HONOLULU MARATHON CAPS RECORD YEAR

Honolulu, HI – Imagine what old Pheidippides would have thought of this marathon year of 2019. The original marathoner, the one who expired after running 40k from Marathon to Athens in 492 B.C. to bring word of a military victory to the city fathers, how would he have wrapped his head around Eliud Kipchoge’s 1:59:40 exhibition in Vienna, or Brigid Kosgei’s 2:14:04 in Chicago, or now Titus Ekiru’s 2:07:59.02 in the heat, humidity, and hills of Honolulu?

Honolulu record setter Titus Ekiru

First of all, he’d probably lose his mind by just the idea of Hawaii as a place, but other than that he’d likely wonder if gravity had somehow been mastered or overcome. How else to explain such running?  Yet we don’t have to go back 2500 years to be gobsmacked by the current state of affairs.

“Who ever thought we’d see times like this here?” said long time Honolulu Marathon president Jim Barahal after watching Titus Ekiru’s 27-second course record at yesterday’s 47th Honolulu Marathon.

Barahal’s head-scratching bemusement distilled the feelings many have had regarding the tectonic changes this sport has been living through in recent years.

Nowadays, rather than the grueling endurance challenge of yesteryear, the marathon seems like just another race for the sport’s top talent. In fact, it doesn’t seem to give them even a moment’s pause whatsoever.

So when 28 year-old Titus Ekiru arrived on the island to defend his 2018 title coming off a three minute marathon PB in the spring in Milan, Italy, then tuned up for Honolulu with a big half marathon best in Lisbon in late October (60:12), the Honolulu record was definitely under threat, given the right conditions. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

CHAMPIONS TO CLASH IN HONOLULU

Honolulu, Hi – Looking through the winning times of the Honolulu Marathon over the years can take you back to the days before the first Running Boom when 5:00 per mile pace was still the gold standard for world-class marathon running.

Sunset on the eve before the race

Even in today’s world where the race is on for the first sub-2 hour performance, the Honolulu Marathon record of 2:09:39, set last year by Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono, looks as modest as a peck on your sister’s cheek. But when you read the names of Honolulu’s champions, you begin to understand the challenge that heat, humidity, and hills can represent in what remains one of the world’s most iconic city marathons.

Dennis Kimetto feeling the Aloha spirit

This year, for the first time in its 45 years, the marathon world record holder will toe the Honolulu Marathon starting line tomorrow morning at 5 AM. Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto will be joined by over 27,000 fellow adventurers, only a handful of whom have any chance of beating the 33 year-old. But those handful are dangerous, indeed. Continue reading

COOLER WEATHER PREDICTING FAST TIMES IN HONOLULU

Honolulu, HI. – As the countdown to the 45th Honolulu Marathon continues and the hotels along Waikiki Beach fill up with runners, all who assumed that the world’s most tropical marathon would once again offer balmy conditions are now digging into their luggage for any long-sleeve shirt they might have brought along by mistake.

Waikiki Beach

“Only twice before in race history have we seen conditions like this,” said Honolulu Marathon president Jim Barahal as temperatures hovered around the mid-60sF. “In 1986 when Ibrahim Hussein ran a course record (2:11:43), and in 2004 when Jimmy Muindi ran 2:11:12.”

The conditions Dr. Barahal describes are light north winds bringing dipping temps with low humidity. Typical December weather on the islands call for temps ranging from 76F – 87F, rarely falling below 64F, with winds predominately from the east.

Last year with light breezes replacing the traditional trade winds buffeting miles 11-15 along  Kalanianaʻole Highway heading to the marathon turnaround in Hawaii Kai, Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono and 2014 champion Wilson Chebet dueled below the 2004 course record of 2:11:12. Cherono became the first man ever under 2:10 in Honolulu with his 2:09:38 win. Chebet took second in 2:10:50. Continue reading

2017 LONDON MARATHON: A VIEWER’S PERSPECTIVE

Kenya’s Mary Keitany is all smiles at London Marathon 2017

This is a strange game, isn’t it?  Here we see the great Mary Keitany winning her third Virgin Money London Marathon in 2:17:01, and for the rest of the morning we try to figure out where her performance stands in the list of best-ever women’s marathons.

Now, forgetting all this mixed-gender, women’s-only, point-to-point, downhill  or loop course qualifiers, Mary’s 2:17:01 is the second fastest women’s finishing time ever posted behind Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25, London 2003.  But on the coverage shown in the USA by NBCSN her time was referred to as the fastest time ever in a women’s-only race, bettering Paula’s 2:17:42 from London 2005.  But even that 2005 London time ranks behind Paula’s 2:17:18 from Chicago 2002. Confused?

When reading through the chattering class on LetsRun.com, and referring to my own 2002 journal when I covered the women’s race for NBC5 in Chicago, we remember LetsRun co-founder Weldon Johnson served  as Paula’s “escort”, if not rabbit per se.  But when Paula smashed that Chicago mark in London the following spring with her magical 2:15:25, she was also “escorted” by two Kenyan guys the entire way. Continue reading

KENYAN CHAMPION REACHING OUT TO BACK OF THE PACK

Perhaps it took Competitor Group’s two-by-four to the frontal lobe to get people’s attention, but now that CGI has eliminated appearance fees and (by running’s standards) appreciable prize purses at its U.S.-based Rock `n` Roll Series, it seems the message, “nobody cares how fast you run if nobody cares who you are”, has gotten through the fastest anonymous runners of the world.

This week International Athletics Consultancy, a European-based sports agency, announced that one of its top clients, two-time TCS Amsterdam Marathon champion Wilson Chebet, is using Facebook to offer advice to average runners prepping for the October 20th race. Continue reading