In high school, Kenneth Stover went by his middle name – Patrick – which became widely known in the running community. In 2006 as a senior at Konawaena High School on the Big Island, Patrick Stover won the BIIF cross-country title. In the Hawaii State Track and Field finals that same year, Stover was second in the 800-meter run (1:57) and third in the 1500-meter run (4:11).
After school, however, Stover stopped running competitively and enjoyed his freedom, his paycheck, and his time with friends.
“I got into hanging out with friends after work and spending money and going to movies and finally having the freedom to do what I wanted to do. So running just took the back burner – I was enjoying life.”
Then, as customarily happens in one’s twenties, Patrick’s friends began to couple up and move on.
“What happened was everybody left. And I was alone and like, this isn’t fun anymore. People were starting families, getting married and I didn’t want to do any of that stuff yet. And so for a while, I was just in limbo. I was like, I don’t know what I want to do. And then I just realized, you know what? Maybe I should just start running again. So that’s what I did.”
In 2014, Stover began entering races, but rather than signing up as “Patrick,” he used his first name.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be as fast as I used to be,” said Stover. “I kind of wanted to start new and start fresh.”
Under the name of “Kenneth Stover,” he entered a race with his dad.
Stover works 40 hours a week at the Four Seasons Resort in Kona, but he began making time for long training sessions on the trails and occasional naps.
“At first it was kind of tough because I didn’t know anybody and I would go to an event and I would run it and then I would just leave and go home.”
Gradually, however, Stover’s easy manner and contagious smile became something of a fixture at local trail races and marathons on the Hawaiian islands.
“I started making friends with the running people,” said Stover about his first year. “I’d meet one person at this race and I’d meet another person at that race and all of a sudden I had this big running ohana. So every weekend, I wanted to do a race because I wanted to hang out with everybody I know. It became fun.”
Stover’s competitive drive came back as well and he began to be known for his speed and toughness as well as his sense of humor.
“The challenge of pushing myself intrigued me again,” he said. “I wanted to test my limits again and just continue to pursue my passion. That’s kind of where I’m at now.”
There’s no doubt that Stover – who placed seventh overall (and was the first finisher from Hawaii) at last weekend’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, is one of the top trail and ultra runners in the region. In January, he’ll race in the HURT 100 miler on Oahu.
The only question that remains is what to call him.
“Well, all my race sign-up accounts are under the name Kenneth, so that’s what you’ll see in the results. But yeah, I’m back to Patrick again.”