Kenyans Will Do The Chasing At The Hapalua

Nicholas Chelimo winning the 2011 Honolulu Marathon (photo courtesy of the Honolulu Marathon)

Approximately 2,500 runners will take part in the Hawaiian race.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

At the inaugural Hapalua, a half marathon scheduled for Sunday in Honolulu, two elite Kenyan marathoners will have to come from behind if they want to win the event’s $5000 first prize. That’s because a hand-picked group of local top athletes will be given a head start forcing Honolulu Marathon champions Nicholas Chelimo and Jimmy Muindi to give chase.

The general field of about 2,500 runners, including Chelimo and Muindi, will start the race in the heart of Waikiki at 6:00 a.m. in front of the famous Duke Kahanamoku Statue. But ahead of them, a dozen local women and a dozen local men will already be running. The women will start at 5:42 a.m. and the men at 5:51. Prize money, which will be paid ten-deep, will be distributed based on the rank order of finish regardless of gender. The race will use the Honolulu Marathon finish line adjacent to Kapiolani Park, also in Waikiki.

Some quick arithmetic shows that the locals definitely have a chance to pocket the $5,000 first prize. Cynthia Anderson, second at this year’s Kaiser Permanente Great Aloha Run on February 20, has run a 1:18 half marathon. If she runs that fast on Sunday, Chelimo or Muindi will have to break 60 minutes in order to catch the 2006 Atlantic 10 10,000m conference champion for the University of Rhode Island (she ran as Cindy Smith then). Thomas Puzey, who finished third at the Great Aloha Run, clocked 42:31 for that 8.15 mile race.  That’s roughly equivalent to a 1:10:11 half marathon, so his nine-minute headstart might be enough to keep Chelimo or Muindi from passing him.

Chelimo is the two-time defending champion of the Honolulu Marathon, while Muindi has won the race six times from 1999 through 2007.  Chelimo, 29, has a half-marathon personal best of 1:02:25, while Muindi, 38, has run 1:01:33.  Organizers expect both men to arrive in Honolulu tomorrow after their 30-hour trip from Nairobi.

The Hapalua –which means “half” in Hawaiian– was founded by the Honolulu Marathon Association, the organizers of the Honolulu Marathon. Based on finisher figures from 2011, the race is likely to be the third largest in Hawaii after the Honolulu Marathon (19,297 finishers), and Great Aloha Run (19,246).

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