Honolulu, Hi. — Monday dawned sunny and bright the day after the 2014 Honolulu Marathon. Such is the game of chance in the marathon world. For yesterday’s 42nd Honolulu Marathon a deep roll of clouds lingered over Oahu, bringing spells of lashing trade winds and screeds of warm rain in the pre-dawn darkness along the mid-section of the out-and-back course.
Yet the conditions didn’t chill the Aloha spirit offered or received by the thousands who embraced the warm but wild conditions — though fully 4000 of the 30,000 entrants who picked up their bib numbers at the Honolulu Convention Center failed to arrive at the Ala Moana Blvd. start line at 5 a.m. That number, however, is more a reflection of the spirit of the Honolulu Marathon as a destination event more so than, say, a Boston qualifier. Yet, the thousands who took up the challenge remained stalwart. The final finishers didn’t arrive at the Kapiolani Park finish line until nearly 15 hours into the race.
Josh Manning with dad Paul
Josh Manning with reminders at the readyJosh would come home in 3:20, off the sub-3:00 he set as a goal time, but top notch considering the challenging conditions.
Among those who did make the trek was Josh Manning, 17, of Gold Coast, Australia. Here with his ex-Ironman finishing dad Paul, Josh was making his marathon debut in Honolulu, and had reminders to keep his form in mind and timing checks for his gel consumption.
Honolulu Marathon start. Like no other. (picture Jeff & Mandy Perrin-Ketcham via Honolulu Marathon)
For the second straight year Japan’s Saeki Makino made an early break. Training partner of Japan’s famed “citizen runner” Yuki Kawauchi, Makoni’s modest PR of 2:21:42 and his recent marathon effort back home on November 23rd didn’t translate into a potential Honolulu win. But off he went once again, undeterred, pumping out an opening 4:54 mile and 10:06 at two. Last year the trailing East Africans didn’t realize he was out front under the cover of darkness, and they let him build a 1:45 lead by 10K and a 3:00 advantage at the half. But this time former three-time Honolulu champion Mbarek Hussein was running the first 15K, and let his compatriots know about Makoni-san. In 2014 he still had a 35-second lead at 10k (31:21), but it was a manageable margin for his pursuers. (Sorry for picture quality)
The winds and rain were at their fiercest from miles 11 through 15 out Kalaneaneole Highway to the turnaround in Hawaii Kai, and then once again back down the highway from 17 – 21.
Along the outbound stretch the seven man lead pack, fronted by pacer Joel Kimurer, looked like ring wraiths as they began chewing into Makoni’s lead. They passed halfway in 1:08:40, and soon gobbled up the brave Japanese runner between 14 and 15 miles. Makoni would suffer home in 2:40 in 23rd place. That’s 1:08 — 1:32 the hard way!
The action in Honolulu, as per usual, came as the course exited the highway and entered the plush Kahala neighborhood after 35Km. There #6 Paul Lonyangatta of Kenya, a 2:07:44 man with two sub-60 half-marathons to his credit, surged hard to break up the pack. Only countryman Wilson Chebet # 3, the three-time Amsterdam Marathon champion with a 2:05:27 PR, and Ethiopia’s # 7 Geb Abraha, fourth here last year and a PR of 2:06:23 from Amsterdam 2012, could answer the call.
Like colorful blossoms of speed Lonyangata and Chebet matched strides as they drove away from Abraha by 23 miles. Miles 21 – 23 fell in 9:59. Synchronized running!
Deep in the well, Chebet (#3) and Lonyangata (#6) battle for the win and the $40,000 first place prize. 24th upgrade mile toward Diamond Head evaporated in 4:44!
Finally, with thousands of runners still outbound on the downhill slope of Diamond Head at 8 miles, Wilson Chebet breaks free from Paul Lonyagata approaching 40Km on the uphill side to secure his winning margin.
Wilson Chebet crosses the finish line in Kapiolani Park as the 2014 Honolulu Marathon champion at 2:15:35, running negative splits 68:40 – 66:45. Paul Lonyangata took 2nd in 2:16:04; while Ethiopia’s Geb Abraha finished 3rd in 2:16:27.
Champion Chebet strikes a victory pose as fifth-place finisher and pre-race co-favorite Yemane Adhane of Ethiopia suffers in the background (2:17:54).
Kenya’s Joyce Chepkirui, the Commonwealth Games and African Games 10,000m champion, adds the 2014 Honolulu Marathon title to her resume. In only the second completed marathon of her career, the 2012 Kenyan 10,000m Olympian took the lead for good at 15K and never was challenged. Forever more she will be known as Kenya’s first female Honolulu champion, even as their men have nabbed 18 of the last 19 Hono wins.
The women’s podium placers: Lisa Nemec, Croatia in 2nd (2:31:35); champ Joyce Chepkirui, Kenya (2:30:23 PR); Isabella Ochichi, Kenya in 3rd, 2:32:22.
The two Honolulu Marathon champions presented for your approval at the awards ceremony.
Another glorious week in paradise comes to an end. Aloha, from the 2014 Honolulu Marathon. Next up on the islands, the 3rd Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon, coming April 12, 2015!