Honolulu Abuzz About Patrick Makau

Patrick Makau won the Berlin Marathon in Septembre, running 2:05:08. Photo: PhotoRun.net

He’s the fastest man in the field, but his manager says he will not finish the race.

Written by: David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

He’s by far the fastest man entered in Sunday’s 38th edition of the Honolulu Marathon here with a 2:04:48 personal best, but Patrick Makau is the least likely man to win it.

“Absolutely, he will not be finishing, that’s a fact,” said his coach and manager Zane Branson emphatically in an interview. “If I have to jump off of the truck and grab him, he’s not going to finish.”

For Makau, 25, who was arguably the world’s #1 marathoner for 2010 with victories at both Rotterdam and Berlin and the world’s leading time of 2:04:48, this is a working vacation. He was supposed to be the top star at last Sunday’s Wincanton Montferland Run 15K in s’Heerenberg in the Netherlands, but organizers cancelled that event due to heavy snowfalls prior to the race and a forecast for sleet on race day. Branson thought that a trip to Hawaii would be the tonic for Makau, and Honolulu Marathon executive race director Jon Cross agreed and invited the Kenyan star to be a guest.

“It makes sense to me that Honolulu is a place… that would really be great for Patrick, to sit and relax, have a big chance, and still feel appreciated without feeling pressured,” Branson explained. “I think it’s just the ideal situation for him before he starts with his intensive training for the spring.”

It’s also a chance for Makau to give back to one of his mentors, six-time Honolulu champion Jimmy Muindi, with whom he used to train. Muindi, 37, helped support Makau financially at the beginning of his career when Makau was pacing Muindi during his speed workouts. Although the student has now surpassed the teacher, he has not forgotten who helped get him to the top.

“Jimmy is the one, along with (Patrick) Ivuti, that helped him in camp, supported him when he didn’t have any money, this type of stuff,” Branson said.

But Branson said that Makau is not really a pacemaker here, and is just as likely to just go along with the lead pack which will include Muindi and Kenyan compatriots Gilbert Kirwa (2:06:14 PB), Richard Limo (2:06:45), and Nicholas Chelimo (2:07:38). Makau has no experience on the Honolulu course, which has several challenging hills and is mostly run in the predawn darkness, and has not been contracted for any specific pacing duties. He’s certainly willing to help out, Branson said.

“There’s no point in talking about what the tempo’s going to be,” Branson said. “I’m going to talk to the other guys and see what they want, but it’s better for the race overall to have a controlled pace halfway, and I don’t know how far Patrick will want to go, maybe 15, 20K.”

Makau, who is here with his wife Cathereen and two year-old daughter Christine, was the picture of Island Casual today, wearing knee-length shorts and a button-front shirt untucked. He has yet to be spotted by this reporter in running clothes, and he certainly looked relaxed.

“Actually, I was very happy and I knew I would come with my family and have a nice holiday here” Makau said, recounting his conversation with Branson about coming to Honolulu. “It is the end of the year, and I have done some races, so it is good to come here and relax. Most of the time we’ve been walking around, especially around the ocean and the beach, and getting some photos.”

But when Makau dons his adidas kit on Sunday morning, he’ll still feel the jolt of competition. He likes to run from the front, and could stir up the pace.

“Of course, I’m not intending to run and finish, but I’ll be in the leading group and I’ll try to push,” he said turning serious. “Maybe, the guys will follow me. I’ll give them a good challenge and I’ll be helping them.”

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