After an evening of thunderstorms and heavy showers on the island of Oahu, 21,000 runners, including the most elite field ever (Race Results Weekly Article), took to the streets of paradise for the 39th running of the Honolulu Marathon under decent conditions (72 degrees, 79% humidity).
Brutal headwinds confronted runners through Hawaii Kai causing leaders and recreational runners to drop some pedestrian mile splits, putting course records out of contention.
The men’s race came down to a pack of four Kenyans including, Nicholas Chelimo, Josphat Boit, Kiplimo Kimutai, and Patrick Ivuti.
After a long battle it was defending champion Nicholas Chelimo, and two-time HNL Champion, Patrick Ivuti who crested the world-famous Diamond Head charging towards the Kapiolani Park finish line.
Chelimo, 33 came out on top running unofficially 2:14:54 in what race announcers claimed as the most exciting HNL marathon finish ever.
In his debut marathon Josphat Boit, the former Arkansas Razorback, ran courageously with the leaders and finished in third in unofficially 2:15:40.
On the women’s side defending champion Belainesh Gebre was expected to run away from the field, but was dropped around 30k. Instead it was Woimshet Girma, Valentina Galimova and Emmah Muthoni who took charge over the final 15k. 25- year-old Girma (ETH) was the first to enter Kapiolani Park, winning her first HNL Marathon in 2:31:41. It was catfight for 2nd place, with Muthoni of Ethiopia ultimately finishing 2nd.
You might be wondering how the HNL Marathon recruits such an elite field despite the challenging course, and the unlikelihood of running a marathon personal best? Elite Coordinator, Jon Cross, models the care of the elites after the Boston Marathon, treating these elites like royalty from the moment they land in paradise. Unlike some races where elites, come in, run hard and collect their paycheck; at HNL, elites visited local schools prior to the race to inspire and infect the island with their passion for running.
The team of race directors led by HNL marathon president Jim Barahal is comprised of former University of Michigan harriers, hence their ability to recruit former Boston Marathon Champion (1983) and University of Michigan runner Greg Meyers to do finish line announcing at the 2011 edition of this spectacular event.
Meyers and Runners Feed’s Founder Brandon Laan, calmed the nerves of participants by directing running seminars at the HNL Marathon Expo throughout the week.
Runners Feed would like to give a huge MAHALO (“Thank you” in Hawaiian) to AM940 for their spectacular coverage of the HNL Marathon.
While we report, runners of today’s race are likely refueling with the 20,000 malasadas provided at the finish line.
About the Author: Chantelle Wilder is the Senior Editor and Co-Founder of Runners Feed. She also competes for the New Balance Silicon Valley Club in the Bay Area of California. When she isn’t running, or editing she can be found enjoying the fruitful wines of nearby Napa Valley while challenging her husband to a game of Bananagrams®.