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home > community > viewpoint > honolulu marathon a breeze for 26,000 finishers

Honolulu Marathon a Breeze for 26,000 finishers
Well we certainly didn't expect weather like this. Unlike in 1995, when stifling heat and humidity wilted a record field, this year the temperature was 68 degrees at the start, downright frigid by Hawaii standards. Unfortunately, the coolish conditions were accompanied by stiff trade winds, making for rough going on some of the open parts of the course. Nonetheless, times were generally fast for the Honolulu Marathon.

  
Honolulu Marathon a Breeze for 26,000 finishers

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By Don Allison
Posted Tuesday, 10 December, 1996

Well we certainly didn't expect weather like this. Unlike in 1995, when stifling heat and humidity wilted a record field, this year the temperature was 68 degrees at the start, downright frigid by Hawaii standards. Unfortunately, the coolish conditions were accompanied by stiff trade winds, making for rough going on some of the open parts of the course. Nonetheless, times were generally fast for the Honolulu Marathon.

As I mentioned in my last " postcard", my primary function was to coach, support, and coax the Massachusetts Team In Training runners to the finish. The day began at 2:45 a.m., when I awoke to arrange for the some of the runners to get on the buses at Kapiolini Park to the start, about two miles away. Others opted to " sleep in " and walk to the start at 4:00 a.m. Although still stiff, the winds had lessened from Saturday, when savage 50-60 mph gusts tore through the city.

The start was moved from 5:30 to 5:00 a.m. this year, as if it wasn't early enough already. I accompanied the walkers down to the start on my bike, which I would pedal to various spots on the course.. As we approached Ali Moana Park, the crowds swelled into the thousands. Honolulu is typically laid back about the race start. Unlike Boston, New York, or other mega-marathons, seeding is pretty much as you please. Anyone hoping for a fast time needs to be very aware of this fact, and keep a close eye on the start banner.

At 4:45, I left the start area, to avoid being stampeded by thousands of eager runners. Cycling through a deserted downtown Honolulu was a calming experience. Roads were closed to traffic, few spectators were present, and the climate felt quite comfortable, at least to a New Englander. The snow, the traffic, and the hassles of everyday living in Boston seemed light years away. I pedaled steadily up and over Diamond Head Road into residential Hawaii Kai, the 11 mile mark of the race. Just after I arrived, the lead wheelchairs went whizzing by. My roommate John Lyon was not too far behind. They would be finished with the marathon by a little after 6:30 a.m. Just in time for a leisurely breakfast on Waikiki.

I was tuned into the race on a local radio station, thus knew exactly when the lead runners would be turning the corner to mile 11. It was eerie, as not another person was anywhere in sight. Right on schedule, a United Nations pack of 14, all from Africa and Asia, sped by. I examined the form of these marvelous athletes. They appeared to be working pretty hard, but their feather light, picture perfect strides belied that fact. They were clearly running into a head wind on the wide open Kalianianaole Highway. After the elite men passed by, the runners came by few and far between. One notable athlete was Bob Kennedy, the USA's top middle distance runner. In town for Saturday's road mile, he was obviously out for an "easy " morning run at six minute pace. Soon enough a pack of elite women ran by, then the numbers steadily increased, until the road was full across with people moving at an eight to nine minute mile. I saw many of my TNT runners, all looking very fresh and happy.

At the mile 16 turnaround on Kalianianole, the lead pack broke up. Buffeted by a tailwind, several of the top men attempted a breakaway move. Yi-Young Kim, the favorite from Korea, was among that group. Despite back to back miles of 4:40 and 4:43, Kim was unable to shake all of his pursuers. Three time champion Benson Masya made a break, but to no avail. At mile 20, Kenyan Eric Kimayo continued to press the torrid pace. It was sub 4:50 after sub 4:50, how many in a row can you do? Everyone but fellow Kenyan Jimmy Muindi eventually surrendered. Kimayo, sporting a 2:10:47 PR, continued the sub 4:50's right up to the Diamond Head hill at mile 25, which only slowed him to 5:05. Muindi remained within striking distance however. These guys were seriously laying down the lumber.

The final 1.2 miles are downhill on Diamond Head to the straight-away finish at Kapiolini Park. Kimayo hammered that distance in 5:48, and the race was his. He crossed in 2:13:23, only seven seconds off of the course record. Muindi followed in 2:13:37. Like the men's race, the women's race was also an exacta, except for Russia instead of Kenya. Ramila Burangulova and Svetlana Vasilyeva went one two in 2:34:28 and 2:35:36 respectively.

All of this information I was able to receive via my walkman, as I was still stationed at mile 11. Actually I had walked across the street, which was where mile 22 was located. An endless stream of runners passed by. I strained to see my TNT marathoners. Those whom I was able to see all looked pretty good for having run 22 miles. The weather was really helping. Many of the group were first-timers. Honolulu is a good place to run your first, as time pressures are non-existent, the atmosphere is light and upbeat, and there is ALWAYS plenty of company. I saw walkers passing by mile 11 four hours into the race!

Our top TNT finishers were Jaime Boese from Durham, NH in 2:54:46 and my training partner Mike Menovich in 3:12:47. Mike was just two weeks removed from completing the Nifty Fifty Mile in Rhode Island. our top women were Sharon Johnson from Atkinson, NH in 3:32:42 and Mary-Jo Greene from Manchester, NH in 3:33:33. John Lyon wheeled across in 2:28:13.

After cheering for several hours, I made by way back up over Diamond Head, past the finish and back to the hotel. Runners in yellow finishers T-shirts swarmed the city. It was only 11 a.m. by the time I got back to the room. Time enough to regroup and take a relaxing swim in the ocean, then meet up with the runners for a victory celebration and dinner. Our group of 30+ was breaking up and heading off in different directions on Monday. Some were extending their vacations a week, flying to Maui or one of the other islands. Some were staying in Oahu, while others were flying back to snowy Boston. It has been a very successful trip. As for me, I'm here for another two days, before I set off for my next adventure, which is the Sunmart 50 Mile Trail Run in Huntsville, Texas. Look for my report on that event soon. I don't think it's snowing there, either.

 

 

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