Honolulu, HI – The Honolulu Marathon may not be a World Marathon Major, but it is a major world marathon. Now in it’s 47th year, the island classic began as more of an end-of-the-season lark for the handful of top local runners and a few island hopping elites brought over by their shoe company sponsor. Winning times would generally fall just under 2:20 for men and 2;40 for women. But it was always a fun time more than a fast time.
Then something happened, and over the last 30 years Honolulu has become a springboard for some of the greatest marathoners of the modern era who utilized the Honolulu Marathon as a proving ground for greater glory on the world stage.
Kenya’s Ibrahim Hussein was the first Kenyan champion in Honolulu, winning three straight from 1985 to 1987. More than that, the University of New Mexico grad twice broke the Honolulu course record, slashing three-plus minutes off Dave Gordon’s 1982 mark of 2:15:30 with a 2:12:08 in 1985, then slicing another 25-seconds off in 1986.
Before Hussein the assumption was that Kenyans were not disciplined enough for the marathon distance. Attacking 26 miles as if it were 10K road or 12K cross country event, Kenyan athletes flamed out well before the finish lines of marathons far and wide.
Think of that assumption today in light of the last three decades of marathon domination that has emerged from training camps in and around the towns of Eldoret and Iten in the Central Highlands of Kenya.
Hussein went on to become the first Kenyan to win the New York City Marathon in 1987, then duplicated that first with three wins in Boston in 1988, ‘91, & ’92. Continue reading