Monday, November 30, 2015         

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Racers fewest since 1991

By Dan Nakaso


The wind and rain ended just in time for yesterday's 38th Honolulu Marathon, and Lynn Jones was happy for the return of clear skies.

"I was crossing my fingers," Jones, a 34-year-old bank teller from Hawaii Kai, said after finishing with a time of 4 hours and 40 minutes.

Precisely 20,735 racers began the marathon before sunrise yesterday, and race organizers said 20,169 crossed the finish line at Kapiolani Park.

In what might be a sign of the still-struggling economy, the estimated number of runners was the fewest for the Honolulu Marathon since 1991 -- and far fewer than the 23,469 who entered last year and the 23,230 who entered in 2008.

But over the past five years, race organizers say, the Honolulu Marathon has generated more revenue -- $100 million annually in visitor spending -- than any other Hawaii sporting event.

Honolulu Marathon organizers call their event the "most tolerant" in the world by allowing runners to finish with official times even if it takes them 16 hours. Race officials send out an escort vehicle when the last runner reaches Diamond Head Road en route to the finish.

It takes almost 10,000 volunteers to put on Hawaii's largest footrace.

They go through 63.5 tons of ice, 70,000 sponges and 1.9 million cups while both volunteers and runners fill up 9,500 33-gallon trash bags and 16 massive trash bins with rubbish.

Some 400 "special-duty" Honolulu police officers detour traffic around the 26.2-mile course with the help of 3,750 traffic cones, 2,125 flasher barricades and 2,350 "no parking" signs.

Yesterday's race conditions were better than expected for Kurt Muraoka, an accounting manager from Waikele who, at the age of 50, ran his 15th Honolulu Marathon.

"It turned out to be nice weather," Muraoka said.

The sun did not show up until Muraoka was into his 19th or 20th mile. By then he was on pace to finish in 4:07, one of his top five marathon times.

But Gilbert Dizon's knees were screaming in revolt yesterday after his second marathon in two weeks.

Dizon, a 25-year-old teacher at Kahala Elementary School, felt fine after running the Seattle Marathon in just under four hours on Nov. 28 -- but not so good after yesterday's run.

"I guess I'm still recovering from Seattle," Dizon said while rubbing his knees.

He still finished yesterday's Honolulu Marathon in 4 hours and 20 minutes, but said, "I went out way too fast and burned out in the end," he said. "I was really pushing myself."

The weather did not add to his agony.

"No rain at all," Dizon said. "It was nice. Not too hot, either."

Jones, the bank teller from Hawaii Kai, was rubbing her legs, too, and still needed to walk another mile to get back to her car.

But Jones did not mind, in part because she met her goal of finishing in less than five hours.

"My legs are sore, my back is sore and I still need to make it to my car," Jones said. "But any time you say you're going to run 26.2 miles and then you do it, you're going to be happy."

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