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.
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).
“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.”
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. (more…)