By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
This is a view of H-3, seen from Likelike Highway.
The same photo taken Sunday could have
more than 17,000 people on it.

“Anyone...who loves
the land, they’re
Hawaiian too”

Two points of view converge: Is H-3 trek
a desecration or a celebration of the
breathtaking beauty of Hawaii?

By Pat Omandam

At the Great Trans Koolau Trek tent at Kapiolani Park, Dr. Jack H. Scaff Jr. juggles calls on his cellular phone while he advises volunteer staff and greets race participants.

"I'm exhausted," said Scaff, race director of Sunday's 10-mile footrace over the H-3 freeway. "I've lost about 14 pounds since the first of the year, and not intentionally."

The "stress diet," as Scaff jokingly calls it, underlines the major challenges in organizing a one-time event on a strip of highway that carries more than 30 years of cultural, religious, environmental and political baggage.

The $1.2 billion freeway, linking Kaneohe Marine Corps Base to Pearl Harbor, will finally open in mid-December. This weekend, however, nearly 17,500 race participants will get a sneak preview of some breathtaking scenery in Haiku and Halawa valleys.

Over the past couple of weeks, Hawaii residents already have gotten a preview of the protests that native Hawaiians plan to stage over the run. They say the H-3 desecrates sacred heiau and burial sites in both valleys.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Manulani De La Cruz holds up the H-3 medal, which
finishers of the race will receive, and a commemorative
coin, which will be sold.

Tom Tsuhako, a Manoa resident who entered the race to get back in shape and because friends asked him to, said the protests are not an issue because it is unlikely the state will dismantle the freeway.

"It's called progress," said Ruth Batacan of Kapolei. Batacan and her friend Trudy Sniffen of Pearl City are among 20 workers from Liberty House Pearlridge who will run on Sunday. Both women completed the recent Great Aloha Run and the Honolulu Marathon and say this opportunity won't come again.

"This is a one-time thing, and we want to do it," Sniffen said.

But one person who won't step foot onto the freeway is Mahealani Cypher, a community activist who believes any use of the H-3 is dangerous. Cypher said Hawaiian religion establishes Halawa Valley as the birthplace of Papahanamoku, the Mother Earth who gave birth to the Hawaiian Islands. H-3 opponents say it is from Papahanamoku that the values of malama aina (care of the land) and ohana (family) were established.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Norman Uyeda explains race rules to Gloria and
Manuel Celedon at the H-3 Expo at Kapiolani Park..

When the H-3 was built through the valley, it created a great hewa, or wrong, a long-lasting curse that stays with the perpetrators for seven generations or until the hewa, in this case the freeway, is gone. She cautioned participants to consider their actions.

"So when you run on this road, and you treat it with disrespect, you take on that same hewa because you're supporting what the state has done," said Cypher, who added carrying ti leaves or Hawaiian salt during the race will not help.

"That is not going to protect you from the hewa. The hewa is there. And its not going to go away until the hewa is removed."

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
The H-3 freeway cuts across the Windward side of the cliffs
above Kaneohe before entering Haiku valley.

But not all Hawaiians agree. Race volunteer Casey Wilder, a member of the Pearl Harbor Lions Club, said realignment of the freeway avoids the cultural sites in the valley. She points out that those putting on the race did not build the freeway.

"I don't see the disrespect," Wilder said. "I'm Hawaiian. To me, anyone who takes care of the land, who loves the land, they're Hawaiian too."

Scaff said the race has given H-3 opponents a forum to voice their objections.

"So we haven't hurt them. We didn't build it so they're not castigating us. It's a chance for them to get exposure and I don't deny them that," Scaff said.

The state has allowed up to a dozen people access to religious sites in Halawa tomorrow night for prayers. Transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali said the group must be out of the valley by 6 p.m. Sunday, the usual time access to the valley for traditional or cultural practices ends.

Kali said the department will close the narrow access road -- which starts at the end of Halawa Valley Road -- from May 9 to 12 for safety reasons and race preparations. Access to the sites are allowed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.

Kali said plans call for the access road, which snakes underneath the freeway in Halawa, to be removed once the H-3 is complete, although the Honolulu Fire Department and other agencies have asked to keep it. The sheriff's department provides security for the area and keeps a log of who is granted access by the Transportation Department, she said.

"Generally, maybe once or twice a month, a couple of people will go in," Kali said.

"Its not very regular. And sometimes months will go past and nobody will go up there."

<A HREF="">[View QuickTime VR]</A>
By Blaine Fergerstrom, special to the Star-Bulletin
Quicktime VR: This is a 360° view of the H-3 freeway in
Haiku Valley just outside the two main tunnel entrances
taken last year at "A Taste of H-3." If you have Quicktime VR
software installed, click on the picture to view the panorama.
To get the software and instructions, click here.

The race

The Great Trans Koolau Trek takes place Sunday:

Participants: About 18,000 from 46 states and 41 countries.

Length: 10 miles from Kaneohe to Aloha Stadium

Starting times: Four groups arranged by color will begin the race at 7 a.m. (white); 7:45 a.m. (yellow); 8:30 a.m. (Green); and 9:15 a.m. (red).

Parking: Available at Aloha Stadium, Kapiolani Park and between Halekou Street and Kaneohe Bay Drive. Shuttles will ferry runners to staging area.

Related happenings

A pre-race hoolaulea is planned through tonight near the Windward start of the H-3. Pickup of race packets for runners continues through 7 p.m. tomorrow at Kapiolani Park.

What: AT&T World of Aloha Hoolaulea, a benefit for Windward public schools.

When: 2 p.m.-10 p.m. today.

Where: Just past the H-3 interchange in Kaneohe. Parking across from Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery. Shuttles to block party.

Entertainment: Kapena, Aunty Irmgard & Puamana, Teresa Bright, Del Beazly & Dub Shop, Frank Hewett & Kana'e, Moe Keale, the Royal Hawaiian Band, George Kuo with Kipapa Rush Band, Herb Ohta Jr. & Friends, Forte, Don George & the Country Dancers of Hawaii

Also: Food booths, games and a tour of the H-3 Tunnel.

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