GETTING HOOKED ON PACERS

Now that the NBA playoffs have begun the regular season TV viewing rule, “you only need to pay attention to the final five minutes”, has been eliminated as every possession is contested with pressure defense. Yet due to marathoning’s linear rather than episodic nature, where there is no shot, pitch, play, etc. every 30 seconds, or quarters, periods, innings or halves to break up the action, the sport of long distance racing is a hard sell to an ADHD audience.  This is especially true when very few of the athletes have been marketed as individual stars to the non-running public, and where, by comparison to other sports, the stakes are quite low.

In the face of these circumstances to then control the action via pacesetters only serves to further separate the average viewer from the game, as there is no reason to become engaged until the “real” action begins after the controlled first half.

15London Marathon LogoIn London this weekend we have another of the “greatest fields ever assembled”, both on the men’s and women’s sides, with thoroughbreds striding along the Thames everywhere you look. Yet once again there will be a host of pacesetters ready to take the men through the first half in a rapid, but controlled 61:45. Continue reading

BOSTON MARATHON PRESS DAY

Boston, MA. — Press day at the Boston Marathon as principal sponsor John Hancock Financial Services introduces 2015 elite/pro fields.  Count me among those who is not a fan of the Boston interview setup whereby the entire pro field is presented at individual tables in a one-fell-swoop opportunity.  On paper it might seem like a good arrangement, but when most of the field is East African and speaks softly, it is all but impossible to communicate with them in the din.  Secondly, there is no way to make your way around the entire room in the allotted time, so you end up prioritizing your interviews, and end up missing a whole bunch of folks you dearly want to speak to.

But enough of my bitching as there is lots to discuss as Boston 2015 kicks into high gear. Continue reading

2015 HAPALUA: RACE REPORT

Coming April 12, 2015

Honolulu, HI.  — In the pitiless game of hunter and prey there are no guarantees, only daily survivals. Today, under its unique Chase format, in which 24 top runners from the Hawaiian Islands are given incremental head starts ranging from 20 to 7 minutes on four international chasers, The Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon saw the hunters prevail for the first time in four years.

After running down every Team Hawaii runner by 19K, Kenya’s Peter Kirui outkicked Kenyan born Qatari Nicholas Kemboi in the final few meters in Kapiolani Park, 64:08 to 64:09, to take the $5000 first prize.  1:05 later Honolulu triathlete Ben Williams arrived just one second ahead of Kenyan Emily Chebet, while 18 year-old Kalaheo High School senior Makai Clemons finished 54 seconds later in fifth place.

Group E at Waikiki Beach start with 18 minute head start

Group E at Waikiki Beach start with 18 minute head start

Williams and Makai were two of five local men given a seven minute lead on Kirui and Kemboi, while two-time IAAF World Cross Country champion Emily Chebet of Kenya began with a six minute advantage on a warm, muggy morning (if you asked the internationalists) or a nice and cool day (when the locals were surveyed).

Having finished third last year in the Chase after beginning very conservatively with former marathon world record holder Patrick Makau, Kirui began the day alongside iconic Waikiki Beach with a one minute faster 5K split than last year (15:02 vs 16:08).

Peter Kirui (#2) and Nicholas Kemboi along Ala Moana Blvd.

Peter Kirui (#2) and Nicholas Kemboi along Ala Moana Blvd.

“I was expecting to run 62,” said the champion afterwards, “and I tried to push at 10K (30:07), but the conditions were very warm, and I slowed down to wait for Nicholas because it is very hard to run alone from that far out.”

Kirui opens a lead in mile 7

Kirui opens a lead in mile 7 as Kemboi suffers with a blister

Kemboi, the fourth fastest 10,000 meter runner in history at 26:30, developed a painful blister at 5K, and had to slow, allowing Kirui to open a 10 second margin.  But when his toe went numb and Kirui backed off the throttle, Nicholas regained contact on the return through Waikiki Beach.  From there the two internationalists began to pick off Team Hawaii runners one by one beginning in mile 7. Continue reading

THE HAPALUA: BRANDING A NEW EVENT

Coming April 12, 2015

Coming April 12, 2015

Honolulu, HI. — The Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon is quite a mouthful for a race name, especially when you consider it was born out of the long-standing and short-named Honolulu Marathon.  But with over 6100 entrants signed up for Sunday’s fourth annual Hapalua, the event, and its name, seems to have stuck.

“From a creation point of view, we did something different,” said Honolulu Marathon Association president Jim Barahal.  “We created a half-marathon from scratch, and branded it with its own name standing alone from the Honolulu Marathon.”

Not that that was the original idea.  At first, Barahal considered a linked name that he thought lent itself to a logo with its own cache.  Thus, the Honolulu Marathon Half Marathon would be branded as HM Squared.

“That was an interesting brand,” thought Barahal, who has been president of the Honolulu Marathon Association since 1987.  But when he got a little deeper into the project, Barahal Googled the Hawaiian word for half, and it turned out it was Hapalua.  That’s when he said, ‘that’s an even nicer name’.

Honolulu Marathon Association president Jim Barahal

Honolulu Marathon Association president Jim Barahal

On top of which, no one had ever used the word Hapalua in any context before, because in Hawaii the word people use for half is Hapa, which is the diminutive of Hapalua.

“I don’t think anyone knew there was a longer word,” laughed Barahal. “It took me about two minutes on the phone with an attorney to trademark that name, and we decided not just piggyback on our marathon.” Continue reading

SWEET TREATS AT 2015 HAPALUA

Coming April 12, 2015

Coming April 12, 2015

Honolulu, Hi.  — 36 hours from Nairobi, but for Peter Kirui, Nicholas Kemboi and Emily Chebet, the three Kenyan born Chasers in Sunday’s 4th Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon, the time in travel was well worth the while. And not just for financial reasons.

“This is as far from Kenya as you can get,” explained their manager Zane Branson.  “There is something about being so far away in a totally different world.  You get a different perspective on everything.”

Well, perhaps the whole world feels that way about the Aloha State.   Continue reading