Saturday, December 12, 1998
comes down to
split second finish
Kenyan, KyrgystaniSunday, December 13, 1998
top marathon fields
By Pat Bigold
Kenya's Mbarak Hussein won one for his brother, and Kyrgystan's Irina Bogacheva avenged an emotional loss.
Hussein, younger brother of three-time champion Ibrahim Hussein (1985-87), captured the men's division in a thrilling sprint finish in the 26th Honolulu Marathon yesterday in 76 percent humidity.
It was the closest finish in the history of the Honolulu Marathon. The 31-year-old Hussein finished in 2:14:53, a mere two steps ahead of two-time defending champion Erick Kimaiyo of Kenya.
Kimaiyo was also recorded in 2:14:53 because, unlike track timing, marathon finishes are not read out to fractions of a second. Marathons usually just don't get this close.
"The last few miles, the last 100 meters, I was thinking that my brother would say I can't lose the race," said Hussein.
He called his elder brother, who is now 40 and working for the Kenyan sports federation, as soon as he got back to his hotel.
"I told him how close it was and he was happy for me," said Mbarak Hussein. Ibrahim Hussein can relate to close finishes because in 1988 he won the closest finish in the 102-year history of the Boston Marathon. He beat Juma Ikangaa by one second -- 2:08:43 to 2:08:44.
Meanwhile, Bogacheva, a 37-year-old physical education teacher who was second last year after a brief physical tussle on the course with 1997 winner Svetlana Zhakarova of Russia, ran away with the women's crown.
Bogacheva clocked in at 2:33:27 and Zhakarova, who was never a major factor this time, finished second three minutes and 17 seconds later.
A pack of six women that stayed intact until the sixth mile dwindled to Bogacheva, Russian Elena Razdroguina and Zhakarova (who used her maiden name of Vasilieva last year) by the seventh mile. Razdroguina surged into the lead at 16 miles and Zhakarova dropped off the pace.
But Bogacheva responded by methodically overtaking Razdroguina by the 17th mile. From there, it was a rout as Bogacheva blasted through the next two miles in 11 minutes and 24 seconds and ended all doubt.
Some observers said that Bogacheva's anger during the late stages of last year's race might have expended the energy she needed to win. Zhakarova had trailed extremely close behind Bogacheva through most of last year's race and visibly annoyed her with the tactic. The two made physical contact at about the time that Zhakarova moved into the lead.
"That is over," said Bogacheva yesterday. "Sport is sport."
In a dramatic gesture signalling the public end of their very public feud last year, Bogacheva and Zhakarova sought each other out after finishing and warmly embraced, almost tearfully, in the VIP tent.
Hussein and Kimaiyo came off Diamond Head alone after dropping fellow Kenyan Jimmy Muindi off the pace just before Poni Moi Drive.
The two men battled side by side until Kimaiyo surged slightly ahead at Kaimana Beach. But Hussein refused to wilt and 20 yards from the finish summoned everything he had to bolt ahead in a near photo finish.
The top local men finishers were Gustavo Varela and Jonathan Lyau of Honolulu who held hands coming across. Nonetheless, Varela was clocked in 2:37:24, one second ahead of Lyau.
The top local woman finisher was 35-year-old Cynthia Schnack of Honolulu, who finished in 2:58:16.
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Experience on Honolulu'sSaturday, December 12, 1998
unique course might be telling
in tomorrow's marathon
By Pat Bigold
There seems to be little doubt that the winner of tomorrow's men's race in the 26th Honolulu Marathon will come from among last year's top three finishers.
Two-time defending champion Erick Kimaiyo, two-time runner-up Jimmy Muindi (both Kenyans), and third-place finisher Thabiso Moqhali of Lesotho have a wealth of experience on the uniquely challenging Honolulu course.
Kimaiyo is entering his third Honolulu Marathon while Muindi and Moqhali are both entering their fifth.
They run well here.
And that's a quality Dr. Jim Barahal, the marathon association's president, said is at a premium among world class marathoners.
Marathoners with glittering credentials like three-time Boston Marathon winner Cosmas Ndeti and former world record holder Steve Jones of England were not able to register a win here.
"Running well on this course is not an exact science," said Barahal. ''That's because of the heat and other factors. So, when we have someone who is not afraid to run fast here, we like to keep inviting them back."
British sports agent Zane Branson, who represents Muindi, agrees that winning here takes more than just conditioning.
''Honolulu is a special race and the people who cope best with the elements win," he said. ''Actually, the smartest athletes are the ones who win here -- the ones who make the right decisions at strategic points."
Tony Longhurst of South Africa, agent for Moqhali, said the halfway juncture of the race is critical, and surviving the buffeting winds of Kalanianaole Highway favors the Honolulu veterans.
''If it gets windy at the turning point of the race (Hawaii Kai), it will fall to the experienced runners," he said.
The fast pace that 1997's top three are expected to set tomorrow will be aided by the fact that sunrise doesn't occur until about 7 a.m. -- about two hours into the race.
Alberto Salazar, the last American to hold a marathon world record, said conditions this weekend seem to be the coolest he can remember leading up to the race.
That's another factor that will help quicken the pace.
Despite his success here, the 30-year-old Kimaiyo has not finished a marathon in 1998 and his rivals say they don't know what to expect from him this year. He dropped out of the Rotterdam Marathon earlier this year.
Bib # 1: Erick Kimaiyo, Kenya, age 30 ... 2-time defending Honolulu champion ... Won here in 1997 in 2:12:17 (record for revised course) ... Personal best: 2:07:43 (Berlin, 1997) ... No marath finishes in 1998.
The top men
Bib # 2: Jimmy Muindi, Kenya, age 24 ... 5th attempt in Honolulu. Runner-up 1996, 1997. 3rd in 1995. 4th in 1994 ... Personal best: 2:12:50 (Honolulu, 1997) ... Best marathon of 1998: Belgrade, 2nd, 2:13:03 ... Owns 10-k time of 27:15.
Bib # 5: Thabiso Moqhali, Lesotho, age 28 ... 5th attempt in Honolulu. 3rd in 1997. 4th in 1996. 8th in 1995. 2nd in 1994 ... Personal best: 2:10:55 (London, 1992) ... 1998 Commonwealth Games marathon gold medalist.
Bib # 7: Mbarak Hussein, Kenya, age 31... 4th attempt in Honolulu. 5th in 1997, 1994 ... Personal best: 2:14:27 (Honolulu, 1994) ... Brother of 3-time Honolulu champ Ibrahim Hussein (1985-7).
Bib # 9: Patrick Muturi, Kenya, age 25 ... Personal best: 2:08:59 (Chicago, 1997) ... Best 1998 showing: 1:04:18, 2nd place, San Blas Half Marathon.
But Muindi and Moqhali are likely to keep a close eye on his movements in the early part of the race tomorrow to determine how to play him.
Kimaiyo has won here in remarkable fashion the past two years.
In 1997, he broke away from Muindi in a stretch between the 23rd and 24th miles, where the course rises from 10 to 100 feet above sea level at the Diamond Head Lookout. Kimaiyo sped up to complete the next mile in 4 minutes and 40 seconds and clinch it in 2:12:17.
In 1996, Kimaiyo did it by stringing together seven straight mile splits of 4 minutes and 49 seconds or less between the 16th and the23rd mile. His finishing time was 2:13:23.
Kimaiyo is enlisted in the military and hails from a high-elevation village called Kapsait. As a boy, the Kalenjine tribesman ran in bare feet to and from school and the market.
''Now I have a car but as a boy I run or walk everywhere," he said. ''Our car was a donkey."
Kimaiyo, who didn't actually begin competitive racing until 1992, said that he is helping his father educate his 12 brothers. He also has four sisters.
Muindi, the promising 24-year-old member of the coastal-dwelling Machakus tribe, has yet to win a major marathon but has finished second several times. He said he will not let Kimaiyo break away.
''I'm ready to do something different," he said. ''I have been doing more speed work."
Muindi lost the Belgrade Marathon by two seconds in April (2:13:03).
Moqhali won the Commonwealth Games marathon (2:19:15) in sizzling hot Kuala Lumpur in September. Being able to finish with a win this year in high temperatures will obviously be in his favor tomorrow.
''The heat here cannot equal the heat in Malaysia," said Moqhali. "So, it will be much more comfortable for me."
Last year, Muindi overtook Moqhali after Kimaiyo made his break on Diamond Head. He finished in 2:13:11.
Another Kenyan veteran of the Honolulu course has to be considered a dark horse. Mbarak Hussein, 31-year-old brother of three-time winner Ibrahim Hussein (1985-87), is entering his fourth Honolulu Marathon. His best time here was 2:14:27.
Patrick Muturi, a 25-year-old Kenyan, clocked 2:08:59 in the 1997 Chicago Marathon but sources say he is not in condition to win tomorrow.
FOOTNOTES: Kenyans have captured the men's race eight times since 1985 ... Kimaiyo's winning time last year was a record for the course that was revised in 1992 ... The total of Japanese entries stood at 13,654 yesterday. That is 50.4 percent of the field. Last year's Japanese entry total was 17,952. In 1995, before the Japanese economy took a nosedive, there were 21,717 Japanese entries. They accounted for 63.07 percent of the field ... Ron and Jeanette Chun were inducted into the Honolulu Marathon Association Hall of Fame at Thursday night's banquet. Jeanette, the secretary/treasurer of the association, and Ron, the vice-president and director of planning, engineering and operations, have been working on the nuts and bolts of the marathon for 21 years.
26th Honolulu MarathonRace begins: Tomorrow, 5 a.m.
Start: Ala Moana Blvd. and Queen St. Extension
Finish: Kapiolani Park
Radio: KGU-AM 760, 4:45 a.m
Entries: 27,112 (as of yesterday):
Local: 8,747 (32.3%);
Japanese: 13,654 (50.4%)
Mainland: 3,921 (14.5%)
Other foreign: 790 (2.9%)
Men's/Women's Prize structure:
First: $15,000 ($5,000 bonus for course record);