POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 13, 2010
The man they call the "King" back in Kenya patiently bided his time and then imposed his will on a strong field to win the 38th Honolulu Marathon going away.
Using his experience from last year's runner-up finish to maximum advantage, Nicholas Chelimo outthought and then outran his compatriots in the 26.2-mile race yesterday in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 28 seconds. Fellow Kenyan Richard Limo finished a distant second in 2:17:18, and Solomon Bushendich placed third (2:19:54).
A year after finishing second to Patrick Ivuti, the 27-year-old Chelimo earned the champion's laurels and first-place prize of $40,000 plus a $1,000 time bonus. His victory capped a year during which he also won the Nagano Marathon in Japan and fell a stride short of another win two months ago at the Eindhoven (The Netherlands) Marathon.
"I am very happy to return (to Honolulu for) my victory," a smiling Chelimo said after the race.
In stark contrast to last year's scintillating start, this year's elite men seemed to sleepwalk through the early-morning downtown darkness. The slow start included cautious 5:26, 5:23 and 5:25 miles, and the lead pack of eight Kenyans and Nicholas Stanko, of Haslett, Mich., passed the 10K mark (6.2 miles) at a pedestrian 32:56 pace.
After 7 miles, the lead group shrank to six — Gilbert Kirwa, Chelimo, Richard Limo, Solomon Bushendich, six-time Honolulu champion Jimmy Muindi and Patrick Makau, a two-time winner this year in Rotterdam and Berlin and owner of the year's fastest marathon time (2:04:48). But the men didn't turn in their first sub-5-minute mile (4:59) until they had tepidly trotted through 9 miles.
"The pace, I think, went a little bit fast and slow, fast and slow, fast and slow, so it was very ... tactical," Chelimo said.
As they ran, the Kenyan contingent, including Chelimo, talked tactics, mindful that a fast first half might take its toll in the second half of the race.
"Last year, I experienced if you run very fast (early)," maybe it will be very terrible (later)," Chelimo explained after the race.
"Nicholas had a big advantage, obviously, by running here last year," said Zane Branson, Chelimo's agent. "You just learn to respect the course, because it's a course that needs respect."
While Makau mostly hung back, Kirwa and Limo took turns pushing the pace, Kirwa often forging a few steps ahead as the six men ran up and around Diamond Head and down Kilauea Avenue.
As expected, nominal pacesetter Makau stepped off the course just after the 11-mile mark. Muindi dropped back soon afterward as the lead pack of four passed Ainakoa Avenue in Waialae and headed out into a slight headwind to Hawaii Kai.
Kirwa and Limo picked up speed as the lead pack of four hit the half-marathon mark in 1:07:40, more than 3 minutes off last year's pace.
Though the storm system that drenched the islands earlier this week gave way to dry 69-degree race day conditions, weather still turned out to be a big wild-card factor. The profuse perspiration dripping off the leaders hinted at the humidity pushing 96 percent.
"You could see how much they were sweating, and how much they were suffering, too," said Branson.
Entering Hawaii Kai, Limo made some tentative spurts to test the others, but the leaders mostly shared the work — sometimes almost single file, sometimes four abreast — as they looped around Hawaii Kai and headed back onto Kalanianaole. Kirwa made a final try to take the lead but both he and Bushendich fell back by the 21-mile mark.
Chelimo made his move at 22 miles, first once, then twice with a big surge, and suddenly the race was done. Limo could not answer his countryman's attack, and the blue-clad Chelimo finished strong and steady over the punishing final 3-mile stretch along Kahala Avenue and up and around Diamond Head.
"It was difficult for me," said Limo. "This was my first time in Honolulu. I didn't know the course."
"It was a long run and a short race," said Toni Reavis, who provided radio commentary from the men's pace truck. "Not a long race which might've drained (Chelimo)."
"Given the conditions he was facing (and) the field he was facing, he played his cards just right and was rewarded for that."
"It's a big advantage, the course knowledge, not only knowing the terrain and also the landmarks and dealing with the heat," added Dr. Jim Barahal, Honolulu Marathon Association president.
The win was another big step in the slow but steady rise for Chelimo, who Branson concedes he took the Kenyan on as a client only at the recommendation of Muindi.
It was former marathon world-record holder Paul Tergat who first spotted the potential in Chelimo and who dubbed him with his regal nickname.
"Maybe (Tergat) saw the future of Nicholas," says Branson. "It was kind of a joke, but it stuck with him. I go and talk to guys (Nicholas's hometown) in Ngong and say, 'Have you seen Nicholas Chelimo?' and they don't know who I'm talking about, and I say, 'King,' and everybody knows (him)."
|By Age Group|
|1. Takaki Omuro||18||2:36:05|
|2. Shohei Hayakawa||18||2:37:40|
|3. Hikaru Kato||18||2:47:35|
|4. Katsuya Takahashi||18||2:49:10|
|5. Masafumi Chiba||18||3:00:31|
|1. Kenichiro Koide||22||2:33:29|
|2. Masayuki Miwa||24||2:34:50|
|3. Matthew Gulden||23||2:50:28|
|4. Kevin Enriques||22||2:53:58|
|5. Junya Iwakawa||20||2:54:10|
|1. Koji Tanaka||26||2:49:33|
|2. Yoshiyasu Nishimura||28||2:53:02|
|3. Jorge Cruz||28||2:59:54|
|4. Daisuke Tsuihiji||28||3:00:27|
|5. Kyle Geiken||25||3:00:55|
|1. Koji Hiruta||32||2:47:58|
|2. Ian Sharman||30||2:53:00|
|3. Jason Braswell||32||2:55:03|
|4. Hidenori Yajima||31||2:55:12|
|5. Matt Stevens||32||2:57:05|
|1. Makoto Ogura||37||2:30:20|
|2. Tomoyuki Ota||36||2:41:27|
|3. Atsushi Hasegawa||35||2:44:26|
|4. Takayuki Ogawa||39||2:50:04|
|5. David Easa||36||2:51:37|
|1. Mitsuru Shinohara||43||2:45:11|
|2. Yasuto Kimura||43||2:49:06|
|3. Peter Boksanski||41||2:53:05|
|4. Mike Kramer||42||2:54:23|
|5. Alan Ryan||40||2:56:14|
|1. Marty Muchow||45||2:49:13|
|2. Kazuyoshi Takada||46||2:54:58|
|3. Hiroshi Onuki||46||2:56:50|
|4. David Anderson||46||2:58:27|
|5. Mark Geoghegan||47||2:58:27|
|1. Akihiro Nakamura||50||2:55:00|
|2. Akihiko Futaki||51||2:59:04|
|3. Gianfranco Maserati||51||3:02:40|
|4. Kazuhiko Maeo||51||3:05:27|
|5. Tetsutomo Iizuka||51||3:07:25|
|1. Yukihiro Nakamoto||55||3:05:37|
|2. Michael Georgi||58||3:10:22|
|3. Mark Bradbury||56||3:12:49|
|4. Isao Magara||56||3:14:32|
|5. Naonori Yamada||56||3:24:44|
|1. Akira Hoshio||63||3:02:24|
|2. Akira Ito||62||3:18:08|
|3. Kiyomitsu Nishida||60||3:19:47|
|4. Akira Suzuki||61||3:23:47|
|5. Katsuji Morita||63||3:28:59|
|1. Michael Schoene||65||3:20:34|
|2. Kazuo Ito||65||3:28:31|
|3. Takeshi Kamito||68||3:37:54|
|4. Hideo Katsube||65||3:42:30|
|5. Tadao Nakayama||67||3:45:46|
|1. Takayuki Chono||70||3:46:05|
|2. Chisao Kakinoki||70||4:02:48|
|3. Takeyoshi Ehara||70||4:05:14|
|4. Kohei Terada||73||4:14:21|
|5. Toshikuni Sekiguchi||71||4:21:02|
|1. Kiyoharu Maehara||77||3:49:48|
|2. Hiroo Sugeno||75||4:30:11|
|3. Yasuto Fukuzawa||75||4:52:51|
|4. Kit Smith||76||4:58:58|
|5. Teruo Matsuda||75||5:08:01|
|1. Norio Sakurai||80||5:25:14|
|2. Shoichi Sato||80||6:04:27|
|3. Manfred Tjaben||81||6:16:56|
|4. Shuhei Sugiura||80||7:12:44|
|5. Ben Eligio Sr.||82||7:39:21|
|1. Takayuki Furukawa||85||6:13:06|
|2. Tadao Ikari||85||7:52:39|
|3. Lyle Nelson||86||8:07:20|
|4. Robert Henninger||85||8:47:15|
|5. Otto Horn||85||9:41:26|
|1. Takeo Goto||90||9:22:43|
|83.||Joel Ffolkes-St Helene||3:06:38|
|192.||Heikki M Kinen||3:21:02|
|210.||Gian Luca Fogliato||3:22:38|
|235.||Jari Pitk Koski||3:25:13|
|236.||G Ran Karnf Lt||3:25:15|