Honolulu, HI. — Former marathon world record holder Patrick Makau and 2004 Olympic 5000 meter silver medalist Isabella Ochichi, both from Kenya, have returned to Hawaii as the star attractions for Sunday’s fifth Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon. Organized by the Honolulu Marathon Association, the Hapalua features a field of nearly 8000 runners in 2016, 2000 of whom hail from Japan. Both categories represent significant increases in the rapidly expanding sister race to December’s Honolulu Marathon.
The Hapalua is best known for its unique Chase format in which Team Hawaii consisting of 20 top local runners from the islands are given a series of head starts ranging from 23 minutes to 6 minutes before four professionals including Ochichi, Makau, Ryotaro Otani from Japan, and Erick Kibet from Kenya, take to the chase.
Makau (PR, 58:52) and Kibet (PR, 61:10) represent the scratch runners in the field (Kibet more as a pacer to give Makau company in the early stages), while Ochichi (PR, 68:38) will have a six-minute advantage, and 25 year-old Ryotaro Otani (PR, 62:48) will begin at 5:58 a.m. a slim two minutes ahead of his Kenyan rivals. From there it is the first person across the Kapiolani Park finish line who will take home the $5000 first prize out of a total purse of $11,000.
Local runners won the first three Hapalua Chases, while Peter Kirui of Kenya finally took home the top prize for the pros last year in a course record 64:08.
2016 marks the third Hapalua appearance for Makau, whose 2:03:38 win at the 2011 Berlin Marathon stood as the world record for two years. In 2013 Patrick ran 65:28 at the Hapalua, but only finished 16th in the Chase format.
Makua returned to Honolulu in 2014, coming off a chronic knee injury that had sidelined him for the remainder of 2013 following a 2:14 finish at London Marathon in April. A the 2014 Hapalua he ran a conservative 68:42, good for 15th position in the Chase. This year he arrives with seven year-old daughter Christine after dropping out of the Dong-A Marathon in Seoul, South Korea on March 20th, felled by a stomach bug that knocked him out before he reached 10K. The former world record holder is aiming for a 63:30 on Sunday.
36 year-old Isabella Ochichi took a long seven year break from competitive running after a bronze medal finish in the 5000m at the 2006 World Athletic Final. Two Achilles tendon surgeries and a stubborn weight gain after the birth of her son Bernard in 2010 kept the 2004 Olympic silver medalist over 5000m sidelined.
She has finished third in the last two Honolulu Marathons, and fourth in the 2014 Hapalua Chase, even with a women’s course record 70:24. Just last week Isabella finished fifth in the Prague Half Marathon running 69:03. Her goal is to run 71-flat.
The Hapalua starts at 6 a.m.on April 10 by The Duke Kahanamoku statue in Waikiki and finishes in Kapiolani Park just like its sister Honolulu Marathon in December. The times on the Hapalua course seem slow, but that has as much to do with challenging front and backside climbs over the infamous Diamond Head in the final four miles as it does with the tropical weather.
I will be hosting a live Periscope feed from the lead vehicle once the sun comes up. You can follow along on my Periscope (<— download link) at ToniReavis.
Periscope is a simple iPhone app by Twitter that lets you do live streaming or broadcast to all your followers on Twitter. You can also watch and follow other people doing broadcasts on it. If a person you’re following is doing live broadcasts, you can easily see it from your main dashboard on the app.