The bond created over shared miles is something unique to distance training. Bree Wee and Skye Ombac are both teachers in Kona, Hawaii, but also lovers of running. Bree, a former professional athlete, is currently training Skye to take over the world of triathlons. “Skye is the next triathlon queen of KONA and just knowing her heart I’m never going to hand it to her. I’m going to make her work for it. I want her to just become her best.” Learn more about this awesome duo, their journey with running, and advice they have for the next generation.
HOKA: Tell us a bit about yourselves!
Bree: Aloha!! Bree Wee, Kainoa’s mom, 4th grade kumu at the beloved little school by the sea (Kahakai Elementary in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii), and trail runner. But not always a trail runner, once upon a time professional triathlete…
Skye: Aloha, my name is Skye Ombac! I am 25 years old from Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. I grew up close to my family in the small town of Panaewa, dreaming big. I went to an even smaller town for college, Jamestown, North Dakota. While I was away at college I pursued my dream of becoming an elementary teacher.
In 2018 I graduated with my degree and returned back to the Big Island to begin my teaching career. I am now living in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island and in my 4th year of teaching, teaching 5th grade at Kahakai Elementary. Along with running, teaching is one of my passions! I am loving every second of my adventurous life!
HOKA: How long have you been running and what is your motivation?
Bree: In 2003 my roommate encouraged me to run a marathon, it was everything from horrible to incredible. I couldn’t make the 2 mile loop from home to the beach without stopping, I got injured & got back up again like every new runner-repeat, I met amazing people who still today are friends like family, and then I saw an Ironman running through our backyard. Ironman became my motivation to run, I wanted to do an Ironman. 4 years later I competed in my first Ironman, the rest is history… 8 years competing as Hawaii’s professional triathlete. In many, many ways a dream come true all because I dared to train for a marathon.
Skye: I began running when I was in intermediate school, going to practice just a couple of times a week. I continued running throughout high school and into college. I decided to take a break from running in college. After four years of not running I figured it was time to start running again and try to fall in love with what I had loved in the past. In 2019 I moved to Kona and found an amazing group of runners. The amazing running community reminded me why I loved running and what the sport is all about. The people keep me motivated to be the best version of myself and to strive for new goals. Thank you, Kona for bringing the joy in running back to me!
HOKA: How did you two meet?
Bree: Skye is the daughter of the famous race announcer “Eddie O.” Everyone who races in Hawaii knows Eddie and if you know Eddie you at least know of his twin daughters, Skye and Katrina. Skye is 16 years younger than me and was making a name for herself as a runner over on Hilo side. It wasn’t until Eddie O called me up asking a favor, his daughter was graduating from college and wanted to teach on the Kona side. As luck would have it, she made the move to Kona, began teaching 5th grade at Kahakai, and our Saturday trail running group welcomed her to our little crew. Well, I am not sure Skye would think of it as very welcoming, haha! We took her out on some of the most difficult trails we have and used her least teacher friendly vocabulary!! But she handled, it was then our group truly became like a little family, she became everyone’s kid sister or daughter…
Skye: I had always known the name, “Bree Wee” growing up. My parents would drive me over to Kona from Hilo to watch Ironman growing up, so it was hard not to remember the name. Bree was a top athlete from Kona and we always cheered for her. Fast Forward to 2019 when I wanted to move to Kona… I asked my dad if he knew any teachers at Kahakai Elementary and he knew Bree! He got us in contact and Bree was the one who put in a good word for me with our principal at the time. Thanks, Bree! I got a job at the school and officially met Bree in person. We would see each other around school and then we started seeing each other at local races and then at Run Club! Eventually Bree invited me to run with her and her crew! I was very intimidated but I knew I couldn’t decline the invite, so I went! And the rest is history, we have been running together ever since and have been on countless adventures together!
HOKA: What is the best part about training together?
Bree: The best part about training with Skye is definitely having accountability and someone who loves adventure. She always shows up with a positive attitude, brings her competitive fire, and is easily convinced crazy things like running 42 miles around the base of Mauna Kea is a good idea! We get a chance to talk school out there, too. It’s nice being able to have someone understand how crazy it is teaching during days like these, keeping each other fighting for our students and to make the best out of everything.
Skye: The best part about training together is all the memories we have made! Bree has made me a better person, to look at the glass full, and to push myself like never before. No matter how I am feeling, Bree can put a smile on my face and make me appreciate life! And at the same time, she is always there when I need a shoulder to cry on. To be able to have a trustworthy friend that I am able to train with is priceless. Bree is way faster than me, so she could leave me whenever she wants…. But she doesn’t! There have been so many swims, bikes, and runs that she has talked me through and pushed me to go faster, try harder, and be better. I have reached goals I never thought possible because we train together. I love that training doesn’t feel like a chore, it is something I look forward to and enjoy because of Bree.
If you ever see us training, we are most likely laughing and making fools of ourselves! Someone told me when I got into Ironman that my social life would be over since I’d only be training, sleeping, teaching, and eating… But my training is my social life! Training is like a big hangout session! Our training has been a magical journey so far and I can’t wait to see what comes next!
HOKA: What does leading with courage mean to you?
Bree: I’ve never really thought of myself as a leader or way maker for Skye or any of the upcoming girls out here. While I’ll forever appreciate the opportunity I held to race professionally I tried really hard not to let it define me. I just want the next generation to see that when given an opportunity it is fully up to us to take it as far as we want. The opportunity doesn’t mean it will be easy or that things will just fall into place. You have to keep showing, especially on days that it looks hopeless.
Skye: Leading with courage to me means to move forward with your best possible effort. Whatever you want to do, do it with passion and give it all you got! Running takes a lot of courage, you have to be brave enough to put yourself outside of your comfort zone to go farther and get faster. Some days it is going to suck, and that’s okay… Just don’t give up! I hope others see that Bree and I, no matter what, we don’t give up. We continue to push ourselves and make goals to keep moving forward.
HOKA: What advice do you have for those interested in getting into ultras?
Bree: Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Ultra running is such a great way to see trails, paths, and places that many times you can only get to by foot. Running far is such a special way to learn more about your surroundings and self. I have fallen in love with our island more than ever by getting to run places that history speaks of. And when you have people to share the trails with, even better! Ultra running doesn’t take much more than a pair of good shoes and a positive attitude.
Skye: My advice is to just keep going! It’s going to be difficult in the beginning but you can’t give up before you see any progress. It is going to be a long journey and it will be what you make of it. I also suggest finding a great group of people to train with. I would have never gotten into triathlons or ultra running if it weren’t for the run group I am a part of. They have made the journey so much fun and I sit here and smile thinking about all of the wild things we have done together. Last year for spring break we all decided to run 42 miles, how awesome is that?! Before I would have said what we do is not awesome and not fun but we make it fun! It is a chance for us to hangout, catch up, and enjoy the outdoors together. Make the best of it and find a great group of people! If you are on the Big Island and would like to go for a swim, bike, or run… Let’s connect!
Bree and Skye are seen wearing the new Bondi X.