Volcano runs nixed

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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2008 | WEST HAWAII TODAY

Volcano runs nixed

EVENT CELEBRATED ITS 26TH YEAR IN 2008

After 26 years, the Kilauea Volcano Runs have run their course.

Volcano Art Center and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park announced Friday that the 2008 races, which were held in July of this year, would be the final edition of the annual event.

Officials from the art center and park said in a joint statement that the necessity and appropriateness of the three races – a 26.2-mile marathon, 10-mile rim run and 5-mile caldera run – being held within the national park have been under discussion between the two agencies for the past several years.

Art center officials declined comment on the situation and park officers did not return phone messages left at their offices Friday afternoon.

"I’m disappointed to see it going," race director Wayne Joseph said. "Runners around the world wanted to join in. It was a wonderful event."

The event, conducted under a federal special use permit, required strict compliance to ensure protection of the park’s natural and cultural resources and adherence to national park policy and law, and wilderness regulations.

The summit eruption of Halemaumau Crater that began in March 2008 nearly forced the cancellation of the race this year, but park officials and race organizers worked together to reroute the marathon and 10-mile course to avoid the volcanic fumes and fallout. Sulfur dioxide gas and ash from the ongoing eruption continues to inundate several miles of the former race routes.

"It’s sad they decided it was no longer suitable for the national park," Joseph said.

The Kilauea Volcano Runs celebrated its 26th year in 2008. The races often attracted upward of 1,000 runners, and proceeds from the event benefitted the Volcano Art Center.

It’s unclear at this time how the center will be make up for the loss in funding.

[Posted by Rob Van Geen, rvangeen g m a i l dot com]

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