Kamika Smith is a tough man to catch up with. He always seems to be on the go — whether he’s managing the day-to-day operations of Smith’s Fern Grotto or training for, and running, marathons. As general manager of the Kauai attraction that was founded by his grandparents in 1947, Smith has seen the business flourish to a fleet of 12 open-air river boats, a 30-acre botanical and cultural garden and a colorful luau.
Going the distance is second nature to Smith. Marathon running isn’t much of a stretch since it’s all about endurance and longevity — much the same route that his family business has followed. Smith started running while attending Seattle University in the 1980s.
"I found out about the first-ever Emerald City Marathon and decided to enter," he said.
Not satisfied with running merely a few events each year, Smith set a much loftier goal of finishing a marathon in each of the 50 states before his 50th birthday. Already ahead of schedule in 2000, he’s now on track to double that milestone.
"I actually finished all 50 in five years, doing back-to-back marathons since it’s so expensive to go to the mainland so many times," he said.
Smith sees Hawaii as a great place to compete in a marathon because the weather is good year-round. He’s a 10-time finisher of the Honolulu Marathon and, he has completed the Maui Marathon. He’s a big fan of the Hilo Marathon, also known as the Big Island International Marathon. While he hasn’t run the Kona Marathon, Smith noted that the course covers part of the route included in the grueling Ironman Triathlon held along the Kona Coast each October. And naturally, he’s partial to Kauai, which is hosting its first full annual marathon on Sept. 6.
"I’m excited that there will be a marathon on Kauai this year," he said. "Running is a great way to get fit and stay in shape for people like me who love to eat!"