Hula Grill out to defend title of "race within a race"
The Hula Grill Kaanapali restaurant is known for its fresh fish and seafood, spectacular views of the beach, and … fast runners.
The proof is in the trophy that sits atop the restaurant's bar, declaring Hula Grill as the winner of the 2012 T S Restaurants Challenge at the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs. Hula Grill beat out three other T S Restaurants on Maui (Duke's Beach House, KImo's, Leilani's On The Beach) to claim the perpetual trophy.
Hula Grill will be back to defend its title at the 2013 XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs, which is scheduled for October 26 on the grounds surrounding the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. More than 30 employees from the restaurant have been training in recent months for the event.
"Our General Manager, Orrin Cross, is a strong supporter of health and wellness," explained Hula Grill team captain Lisa Olmos. "He agreed to sponsor any runner from Team Hula who met with me on our weekly runs. We meet every Wednesday and run the trail (at Kapalua). All those who have been running on Wednesdays get their race fees paid by Hula Grill."
Olmos is a triathlete who has a bachelor's degree in Nutrition Science, and she was more than willing to lead the Hula Grill training sessions. "I'm an avid runner and racer so when I decided to register for the XTERRA World Championships last year, Orrin asked if I would build an XTERRA running team for the restaurant," she explained. "It was my pleasure! One of the greatest things is to share your passions with others."
The weekly training runs and anticipation of the race have created a healthy buzz - and lifestyle - within the restaurant.
"Win or lose, we are sending a positive message out to the community and within our house," Olmos said. "What started out as a fun competition really sparked the interest of creating a health and wellness program within the restaurant. Giving our employees healthy employee meal options and sponsoring races is just the beginning."
The other T S Restaurants on Maui have similar programs for their employees, and the T S Restaurants Challenge is apparently catching on. More than 120 employees from the four restaurants are registered to run in the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs on October 26. Kimo's leads the way with more than 40 employees signed up to run.
The T S Restaurants Challenge is actually "a race within a race," as more than 1,000 runners from around the world are expected to participate in the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs. The event features two courses - a 10K and a 5K - and both are open to runners of all ages and abilities.
Register at the XTERRA Village in The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, 9am-2pm on Oct 23 & 24 and 9am-5pm on Oct 25.
T S Restaurants has added even more entries to the list this year by encouraging teachers from Maui schools to participate in the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs. More than 50 teachers from Princess Nahienaina Elementary, King Kamehameha III Elementary, Lahainaluna Intermediate and Lahainalua High are registered to run.