HEALTH & FITNESS
Race never ends for marathoners
Three runners have participated in all 34 Honolulu Marathons
Tomorrow* is the last day to register early and enjoy a steep discount for the 35th annual Honolulu Marathon. Chances are, more than a few people will enter and not actually run the race, for one reason or another. But there are three people who will make it to the starting line no matter what.
A Running Start
Early registration for the 35th annual Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 9 ends tomorrow* at Niketown. Cost is $20, which includes timing chip. Hawaii residents and military stationed in the islands are eligible. After tomorrow,* registration will close, then open again at the regular price, which has not been determined. Last year's regular registration fee was $60, and the late fee (the few weeks before the race) was $125.
Dr. Jerold Chun, Gordon Dugan and Gary Dill are the only athletes to have completed all 34 Honolulu Marathon events. And all three are planning to participate in No. 35 this year.
Chun was only 14 years old when he ran that first marathon. Inspired by the quest for good health by his father, the late Hing Hua "Hunky" Chun, Jerold and his siblings started jogging around the track at Roosevelt High School. That led to more serious training, which evolved into a two-hour, 46-minute Honolulu Marathon for Jerold.
After the Roosevelt graduate finished his college education at the University of Hawaii, he entered an M.D./Ph.D. program at Stanford University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Now a neuroscientist at Scripps Research Institute, he typically logs 20 to 30 miles a week. A few months before the marathon, he tries to increase his mileage, and sometimes leaves his house at 4 a.m. to finish his long runs before work or his children's sporting events.
Incorporating running and weightlifting into his busy schedule has been difficult. But staying healthy and finding time to return to Hawaii every year has been even more formidable. "When I was living on the East Coast, it was really a challenge," he said. "There were some close calls."
So close, in fact, that he arrived one year from an important meeting in New York after midnight on Sunday morning, just a few hours before the race. "Just a couple of hours of sleep, and off we went," he laughed.
His brother, Dr. Hingson Chun, a cardiologist at Straub Clinic & Hospital in Honolulu, used to participate in the race with Jerold. But one year, Hingson wasn't properly trained and "hit the wall at six miles," chuckled Jerold. That was his last marathon.
But Jerold is still committed to the event, with altered goals. "Finishing is No. 1," he said. "But I don't like the idea of being passed by a Playboy bunny or a guy in geta clomping down the road. It's very demoralizing."
This year, the 47-year-old will shoot for a sub-four-hour marathon. So far, illnesses and injuries -- though he has run the marathon with both at one time or another -- have not prevented his involvement. But he knows that could change at any moment. "These days, I can hurt myself just getting out of bed, so I have to be careful!"
Chun explained that running is only part of the equation. "One notion that drove all this marathoning over the years was to come back and see my dad, and (running the race) meant a lot to him," he said. "That was my way of paying respect to him. It's a return to my roots, and this is a tangible way of doing it. That's one reason I keep coming back."
GORDON DUGAN'S goals this year also will be modified from his earlier days. Now 73, he plans to walk the event because his knees won't let him run anymore.
But those knees have been through a lot. In 1980 Dugan ran the Honolulu Marathon in 2:54. The former professor of civil engineering at the University of Hawaii has completed more than 60 marathons, including the Boston Marathon and the Big Island Marathon multiple times.
He's also run ultramarathons. And not just 36 miles straight up Haleakala, or the standard 50-milers. Dugan ran the grueling Western States 100-mile race on trails over the Sierra Mountains in 21 hours. He finished seventh overall.
"I just enjoy running," said the soft-spoken Dugan. "It's a good feeling. It keeps me in shape. When I was running, I could eat anything I wanted."
His passion for the sport was ignited at age 40, when he began searching for a way to lose weight. When the first Honolulu Marathon was scheduled, he entered "just as a whim, same as Gary Dill (who was on a fishing trip and could not be reached for this story). I read about it in the paper the week before and thought I'd try it."
So why does he keep coming back? "It's a challenge to keep on doing it," he said. Some years more than others. Like the time he was in the hospital intensive-care unit just 16 days before the race. But Dugan managed to pull himself out of bed and finish in 7:02.
When asked how many more he planned to enter, he laughed. "One year at a time," he said. "I'm not making any promises."
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Early registration for the 2007 Honolulu Marathon ends tomorrow, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007. This article, as published in the Sat., Jan. 27, 2007 Honolulu Star-Bulletin newsprint edition, stated incorrectly that early registration ended today for the event.