Categorized | Multi-sport, Sports

Hoomana brings his art to Ironman


Remember the distinctive design of the Noio – the Hawaiian tern that graced the 2009 Ironman World Championship Athlete Guide and promotional materials? The powerful banded design that accompanied last year’s theme?

Those images were the inspiration of Kailua-Kona artist and triathlete Alika Hoomana.

Hoomana, 29, has lived on the Big Island most of his life. He says he remembers as a teen watching triathletes compete during the run portion of the Ironman World Championship, making their way through the heat and humidity at the turn-around in the Energy Lab.

He remembers thinking that the racers’ determination and athleticism was “awesome.” But he says he didn’t have a concept then of what really went into being a participant of the race.

Looking forward to his second Rohto Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in a week’s time, Hoomana has gained a much clearer idea in the last two years of what it means to be an Ironman.

Hoomana has always been interested in triathlon. He says he remembers years ago seeing a photograph of his friend and mentor, Che Pilago, participating in the Ironman World Championship in 1997. The picture made an impression, but the time wasn’t yet ripe.

Hoomana is also a talented artist. He says he has been an artist all his life. In 2008, Hoomana was asked to provide illustrations for materials being developed for the Ironman World Championship.

In 2009, he was asked to design the artwork for the race theme, “He Au Hou i ka Eheu o ka Noio – A New Era on the Wings of a Noio.” Hoomana says that he used designs he was familiar with and fit them into the race theme in order to create the image of the Noio, an important bird to Native Hawaiian sailors because it was a harbinger of land nearby, representing new beginnings.

Last year, Hoomana again provided his artwork for the theme, “Ke Alahele O Ke Koa – The Way of the Warrior.” He says of the 2010 design that it represented a more traditional Hawaiian style of artwork.

He called upon images that represent the importance of “never quitting” and “doing our best,” not only for warriors, but regarding any craft we do or responsibility we take on.

Hoomana uses Hawaiian designs, but his artwork is meant to transcend the story of any one culture. Instead, it stands for universal themes important for success no matter what our cultural background. It is also a reminder to “never forget where you come from, and how you got to where you are.”

Hoomana has already created more artwork to accompany the theme of the 2011 Ironman World Championship. His illustrations weave a thread of similar images through each year’s design. He uses “bits and pieces from the year before” to “keep the same link from one year to the next,” even though each year also stands on its own and creates something new.

Several months before the 2010 Honu, Hoomana accepted a challenge from a friend to lose some weight. Hoomana went from 236 to 170 pounds within three months. He used exercise, including running, to help him make that change, and wanted to continue to exercise after losing the weight.

Hoomana says he likes to take on challenges, and the 2010 Honu sounded like the type of challenge that would keep him on track to maintain his new weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

Friends such as local triathlete Jason Gabriel, and Kona’s own professional triathlete, Bree Wee, helped the budding triathlete with his training plan and training sessions, and gave him advice on how to approach the race. Hoomana began participating in local multisport races to prepare himself for the 70.3, and has joined Kailua-Kona’s masters swimming group.

Of Hoomana’s first 70.3 experience, he says, “It was pretty crazy. I was intimidated a little bit on the swim. I waited two or three minutes to let people start.” But once he was in the water, everything went fine. “I did a decent time for me.”

On the bike, he focused on staying close to another cyclist who he thought would challenge him to do his best. “The run was tough,” he says.

In the middle of his half- marathon, he suffered from muscle cramping. By mile nine, the cramps let up and Hoomana cruised to the finish line in 6:42:47.

His goals for this year’s Honu are, first, “just to finish,” and second, to improve his time if he can. He says that this past year has been a year of firsts – the first time he did each of the races he entered.

Now, as he enters his second year of triathlon, he will see if he can beat his times. More important to Hoomana is the change in lifestyle that triathlon has meant, not only for him, but for his wife and son as well.

He says triathlon has resulted in “switching gears for my whole family. It’s healthier living. We’re eating a little healthier now, and being more active.”

Hoomana appreciates the support he’s received from his wife, Uilani. And he says his son, three-year old Pohakulea is a budding triathlete himself. Pohakulea is participating in local swimming and running races, accompanied by his parents, and he likes to go for a ride on his Dad’s aerobars.

Hoomana also works as a manager for Stealth Audio, in Kailua-Kona. He says he’s been working there for the past 11 years. Stealth Audio has been supportive of his triathlon training, providing him some flexibility in his hours when he’s got a heavy training load, and sponsoring him for some of his events.

Hoomana says that taking care of family and work responsibilities has meant he has not put in quite as many training hours in preparation for his second Honu.

But he knows that, with the support of his family and friends, he is up for the challenge.

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