Honolulu, HI. — We drove through the Makai Gate at the intersection of Punahou and Wilder Streets onto the Punahou School campus just as classes were letting out for the day. In the warm Hawaiian sunshine kids with backpacks slung over their shoulders walked indolently side-by-side, some toward waiting family cars, many others toward after-school sports practices.
Located perhaps two miles inland from Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu, the Punahou School is a private co-ed primary and prep school celebrated for both its academic and sporting successes. Originally established in 1841 as a school for the children of missionaries serving throughout the Pacific region, these days Punahou is most famous as the alma mater of Barack Obama, America’s 44th president, who graduated (as Barry) in 1979.
Today, Dr. Jim Barahal, president of the Honolulu Marathon Association was bringing former three-time Honolulu Marathon champion Mbarek Hussein and four-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman to the campus to visit Coach Todd Iacovelli’s distance running session, where Jim’ son Sebastian is a mainstay.
“You know me,” said Abdi, “If I can help motivate even one kid, not just in running, but life, that would mean a lot to me.” Continue reading
It is no surprise that the dominance of Kenyan runners over the last twenty years has cut both ways in the sport of distance running. While records have fallen with increasing rapidity, the marketability of the sport — and its champions — has also fallen well behind the standard set by the slower champions of the initial running boom. Now, perhaps belatedly, the fastest runners on the planet have begun to acknowledge that their role must extend beyond that of simple performer and include a dash of salesman, too, in the offering of the sport to the public. Continue reading
With the powerhouse fields lined up for the swift Rotterdam and London Marathons this spring, there is no guarantee that current marathon world record holder Patrick Makau (2:03:38, Berlin 2011) will still hold that designation after April 21st. Yet, amidst the scramble to the top of the marathon food chain, Makau has slowly been coming round to the need to step out of his more reserved natural shell and branch out as a spokesman for his sport. We saw evidence of this recently at The Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon where Makau visited a local school to address the eager young track team. Now, Makau is being featured in a short anti-malaria public service video, encouraging his fellow Kenyans to use netting to combat the mosquitoes which carry the disease.
Though spokesman may not be his default setting, one can see the growth of Makau as more than just a runner and record holder. In this he is following in the footsteps of such brethren as Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie, the two men who held the marathon world record before Makau.
Like many of his fellow top Kenyan racers, Makau supports an every expanding array of personal and tribe-based requests. Now, he is using his well-earned fame to take on issues of greater and more expansive social import. For this he is to be applauded.
Hapalua “Chase” champion Steve Marthy with Makau, Muindi & Manza
Honolulu, Hawaii — 25 year-old Army 1st Lieutenant Stephen Marthy of Fort Shafter can forever say that he beat marathon world record holder Patrick Makau in a half-marathon — never mind that he had a 11-minute head start. The Albany, New York native sprinted past his final two competitors in the final quarter-mile to win The Chase competition at the second annual Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon today in Kapiolani Park.
Lt. Marthy’s gun time of 1:12:46 minus the 11:00 head start he was awarded gave him a net time of 1:01:46, good enough for a four-second win over Christina Wong, and 13 seconds over Kim Kuehnert in the handicap format. His time also brought Marthy home ahead of world-class Kenyan runners Patrick Makau, Nicholas Manza and Jimmy Muindi and earned him a cool $5000 first place prize. Continue reading
Jimmy Muindi, 6X Honolulu Marathon champion
Honolulu, Hawaii — We tend to see the finished product and think it was always this way. But of course, it rarely is. In 2004 Kenya’s Jimmy Muindi saw a young Patrick Makau run a school race in their home area of Machakos, Kenya, and identified a budding talent in raw form. Remembering how he was mentored by three-time Boston Marathon champion Cosmas Ndeti early in his own career, Muindi invited Makau to come train with him in Ngong outside Nairobi after Patrick graduated from high school.
For two years Muindi supported his fellow Kamba tribesman before Makau got his first break, a chance to run a half-marathon in Tarsus, Turkey in 2006. Makau did not waste the opportunity. He not only won that race (62:42), but met his future wife Cathreen, who finished second in the women’s field. Continue reading
Marathon World Record holder Patrick Makau
Honolulu, Hawaii — Marathon world record holder Patrick Makau of Kenya arrived in Honolulu last night in preparation for The Hapalua, Hawaii’s premier Half Marathon. The second edition of The Hapalua will be run this Sunday morning beginning adjacent to world-famous Waikiki Beach. The race, and its Chase format, will be Makau’s final tune up for the April 21st Virgin London Marathon where he will test himself against one of the strongest marathon fields ever assembled, including all three medalists from the 2012 London Olympic Marathon.
While there are some who might question why an athlete of Makau’s stature would travel so far for a tune up when his marathon is just six weeks away, and chance a major disruption to his training, Makua has always run to his own rhythms, and with evident success. Continue reading
Though the indoor winter track season is in full swing on both sides of the pond, the spring marathon majors in Boston and London have already begun to loom on the horizon. Even with the monster storm tracking toward New England and scheduled to dump as much as two feet of snow on the area tomorrow through Saturday, the mud and scuttling clouds of April – conditions well recognized in both Boston and London - still beckon off in the soon-to-be whited out distance.
While training for the marathons continues in deep sequestration at camps across the American west and along East Africa’s Great Rift Valley, we can begin to see the training sweats being stripped off as schedules get set for the tune up races heralding marathon season. Yesterday, the RAK Half-Marathon field was released. Headed by 2010 champion Geoffrey Mutai, the marathon list leader in both 2011 & 2012, the RAK Half has swiftly become the world’s deepest and fastest half marathon. Its list of champions is a true who’s who of this running generation, and features several Virgin London Marathon contenders going head up on February 15th.
World record holder Patrick Makau (photo by PhotoRun.Net)
Yet one man who will not be in the UAE next weekend is the 2008-2009 RAK Half champion and course record holder Patrick Makau of Kenya (58:52), who is also the marathon world record holder. Makau will instead tune up for the London Marathon one month from now thousands of miles away on the island of Oahu at the Hapalua Half Marathon, the second-year sister event of the Honolulu Marathon.
With men like 2011 Boston & New York, and 2012 Berlin champ Geoffrey Mutai, 2011 London winner Emmanuel (not related) Mutai, and 2012 Chicago runner-up Feyisa Lelisa of Ethiopia matching up in the UAE before going double the distance in London April 21st, it may seem an odd selection for Makau to go solo at a low-key race in Hawaii. But according to Makau’s manager Zane Branson, Makau is more than comfortable with his choice. Continue reading