Honolulu, HI – Hapalua is the Hawaiian word for half, but today’s 7th Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon, was a full measure by anyone’s standards. Under unusually high humidity, defending champion Philip Tarbei of Kenya was able to overcome both the muggy conditions and the head starts afforded all 24 Team Hawaii runners to become the first person to win a second Hapalua title. His 64:14 winning time was 47-seconds slower than last year’s course record, and the outcome of the unique Chase format pitting Hawaii’s best against the Kenyan pros was not decided until the finish line banner came into view in Kapiolani Park.
Eventual champion Philip Tarbei closes in on Team Hawaii’s Patrick Stover in Kapiolani Park within sight of the finish.
“I was not sure I could win because of the high humidity,” said the 25 year-old Tarbei from Iten, Kenya, “I’ve never run in anything like this before.”
Though rain threatened throughout the morning, it never actually came. But in its stead, a heavy overlay of humidity clung to Oahu like a clammy shrink wrap, making racing conditions challenging for all 7000-plus starters.
After the 24 Team Hawaii runners took off from the pre-dawn Waikiki Beach start line on Kalakaua Avenue with leads of 24 to 8 minutes, Tarbei, his pacer Daniel Chebii and Kuaui native Pierce Murphy lit out giving Chase. Continue reading
Hapalua chaser Pierce Murphy
Honolulu, HI – Tomorrow, the 7th Hapalua Half Marathon once again pits 24 of the top island runners against two invited world class Kenyans in a unique Chase format. But this year, the Kenyans will have local company for the first time. For how long will be the question.
24-year-old Pierce Murphy is hands-down the best runner to come off the Hawaiian islands since 1976 Olympian and three-time Honolulu Marathon champion Duncan McDonald. An eight-time All American at the University of Colorado, Kauai native Murphy has track PRs of 13:37 for 5000m and 28:48 over the 10,000. But he has only tried on the half-marathon distance one time before, that at the 2016 Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll Half where he finished 2nd in a modest 67:47. He hopes to reduce that time tomorrow, even in the muggy conditions brought on by what locals call Kona conditions that have prevailed on Oahu all week.
“I like the longer stuff,” says Murphy. “The longer it is the harder it is, yes, but the easier it is in racing – if that makes any sense. You can cruise a 5K, but to do it 10 K, you have to train for the 10K. Hopefully, I can run in the 65s tomorrow, and if I feel good, maybe a little faster.”
Odds are he will have to post that time running a lot on his own. Last year splits of 14:40 and 28:48 for 5k and 10k led winner Philip Tarbei to a course record 63:27 in the Hapalua. But Pierce is used to running on his own. These days he does all his training alone, a habit he got into during his high school days on Kauai where he won numerous state crowns.
“I do about 80 miles a week consistently, and just tempo work on the roads, no track.” Continue reading