HEALTH & FITNESS
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Honolulu Marathon champion Lyubov Denisova ran with the Iolani track teams and show ed them high-level fitness exercises.
Denisova leaves students breathless
The Russian star, who holds the record for Honolulu's race, gives advice on stretching
Kon Weber, 17, is one of Iolani School's best runners, posting 9:31 for 3,000 meters as a junior last year. Even so, he was impressed when Russian marathoner Lyubov Denisova led the Iolani athletes through a warm-up run and a series of stretches this week.
"It's pretty cool; she could easily beat anyone else here," said Weber, who completed the Honolulu Marathon in about four hours. "Just the fact that she ran (the marathon) that fast is amazing."
The diminutive Denisova, who at 5 feet and 94 pounds was difficult to spot in the crowd of student-athletes, certainly made her presence known in the 2006 Honolulu Marathon. The 35-year-old set the course record of 2:27:19, an average of 5:37 per mile for 26.2 miles. Of the 24,575 finishers, only eight men beat her. In previous years the mother of a 7-year-old daughter placed second in the Boston and New York Marathons and won the Los Angeles Marathon. She hopes to be on the Olympic team representing Russia in Beijing.
Currently training for the Boston Marathon in April, Denisova visited Hawaii last week to "give back to the community," said her agent and translator Andrey Baranov. "She likes Hawaii, and the people were very nice during the race," Baranov added in his thick Russian accent. Leading miniclinics at the schools "is something different. Maybe the young runners will get inspired."
At the UH-New Mexico State basketball game, Denisova co-presented with Dr. Jim Barahal a $15,000 check to the UH Foundation from the Honolulu Marathon Association. She also worked out with the Punahou, Kamehameha and Mililani High School track teams, ran with the Niketown running club and met with Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
"They were looking forward to her visit," said Earl Hedani, Iolani's head track coach. "It's just a thrill for them to see someone of this caliber. And this is the first time we had a stretch where everyone listened!"
Weber and fellow runner Maile Scarpino, 16, agreed that students paid attention because they were learning innovative stretches they would incorporate into their warm-up routine. When first-year runner Scarpino heard that Denisova logs 100 to 150 miles per week, often at a 34-minute 10K pace, she said, "Now that's inspiring."
Before starting their regular workout, dozens of students lined up on the track to wait for Denisova to sign a photograph of herself crossing the finish line in the Honolulu Marathon.
"We're thankful that she came," Scarpino said. "It's a great experience."