28TH TINMAN TRIATHLON
MIKE BURLEY / MBURLEY@STARBULLETIN.COM
Tim Marr has won the Tinman Triathlon the past two years. He goes after his third victory tomorrow.
Marr after 3-peat at Tinman
The Kapahulu resident passes up a money race to go after his third straight win in the people’s triathlon
Tim Marr has been island hopping. Sort of.
Last week, the Kapahulu resident and pro triathlete finished seventh in an international field in the Amica Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island Triathlon - a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.
28th TINMAN TRIATHLON
» When: Tomorrow, 5:45 a.m. start
» Where: 750-meter (0.47 mile) swim at Queen's Beach, 40-km (24.8-mile) bike leg from Kapiolani Park to Hawaii Kai and back, and 10-km (6.2-mile) run around Diamond Head. Finish near Kapiolani Park bandstand.
» Course records (present course): Men: Tim Marr (1:42:48) in 2006; Women: Bree Wee (1:57:08) in 2005.
The previous week, Marr, 29, was the first American and fourth overall finisher in another half-Ironman race at Lake Stevens, Wash. On Sunday, the two-time defending men's winner will head the field in the 28th Tinman Triathlon.
Marr considered competing in another half-Ironman event in Northern California tomorrow with prize money at stake, but decided to return home to defend his Tinman title.
"(The Tinman is) still one of the most prestigious events in the state," said Marr, who has competed as a pro for the last two and a half years. "After traveling the past few weeks, there's no place like home.
"And I feel it's important to be at the local races to help promote (the triathlon)."
Race organizers expect about 700 participants - a third of whom are first-time competitors - for the event, which includes a 750-meter (0.47 mile) swim at Queen's Beach in Waikiki, a 40-kilometer (24.8-mile) bike leg from Kapiolani Park to Hawaii Kai and back, and a 10-km (6.2-mile) run around Diamond Head.
"The Tinman is the people's race," said longtime triathlon coach Raul Boca. "I love to see the smiles on people's faces when they finish the race.
"Once upon a time, people only knew the Ironman (Triathlon)," Boca said of the grueling endurance event composed of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. Now, says Boca, the sport has "matured."
In 2000, the event debuted as an Olympic sport at the Sydney Games. There are triathlon series for pros like Marr with stops around the world. And for the weekend warriors, there are shorter triathlons like the venerable Tinman.
"Races like the Tinman allow people to participate in the sport," Boca said. "It's something you can do by spending 1 hour every other day and a few hours on the weekend. People can say, 'Yeah, I've done a triathlon,' without it taking over your whole life. It doesn't interfere with your work or your family, but it adds something positive to your life."
Boca's own story belies his every man and woman message. After finishing his first Tinman in 1988, Boca returned to Brazil, quit his job, sold everything he owned and moved to Hawaii. He completed his first Ironman in Kona the following year. The Big Island also was where Marr caught the Ironman bug while running cross country for UH-Hilo.
"I thought, 'I was born to do this,' " he said. "I fell in love with the whole thing."
Boca, Marr's coach and mentor, says his protege is poised for a breakthrough performance against top-notch competition.
"(Tim's) potential is unbelievable," Boca said. "He's really talented and very determined. And he has a big heart. Someone like Tim makes the sport look good."
Marr won three local sprint triathlons earlier this year and turned in strong performances against tough competition in events here, on the mainland and abroad.
In April, Marr finished third in a half-Ironman event on Hainan Island off the southern coast of China.
"It was amazing," he said. "(The Chinese) say (Haikou, the host city) is a small town. But to them, a small town is 11 million people," Marr laughed.
"I was really scared. When people there drive, there are no rules. But they closed all the roads along the bike route. And people came out by the thousands to watch and cheer us on. I had goose bumps the whole time."
Marr was leading the run leg until the oppressive heat took its toll on him.
"The last half of the run was a struggle just to make it from aid station to aid station," he said. "I held onto second until the last hundred meters. It was a tough loss for me."
For Marr, the Tinman is part of a summer training schedule that he hopes will help him peak for the Ford Ironman World Championship on Oct. 11.
"When you do an Ironman as a professional, you have to be totally ready to race," said Marr, who completed his first Ironman in Korea last August to qualify for the Kona race.
"It's the absolute best of the best there. You have to go your hardest and fastest the whole time. If you slack off at all, you'll fall out of it.
"The Tinman and the other local races help me get used to a hard race, because there are always strong fields," he said.
Although he's yet to notch a top-flight triathlon win, Marr is confident he can put together a winning performance soon.
"I haven't had the fastest overall time, but in different events I've had the fastest split in the individual swim, bike and run legs. So I know I have the potential. I know I can do it. I just need the right training, the right rest, the right day and the right experience."
Other contenders on the men's side include John Flanagan and 2007 runner-up Mark Geoghegan.
Top women's competitors include Rachel Ross, who finished second in last year's race, Sandra Ferreira (third last year) and Katherine Nichols.