Sophia Oka-Fedder Shines at Pea Wee Biathlon
By Rani Henderson - West Hawaii Today
When it comes to swimming, 7-year-old Sophia Oka-Fedder says that it’s what she enjoys most about doing Peaman Biathlon events.
But that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the soon-to-be third grader at Holualoa Elementary School comes from a family that notoriously tops the podium at just about every open-water swimming event on the island.
Mom Lori, and uncles, Keola and Garrett Oka, are well known for their fast skills in the water. For young Oka-Fedder, it’s just simply part of her DNA.
“I like swimming,” said a shy Oka-Fedder. “It feels good.”
On Sunday, Oka-Fedder raced away from the field in the shorter Pea Wee course — a fast 200-yard swim and 1-mile run on Alii Drive — sprinting through the finish line surrounded by family and cheering spectators in a time of 14 minutes and 48 seconds.
It was Oka-Fedder’s first overall victory in what’s typically a competitive event for our island’s youth, and is also open to adults who enjoy participating in a shorter course other than the featured ½-mile swim and 3.5-mile run.
Oka-Fedder had only recently begun swimming with the Kona Aquatic swim team just five months ago, and little did anyone know, crossing the finish line in first may have crowned her as the youngest champion in Pea Wee Biathlon history.
But according to the event organizer, Peaman, there is no concrete way to tell for sure.
“Over the years when I’ve wanted to keep records on the Pea Wee course, I found that often times some of the kids would turnaround early in the swim or run,” said Peaman of the inaccuracy of the records.
Yet the beauty of being so young and innocent to the sport is that when it comes to competition, winning, being fast, setting records, or to possibly make history on the famous Pea Wee course – none of that mattered to a girl just out to have a good time with her mom.
“It’s fun,” she said of the swim and run course. “I’ll do it again.”
Following Oka-Fedder in the Pea Wee division was her mom, Lori, who finished a few seconds back in 14:52, and then by the next daughter-mother pair, Beth and Karen Brisson, in 18:41 and 18:44 respectively.
Brothers Josiah (swim) and Austin (run) Randerson teamed up to take the Pea Wee Split Peas title in 11:10, with their dad, Paul, topping the 1-mile run division in 8:12.
Meanwhile, on the big kid’s course that featured a ½-mile swim and 3.5-mile run, Luis De La Torre easily claimed victory with his time of 35:35.
In second place was Konawaena’s Rama (Lawrence) Barrett in 39:47, with Anders Ahlen following in third at 41:09.
Watching all of the action unfold at the finish line was Konawaena High School cross country and track &field head coach, Patrick Bradley.
Bradley, who coaches both the boys and girls teams said that he’s been helping his top two veteran runners, Barrett and Cody Ranfranz, with maintaining their running fitness over the summer break.
As Bradley waited and cheered for Barrett at the finish line, Ranfranz, who won last month’s Peaman Biathlon, was not present as he recently returned from a three-week high altitude running camp in Colorado.
“They have been training on the track twice a week, then a tempo run on Walua trail one day a week and a high altitude long run up on Mauna Kea on Sundays,” Bradley said. “And that’s where we’re headed right after this – up Mauna Kea. We do around seven miles, between 7,000 to 8,000 feet on a secret trail up there.”
Bradley said that his training regimen for the duo began last fall and has continued throughout the year to help prep Barrett and Ranfranz for their senior year – their last attempt to dominate at high school running.
“We want to go first and second both on the Big Island and at states,” he said. “I know they can do it, they have the ability. Lawrence’s gift is speed. So he’s better at the 800 meters and 1500 in track, but he is also good at cross-country as he placed in the top ten at states.
“Cody is more of a long distance runner — the 1500, 3000, and 5000. So they really help each other. If it’s a hard endurance interval – Cody is really strong. If it’s a shorter and harder interval, then Lawrence is strong. So they push each other in practice which makes them great training partners. This is their year – it’s their senior year.”
Fourth overall and first in the women’s division was Kona’s Jennifer Nottage. Nottage led wire-to-wire to easily claim victory with her time of 45:47. A finned Lori Montgomery placed second in 50:57, with Beth McAdams in third at 53:03.
In the ½-mile swim division, Keola Oka topped the field with his time of 15:37, with Sand People and Lava People 1 winning the Split Peas relay division with their combined time of 52:28, and Gym Shortz ran his way to victory in the 3.5-mile course in 32:02.
An action packed morning was capped off with the presenting of the Perpetual Pea – an honor bestowed on individuals or families that represents love, family, friendships and the spirit of aloha for the Big Island community.
This month’s award went to Peaman’s longtime friend, Andrina, whose daughter was one of the two pilots rescued from the ocean a few miles off Kona’s west coast last Friday.
Although it may not have been the largest turnout at Sunday’s Peas on Earth Biathlon, it certainly reinforced fun, family and friendships at yet another incredible Peaman event.