks fielded a team of about 50 runners, including a group of “walking wounded” soldiers who were recovering from or were about to undergo surgery for a variety of knee ailments.
“It was too much to try to do the whole race, but we managed to do four miles,” said David Walton, who is built more like a football lineman than a marathon runner.
His shirt soaked through and a brace on his knee, Walton said he planned to “go home, take a bath and relax.”
1st Sgt. Robert Farmer, who completed his fifth Great Aloha Run yesterday, said this year’s “Road Masters” team was only about a third of the 150 troops who normally participate.
“A lot of the others are in Texas, training up to deploy to Iraq the beginning of this summer,” Farmer said.
Army Capt. David Walters and 40 other soldiers from the 545th Transport Company, which works out of Hickam Harbor, was barely breathing hard after his first Aloha Run experience.
“Everyone who turned out for this was doing it for fun,” Walters said. “We stayed as a unit the whole time. The toughest part was the waiting — for the race to begin. We do PT five days a week so we’re all in pretty good condition.”
When not running footraces, the soldiers operate two 273-foot logistics supply ships between Hickam and the port of Kawaihae on the Big Island.
“We transport a lot of cargo back and forth that is used at the Pohakuloa training area on the Big Island, “ Walters said.
Making sure that the military troops stayed hydrated and nourished after the run were 75 volunteers from Pearl City High School, most of them members of the school band.
They handed out bottled water, bananas and “finisher” T-shirts to the military groups that passed through a special exit gate.
Dayna Lopez, who coaches the band’s color guard and teaches world history, said one of the parents of a band member works for Carole Kai Charities, which has been organizing the run since 1985.
“They’re good kids,” Lopez said of the band members. They had to get up at 3 a.m. and be at the stadium by 4:30 to find parking,” Lopez said.
The students who volunteered received no extra credit for their service, and sacrificed a large portion of what would have been a day off from classes to help out with the run, Lopez said.
Event organizers said the Great Aloha Run has raised more than $8.1 million for Carole Kai Charities over the past 25 years. The proceeds have been donated to more than 150 nonprofit organizations throughout Hawaii, including major recipients the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, various military Morale Welfare and Recreation offices, and the United Cerebral Palsy Association.
Kaiser Permanente became title sponsor of the race this year.
For more information about the event, visit www.greataloharun.com.
Reach Leila Wai at 535-2457. Reach David Waite at 525-7412