Category: At the Races

NEAR RECORD RUN IN HONOLULU 2018

Honolulu, Hi. – New land is constantly bubbling up along the Hawaiian islands from the deep molten innards of the planet. Perhaps to reflect that eruptive nature of its home, the Honolulu Marathon has long been a birthing ground of new major marathon champions.  Dating back to the mid-1980s names like Ibrahim Hussein, Cosmas Ndeti, Bong-ju Lee, Brigid Kosgei and Lawrence Cherono have all announced themselves on this time-tested course. 

Today, a new name emerged from the caldron of Honolulu with major marathon potential. 

With two-time champions and course record holders Lawrence Cherono and Brigid Kosgei choosing not to defend, and high trade winds expected out along the course, the fast times of 2016 and 2017 were not expected by race organizers for the 46th running of the Honolulu Marathon.  And on the women’s side of the race, they were right.  Vivian Kiplagat took 2:36:22  to tour the 26.2 miles, 14 minutes longer than Brigid Kosgei ‘s course record.

Titus Ekiru announces his arrival

But 26 year-old Titus Ekiru, like so many Kenyan runners before him, was more focused on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t. As such, the tall, angular man from Turkana, Kenya challenged Lawrence Cherono’s 2:08:27 course record deep into 26.2 mile course before posting the second fastest time in race history (2:09:01). And when you consider that Cherono’s 2:08 in Honolulu 2017 turned into a 2:04 in Amsterdam 2018, what can we expect from Ekiru in 2019 and beyond? (more…)

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2018 HONOLULU MARATHON PREVIEW

Honolulu, HI. – In both 2016 & 2017, the Honolulu Marathon produced the fastest men’s marathon times in the United States.  Perhaps some of that anomaly can be traced to the Chicago Marathon dropping pacesetters for three years. But in the last two years Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono (2:09:38 & 2:08:27) slashed almost three minutes off Jimmy Muindi’s 2004 Honolulu course record of 2:11:12, a record that itself stood for 18 years after Ibrahim Hussein brought Kenyan-style racing to  Oahu in the mid 1980s. 

This year both Cherono and two-time women’s champion Brigid Kosgei have not returned to defend their titles, leaving the 2018 Honolulu Marathon wide open in both genders. (more…)

INTERVIEW – DR. JIM BARAHAL, PRES. HONOLULU MARATHON ASSOCIATION

Honolulu, Hi – Now in his 32nd year as the president of the Honolulu Marathon Association, Dr. Jim Barahal is the longest serving CEO among the world’s top marathons. During his tenure Honolulu has grown from 10,000 entrants into the fourth largest marathon in the United States.

This week over 34,000 runners and walkers will take to the streets of Honolulu in three separate events, the Kalakaua Merrie Mile on Saturday, then the Start to Park 10K and the 46th Honolulu Marathon on Sunday morning. We sat down with Jim at the marathon expo at the Hawaii Convention Center yesterday to talk marathon business and sport.

Honolulu Marathon Association president Jim Barahal

JB: The challenge for us as the fourth largest marathon in the United States is we have the smallest metropolitan area of all the big marathons. New York, Chicago, Boston, we will never be as big as the very biggest races, and Los Angeles and Houston and Marine Corps in Washington DC also have much bigger markets to draw from than Honolulu. So for a long time our second market has been Japan. But there have been changes in that market in recent years with the rise of new citizen marathons, and that’s created big competition for us.

In the past, all the Japanese marathons were elite only. So the opportunity for average runners in Japan came here in Honolulu. But now with other opportunities back home, we’ve had to make somewhat of an adjustment.  How do we not only survive but thrive? What happen for us is we had to find growth beyond the marathon without cannibalizing the marathon.

All marathons now have other events on race weekend. But if you have a half marathon you find that it begins to overshadow the full marathon. So we asked several years ago do we want a half marathon? And we decided to begin a new, not companion half marathon which we call the Hapalua which is in April. It’s now in its eighth year and it’s been very successful. We have over 10,000 runners at the Hapalua and it’s become another destiination event for Japanese runners.  About 2500 of our Hapalua runners come from Japan. But that didn’t address the first week of December.

The trend in running has been away from fast running toward participation. To stay competitive, you have to attract novice runners looking for an experience. 

We realized two years ago, serendipitously, that on our course the first 10K basically ends at the marathon finish line in Kapiolani Park. That meant we could put on a 10K within the marathon and everyone could begin together, because the 10K is non-competitive. So it becomes an event with in the event. (more…)

KIPCHOGE HONORED IN MONACO

Honolulu, HI. – It has been quite the last two years for the exceptional Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. After an unofficial but stunning 2:00:25 sub-2 hour marathon record attempt in Italy last year, Kipchoge dashed to a fully legal 2:01:39 world record in Berlin this September, breaking Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 mark by 1:18. The time represented the widest margin that record had been broken since 1967 when Australia’s Derek Clayton lowered the record from 2:12:00 to 2:09:36 in Fukuoka, Japan. And Kipchoge’s run in Berlin followed a clear victory at this April’s London Marathon against one of the strongest field’s ever assembled in the event’s rich history. 

Yesterday in Monaco, the 34-year-old Kipchoge was named 2018 IAAF Male Athlete of the Year for his efforts, joining Columbia’s triple jumper Caterine Ibargüen who was named Female AOY.

2018 marks the first time since the award began in 1988 that a marathon runner earned the prestigious AOY award on the men’s side (Paula Radcliffe of England took AOY honors in 2002 for women). 

Never Done Better , Kipchoge in Berlin 2018

Not only did Kipchoge’s record in Berlin break the old mark by a wide margin, it was also the second year in a row that Kipchoge topped the world list as fastest marathoner of the year.  (more…)

BERLIN 2018 – YOWZA, YOWZA, YOWZA!

When Patrick Makau set his 2:03:38 world record in Berlin in 2012, he made a surge between 25 and 30K while zigzagging across the road to shake Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie from his tail. Then, after passing through the Brandenburg Gate on his way to victory, he had to hop over a roadside barrier to get on the correct side of the road for the men’s finish line tape break.

Because of those two elements, a tactical surge in the middle of the race,  and a little hop over a road sign at the end of the race, you knew there was another 30 seconds or so left in the world record after he crossed in 2:03:38. (And Godspeed to Mr  Makau who announced his retirement this past week).

But there is always a question after a world record marathon, what was left that didn’t go exactly right that might mean the world record has more time left in it?

Never Done Better

Today, the great Eliud Kipchoge broke Dennis Kimetto ‘s 2014 Berlin course and world record by 1:18 with a 2:01:39 finish time. Yowza, yowza, yowza!  But what didn’t go right? How much more can be squeezed out of that course? (more…)

2018 FALMOUTH PHOTO ESSAY

Little late, I know, but here’s a look back from the lead men’s press truck at last Sunday’s 46th New Balance Falmouth Road Race.

 

The calm before the storm in Woods Hole
A gray summer’s day for those heading to Martha’s Vineyard. 64F at the start.
Thus it begins
Great Britain’s Chris Thompson leads the way coming off 11th in the 10,000 & 9th in the 5000 at the European Championships in Berlin.
Chris Thompson, leads 2x Falmouth runner up Leonard Korir, Northern Arizona Elite’s Scott Fauble and US Army WCAP’s Haron Lagat in a strong early push.
Scotland’s Callum Hawkins (white over red) shows early interest, coming off 7th place at the TD Beach to Beacon 10k two weeks ago in Maine. Took 9th at the 2016 Olympic Marathon, 4th last year at the World Champs in London.
No damage to the pack after a 4:34 opening mile. But 4x defender Stephen Sambu in black enters the picture.
Sambu is the only 4x men’s winner in Falmouth history, and came in off a second place finish at the TD B2B 10k two weeks before. WCAP’s Haron Lagat in white and ZAP Fitness man Andrew Colley in blue on the left both have shown good form this summer.
Cheering fans help the runners through the first three miles of rolling hills.
As the course rolls down out of the tree cover, Sambu presses, passing three miles in 13:58 (4:40 3rd mile, off a 4:44 2nd). University of Michigan star Ben Flanagan falls in with WCAP’s Korir and Lagat, Colley and Fauble.
12 strong hit the flats as the boys roam the coast along Vineyard Sound. Callum Hawkins leaking off the back. Chris Thompson and GBR’s Ross Millington (yellow #9) still holding.
Four miles fall in 18:36 (4:37) as a steady headwind negates the clement 66F temperature. 10 still remain.
A well defined lead pack now separates, led by defending champ Stephen Sambu. Today’s splits right in line with the last three years when the winning time ranged from 32:10 to 32:17.
Chris Thompson (far left) finally gives way between 4-5 miles. This is the traditional place on the course when the finalists are determined. Philadelphia Med school student Martin Hehir (yellow on left) well positioned coming off 8th place at July 4ths AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. Colley in blue on the right took 6th there. 
Still 10 strong turning off the water and heading through the neighborhood section of the course.
Sambu still in front at 5 miles – 23:14 (4:38) – as the men begin picking through remnants of the pro women’s field.
The final six take a left and head toward Falmouth Harbor, Left to right: Martin Hehir, Ben Flanagan, Stephen Sambu, Haron Lagat, Leonard Korir, Scott Fauble. Toughest part of the course, too far out to smell the barn, but five-plus miles in and hurting.
Sambu had established a good lead by the time he reached Falmouth Marine in each of the last four years, but he’s a little under-raced this summer as he heads toward the Chicago Marathon in October.
With Falmouth Harbor off their right shoulder, the final six take one another’s measure. NCAA 10,000m champion Ben Flanagan took 2nd at the Bix 7 in Iowa after placing third at the Canadian Nationals at 5000m and winning a road mile in Ann Arbor. He’s the man with the speed.
Six miles in 27:52, 10k in 28:49, no records today, but we’ve never seen six men still together this late in the race. And the crowd drives them even harder toward home.
And it’s the rookie, The Wolverine, Ben Flanagan, flashing his heels and romping to the tape with a giant smile creasing his face. NAE’s Scott Fauble a breakthrough in second. Leonard Korir on the podium for the fourth straight year in third. Sambu relegated to fourth.
Happiest champion EVER!
Go Blue! Michigan Hugs all around.
Falmouth Road Race board member Scott Ghelfi and family hosted Ben during his stay in Falmouth. He just about lost his voice shouting out Ben’s win over the PA.
Saluting Canada’s first ever Falmouth champ.
And in they come, neatly 12,000 in all.
Just behind the finish line the Crow’s Nesters take in the action.
After his win, Ben heads to the Crow’s Nest to celebrate, while receiving a well-earned standing O.
Brad Hurst awards Ben his Crow’s Nest tee shirt, which, according to no less a source than Malmo himself, is Falmouth’s equivalent of the Masters green jacket.
2x Boston Marathon champion Geoff Smith hails a Commonwealth man’s win at Falmouth, a first since Dave Murphy’s double in 1984-‘85.
Kickin’ back, reliving the day. Many of the Crow’s Nest crowd raced against University of Michigan women’s coach Mike McGuire back in the day. Mac texted Ben the address and said go up and say hi.
Overlooking Falmouth Heights, a place Ben will long remember.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. See you next year.

 

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2018 TD BEACH TO BEACON 10k PHOTO ESSAY

Cape Elizabeth, ME –  The 21st TD Beach to Beacon 10k presented the 7000 starters with the dreaded double of heat and humidity today, making for wet-banklet-like conditions over the rolling 6.2 mile run from Crescent Beach to Fort Williams Park.  Despite the oppressive conditions, New Zealander Jake Robertson arrived from his training base in Iten, Kenya anxious to take on the 2003 course record 27:28 set by Kenya’s Gilbert Okari in the first of three straight B2B wins.  Here are a series of photos from the lead men’s vehicle documenting the effort of Mr. Robertson and his followers.

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The finish line awaits at Ft. Williams Park , shot taken Friday at the B2B High School Miles
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The air horn sends the 7000 person field to their task at 8:12 a.m.
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Jake Robertson spoke of wanting to break the course record at the pre-race press conference, and put the boot in from the get-go, not waiting for any help. He used similar gun-to-tape tactics to win April’s Crescent City Classic in New Orleans in 27:28.
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No prisoners! A 4:15 first mile opened the winning gap. 2016 U.S. Olympian Shadrack Kipchirchir tried to follow, “but Jake was very tough.” You might think so after he knocked off five Kiwi national records in a six-week span early in the year, including a 60:01 win at the Houston Half Marathon.
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Mile 2 fell in 4:25 (8:40) and the road behind was already clear. “At the start Jake said, ‘are you ready to go with me, I’m going from the gun,“ said Steven Sambu, last year‘s fourth place B2B finisher and four-time Falmouth Road Race champion. “I said, ‘OK, let’s go.’ Then the 1st mile in 4:15, and in these conditions, it’s crazy! Way too fast for me.“
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Past 3 miles in 13:01 (4:21), 5K in 13:30 with a :34 lead on Sambu and Kipchirchir, Robertson was still rocking course record pace as he turned onto Shore Drive for the next three miles.
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4 miles fell in 17:31 (4:29) 16 seconds under course record pace. We could barely see Sambu and Kipchirchir in the distance with 2016 B2B champion Ben True moving into fifth behind Ethiopian Amedework Walelegn,  himself a 59;50 half-marathoner.
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Stern faced at 5 miles in 21:59, Jake took 4:28 for that 1609 yards, while Gilbert Okari ran a 4:16 in 2003. Only :04 under course record pace now, and paying the price for his early aggression and the high humidity. “At about 7.2 km I began to feel the conditions, “said Jake afterward. “I knew I had a gap and the win, but I came here on behalf of my family, my training partners, my sponsors, and everyone who supports me. Everyone has been so good to me in my time here in Maine, I wanted to give a performance that everyone was happy with.”
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Victory in hand! 27:37, tied for the third fastest time in B2B history. In these muggy conditions, Jake slowed over the final mile, but still won by 50-seconds, the largest margin in race history.  “I’m happy,” Jake told me in the media tent. “I was fearless and I delivered. If you set your mind to something and then deliver, you have to be satisfied. Sadly, no course record, but I gave it my best and I never want to give it anything but my best. ‘To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift’ is a Steve Prefontaine quote that I love. Hopefully, I can return to Cape Elizabeth next year and get that course record.”
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Race founder and 1984 Olympic Marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson greets a wobbly champion after his heroic effort.
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Fully recovered, Jake cheers in Stephen Sambu and Maine native Ben True in 2nd and 3rd. “I’m so happy for Jake,” said Stephen after checking the final times. “The way he trains, very serious. It’s amazing.” And that’s coming from the four-time Falmouth Road Race champion.
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A Viking ship sailed over Casco Bay behind the awards ceremony with Ram Island Light in the distance as another classic B2B was celebrated by the thousands lucky enough to have shared the course with some of the best foot-racers in the world. Thanks to the sponsors and record 878 volunteers who made it all possible. And to the host families who share their homes and hearts with all the invited runners. That’s olde tyme New England road racing at its best.

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