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Veteran Lyau adds hall of famer to resume


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 09, 2009

When Jon Lyau received the phone call in October from the Honolulu Marathon telling him he was going to be this year's inductee into the Hall of Fame, he thought it was a joke.

Hall of Famers, he figured, are over-the-hill, retired runners so far past their prime they don't even consider trekking the 26.2 miles. Lyau, meanwhile, is a 45-year-old who almost always stands atop the Honolulu Marathon's pedestal as the fastest runner from Hawaii. The former McKinley High distance star has won 15 of the last 16 kamaaina awards, including the last three.

With current credentials like that, Lyau reckoned there was no way he would be a Hall of Famer at this point in his amateur running career. And yet, tomorrow Lyau will be inducted into the Honolulu Marathon Hall of Fame at the Hawaii Convention Center in a ceremony open to the public.

“;Jonathan has been, and continues to be, an inspirational Honolulu Marathon champion,”; said Jim Barahal, Honolulu Marathon president.

The Hall of Fame certainly adds even more credence to Lyau's impressive resume, but he is realistic. He knows that while the expectations have increased for the newest Hall of Famer and most dominant Hawaii runner in the 37-year history of the Honolulu Marathon, his honor has been earned by what he has already accomplished.

; “;It doesn't add any pressure,”; he said. “;It's just a title. I know the (kamaaina) streak is going to stop permanently, and I don't know when it's going to come. If it happens this year, it'll happen this year.

“;I'll still continue to run the Honolulu Marathon whether I have the title or not.”;

Lyau began running the Honolulu Marathon in 1979 as a sophomore at McKinley. He joined the cross country team on a whim, deciding that the training might help him stay in shape for basketball and baseball.

Once he started running, though, he never returned to the other sports, a self-professed victim of “;the running bug.”; He has run in every Honolulu Marathon since he graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1986, and he has since competed in marathons in Chicago, Boston, California and New Zealand.

“;Initially it was because I found that I was pretty good at it, and I wanted to see how I could improve,”; he said. “;The more I did it, it became kind of fun. I don't mind running by myself. I look forward to the running. It clears my mind. I think of a lot of things. It relieves stress, relaxes me at the end of the day. When I finish running, I feel good. I feel like I worked out. To me, it was a healthy lifestyle.”;

The healthy lifestyle led to a kamaaina streak that started in 1993 and continued for 12 years — with a personal best of 2 hours, 36 minutes, 56 seconds in 2002 — until Duncan Macdonald stopped Lyau's domination in 2005. Macdonald, an Olympian in the 5,000 meters in 1976 and the winner of the inaugural Honolulu Marathon in 1973, passed Lyau with about 5 miles remaining to pull away for the win.

That “;unlucky 13”; loss ended Lyau's reign, but he has since regained his title with the last three wins, though each of those times were slower than the year he lost to Macdonald. He won last year in 2:52:33, his slowest kamaaina-winning time ever.

Lyau has maintained a weekly training regimen of 65-70 miles because it provides a welcome respite to the stresses of raising two small children and as vice president of his family's candy distributing business, A.C. Lyau Co. But he recognizes that it is getting harder as the years go by.

“;There's a lot of younger guys who are catching up,”; Lyau said, “;so I don't expect to have this streak going for another 12 more years.”;

But that doesn't mean this local champ is ready to give up his crown just yet.