Great Aloha Run fatal for participant, 58


POSTED: Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A 58-year-old man died yesterday after participating in the Great Aloha Run—the first time anyone has died in the 25 years of the popular 8-mile race.

;[Preview]Great Aloha Race Runner Dies Near Finish

A man collasped near the finish line of the Aloha Stadium and died of apparent cardiac arrest.

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  The man was in cardiac arrest in the parking lot of Aloha Stadium by the time Honolulu fire rescue personnel arrived at 9:40 a.m., said Fire Capt. Terry Seelig.

Police said the man was pronounced dead at Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi at 10:28 a.m.

“;No one has ever died after doing the Great Aloha Run,”; said race director Carol Jaxon, known as “;C.J.”;

According to Jaxon, the man had been sitting with several other people near the Anuenue snack bar in the Aloha Stadium parking lot. Some medical volunteers with the race noticed the man and asked a woman sitting next to him if she knew him.

“;No, I think he's sleeping,”; the woman told the medical volunteers.

The woman then shook him, Jaxon said, and he was unresponsive. A person nearby who teaches CPR classes took over CPR until paramedics arrived. Honolulu firefighters arrived to see an Automated External Defibrillator, a device to treat cardiac arrest patients, attached to the man. Paramedics took the man to Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi.

Race co-founder Carole Kai said in a statement, “;We are deeply saddened about this tragic event, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the runner's family.”;

One other participant, a “;sickened woman,”; in the Great Aloha Run was taken to Pali Momi as well, Jaxon said. There were no further details on the woman's condition.

The Great Aloha Run is one of Honolulu's most popular races, known as an annual event that anyone—regardless of age, gender or body type—can run. The fastest runners finish the race in less than an hour, while others who walk the course from downtown Honolulu to Halawa finish several hours later.

The Great Aloha Run is typically a joyous event on the Presidents Day holiday.

Ken Shirk, 64, of Kona—known as “;Cowman”;—has been running the race every year for the past 25 years.

Shirk took the nickname “;Cowman”; because he would always wear cowboy hats when he was young. At the Great Aloha Run, he is also famous for his signature helmet and horns.

“;The Great Aloha Run, even though it's a short race, it's about being with the people and letting them know you know,”; Cowman said. “;It's not about how fast you are. It's about participating and supporting a good cause.”;

The race benefits the Carole Kai Charities, which donates money to several organizations, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and United Cerebral Palsy Association. According to race organizers, 20,582 people registered to participate in the race, including 2,247 military personnel.

Sparkie Ewing, 61, of Makiki has also been running the race for 25 years. When she ran her first race, she could not even jog a mile.

“;Even if I get to the point where I have to crawl across the finish line one day, I will do it,”; Ewing said.