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.
Now in its fourth year, The Hapalua is the sister race of the Honolulu Marathon. Still in its growth phase, The Hapalua (Hawaiian for Half) has grown by a surging 40% this year to more than 6000 entrants, including 1,200 from Japan and an additional 1,000 from the mainland and other countries. But similar to the trend around the sport, 56% of all entrants are female.
To further differentiate themselves from other events, The Hapalua has engineered a unique Chase format where top local runners forming Team Hawaii receive a head start based on recent performances, and then will be ‘chased’ to the finish by Peter Kirui (Kenya), Nicholas Kemboi (Qatar), Taku Harada (Japan) and Emily Chebet (Kenya). First across the line, male or female, local or international, picks up $5,000 out of the total $11,000 prize purse. The invited professionals will start as much as 20 minutes behind the first local group.
Last year, 33 year-old Eri MacDonald, daughter of 1976 Olympian and three-time Honolulu Marathon champion Duncan MacDonald came away with the win. Peter Kirui caught all but two Team Hawaii runners in a mad final two kilometer dash down Diamond Head to finish third, posting a gun time of 65:45.
Courtney O. of Honolulu wrote this review on Yelp after last year’s Hapalua.
“Hawaii’s Half Marathon, from the people who bring you the Honolulu Marathon! This very well organized event and beautiful course is a must do for any runner. There is no time limit so you can run fast or slow!
The course starts in beautiful Waikiki in complete darkness at 6:00 am. You run to China Town, turn around, and then back to Waikiki before heading around breathtaking Diamond Head and ending at Kapiolani Park. The course itself was nice. Mostly flat, with one tough hill around mile 9 but after the beast known as Monsarrat, it was all downhill! The course was wide and I didn’t have to weave in and out of people like other races on Oahu so I was thankful for that.
Malasadas, other yummy goodies, and a medal modeled after a Hawaiian coin were handed out at the finish line.
I am now making this a yearly ritual because I loved it so much. Thank you to everybody who helped put this race together and all the volunteers that helped out. I can’t wait to be a part of this race year after year!”
Full profiles of the pros and Team Hawaii over the next few days.