This year’s Makahiki Challenge will be held at Kualoa Ranch on Dec. 17. The race, which is sponsored by Kona Brewing Co., the Kualoa Ranch and others, is a test of one’s strength, wit and endurance as participants venture through more than three miles of obstacles over hills and through mud.
The word “makahiki” means annual or yearly in Hawaiian and refers to the season from around October until February when Native Hawaiians celebrated the new year.
Whereas the lighting of a flame signifies the beginning of the ancient Greek and modern Olympic Games, Native Hawaiians began their makahiki games upon the appearance of the star constellation Pleiades, also known as makali’i in Hawaiian.
The Makahiki Challenge is an annual event that covers all aspects of a makahiki festival such as competitions that test the human body and mind as well as live music and dancing after the race.
Among the 12 events, participants will be tasked with overcoming obstacles like the “warped wall,” a 12-foot wall that participants must figure out how to climb over. They must also crawl through the “mud pits,” an obstacle that involves crawling under ropes through the mud and epitomizes the challenge’s slogan, “Let’s get Lepo” (“lepo” meaning “dirty” in Hawaiian).
“The obstacles sound pretty crazy but the purpose of this challenge is to get people out here and be active while having a good time and enjoying the serene beauty of O’ahu,” race director Kapu Gaison said. “Getting down in the dirt where you can see nothing but green? Hopefully the people participating will see just how beautiful our land really is.”
According to Gaison, the race isn’t considered a competitive event, but there is a timed heat at 8:00 a.m. for those who really want to compete against one another. The rest of the participants follow later in the day.
Gaison describes the Kualoa Ranch as a different world with its green open fields nestled in between the Ko‘olau Mountains, which is one reason why it was chosen to be the site of the challenge. The Kualoa Ranch was also one of the original locations that Native Hawaiians held their makahiki games on O’ahu.
Gaison also says the Makahiki Challenge can be a starting point to being more active or attempting similar events. 2015 challenge participant Jurnee Fortes-Moore agrees.
“My New Year’s resolution was to be more active and try competing in obstacle courses,” she said. “The Makahiki Challenge was the first one I signed up for and it got me hooked on it … although there were many obstacles I had trouble with, like the wall jump, but there were so many people there willing to help out … it was an amazing experience.”
At the finish line, participants will be rewarded with a pa’ina of “ono grinds,” drinks and live music. In past events, local musical groups such as Kapena, Kolohe Kai and Eli-Mac have performed. If race finishers are 21 years or and older, they can enjoy beer courtesy of the Kona Brewing Company.
“The Pa’ina is the time for all of us to relax and enjoy each other’s company,” Gaison said.
Unfortunately, registration is already closed for this year’s event but for more information on the challenge, email the event organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Joshua Farias, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter