Kupuna Share Stories Of Old Kailua

Coach April Nakayama gives tips to Kalaheo High School's girls varsity canoe team late last year during practice. It's one of many teams and clubs that paddle at Kailua BODIE COLLINS PHOTO

Coach April Nakayama gives tips to Kalaheo High School’s girls varsity canoe team late last year during practice. It’s one of many teams and clubs that paddle at Kailua BODIE COLLINS PHOTO

It is the worst-kept secret in all of Hawaii.

Sleepy Kailua is no longer a quiet and quaint little town. Thanks to social media and a surge in visitor interest, Kailua is very much alive these days, and for those who’ve called the Windward Oahu residential community home for decades, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

But through all the changes, one event has remained constant: Kailua Canoe Club’s annual Dash and Splash.

This year marks the 29th runner’s race and swim. It started as a small and humble event in 1985 and has grown into one of the most popular biathlons in Hawaii.

“The goal this year is to increase participant numbers while reaching out to other paddling clubs, military personnel, CrossFit groups and companies,” says longtime Kailua Canoe Club paddler Lois Wise. “The concept of a race within a race is so that others may feel the energy that Kailua Beach has to offer.”

Event organizers have added a new feature to this year’s race after recognizing an opportunity to educate.

“We added a 5K course along the beach that will feature ‘story stops’ from long-time Kailua residents,” explains Wise. “Many of these stories focus on the beauty of Kailua Bay and its breathtaking views and energy.”

Several weeks ago, race organizers hosted a special event they called “Story Stop Time.” The goal of the gathering was to bring together kupuna and longtime residents of Kailua and provide them with a venue to share their stories and memories of Kailua Bay. Creative artists also were on hand to help put their stories to paper.

“It was a small gathering, and each person shared a time that no longer exists,” says Wise. “Stu Kalama re-created his grandpa Gramburg’s hukilau net to share what he was taught to do as a young boy — to fish and to share with your neighbors. All of us were all eyes and ears as each kupuna shared their life back then. It was a simple and caring time when everyone knew everyone else.”

Wise says the artists’ drawings and renderings will be placed along the 5K course to give those who wish to learn a look at why Kailua is so special.

“The mana and the history of those who lived before us still inspire us,” says Wise. “The stories were told as artists listened and put to paper what they heard. It is a chance to pass on to generations who will never see Kailua Beach as it was a long time ago.”

The annual Kailua Canoe Club fundraiser has helped support beach and mangrove cleanups, while preserving the Hawaiian language and culture through canoe paddling.

“Kailua Canoe Club is a special group of people who enjoy the sport of paddling and the camaraderie that it offers,” says Wise. “There is no age limit or race discrimination. The heart of the club is the ohana, the family, and the generations of paddlers who continue until this day.”

This year’s Dash and Splash is scheduled for Sunday, April 26, at 7 a.m. at Kailua Beach. Cost to participate is $30 for adult individuals, $60 for relay and $20 for keiki. For more information on Dash and Splash, including registration, go to kailuacanoeclub.com.

“Come and enjoy this great race in one of the most beautiful beaches in the world,” says Wise. “And, if you like, linger awhile, hear the stories of old, and maybe you’ll make some new memories with some newfound friends.”

This is one secret that needs to be shared.