JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
There wasn't a challenger in sight as Jimmy Muindi approached the finish line for his record fifth Honolulu Marathon victory.
Muindi stands alone
The Kenyan wins his third straight Honolulu Marathon and a race-record fifth overall
As it turned out, Jimmy Muindi had just one man to beat yesterday: Jimmy Muindi, the 2004 edition.
Not that the '05 model isn't sporty and smooth on the turns. The 32-year-old Kenyan was in top form yesterday, and he accelerated away from the front pack less than midway through the Honolulu Marathon and chased history -- his own -- the rest of the way.
The Top 5 Finishers
|1. Jimmy Muindi
|2. Mbarak Hussein
|3. Eric Nzioki
|4. Solomon Wachira
|5. Nobuhiko Chiba
Muindi didn't catch himself (his wife, Lucy, did that with a bear hug at the finish) to break the record he set last year. But he'll settle for a third consecutive Honolulu victory and record fifth overall.
His winning time was 2 hours, 12 minutes -- 48 seconds off his course record.
Three-time winner Mbarak Hussein -- a 40-year-old Kenyan who became a naturalized American citizen -- was second with 2:15:06.
But it really wasn't even that close.
The race became Muindi against the clock when running a pace right under 5 minutes per mile apparently began to bore him. As soon as the lead group of seven passed Kahala Mall (11 miles into the race) and headed to Hawaii Kai, Muindi turboed a 4:52 mile and then a 4:51, redesigning the clot of runners into a line. Then the other guys disappeared, with only his brother, Nicholus, and pace-setter Wilberforce Talel reappearing 40 meters behind him at the turn off Kalanianaole at mile 15.
Usually you see that move at 18, 19 miles," Hussein said. "The pace was good, the pace-setter was right on pace. Then all of a sudden ..."
The problem was Muindi had a different idea of the pace than the rest of the Kenyans.
"I didn't really break away, I was just running my pace," he said.
Hussein knew the race was probably at stake.
COURTESY HONOLULU MARATHON
Jimmy Muindi, second from left, led the pack early in yesterday's race. Three-time champion Mbarak Hussein, left, finished second.
"When a young guy does that you don't worry about it, he's fooling around," Hussein said. "Jimmy makes a move like that, he's serious. I had to ask myself if I was ready to go."
The answer was no, as it was for the rest of the vanguard -- Nicholus Muindi, Joseph Riri, Eric Nzioki (who finished third) and Solomon Wachira (fourth). None dared to follow.
"I wasn't waiting," Muindi said.
The downside for Muindi is he had no one to race with the rest of the way, no one to push him toward the finish for half the race. He built up a cushion of 30 seconds on his pace, but the climb up Diamond Head loomed, and even he would eventually have to pay for his mid-race burst.
Runners headed in the opposite direction tried to cheer him to the record, but by the 24th mile, his split was 5:16 and he was on the wrong side of the record pace.
Plus, the clock on the truck in front of him wouldn't work, and Muindi said that made it hard for him to attack the record.
"That is very bad," he said. "I don't know the pace I'm running because I'm alone."
Honolulu Marathon president Jim Barahal was in the truck and tried several times to fix the clock, to no avail.
"I don't think it helped him, and I would've preferred the clock to work," Barahal said. "Jimmy's an honorable guy, and if he said it affected him, it did. Enough to cost him 48 or 49 seconds? You never know, but probably not."
One second might have cost Muindi $5,000, because a sub 2:12:00 time would've earned him that in bonus money. But Barahal decided to give it to him anyway, and Muindi got $15,000 for first place, plus $10,000 in cumulative time incentives.
It made for a happy birthday for daughter Stella, who turned 11 yesterday. She, son Kevin and wife Lucy accompanied Muindi here for the second time in three years.
Muindi would've cashed another $10,000 if he'd broken his record. Perhaps in 2006. He does not appear to have peaked, and maybe one of the young Kenyans or Hussein will follow him next time.
"You cannot make (the record) alone," he said. "But I am happy."
Jun Hiromichi, left, of Japan, and Krige Schabort of Georgia raced along Waikiki Beach before sunrise during the Honolulu Marathon yesterday.
Yukio Okubo of Japan was helped across the finish line yesterday by Paul Schweiger, left, and an unidentified runnner.