WHEN I saw yesterday that Carole Kai was claiming the Great Aloha run is the nation's 10th largest foot race, I gritted my teeth.
Aloha Run still
She obviously doesn't care if she passes on grossly inaccurate data about her race. Nor does she seem willing to correct the event's most basic shortcomings after all these years.
Basil Honikman, USA Track and Field's records committee chairman, confirmed yesterday that Kai's race was actually America's 21st largest.
The Race For The Cure (proceeds to breast cancer research), which was held in Portland, Oregon, in September, was No. 10 in size. It had 20,843 official finishers.
The organizers of the Portland event made the effort to collect accurate data and report it to USATF in a verifiable fashion.
That's something the Great Aloha Run's organizers have not done to the satisfaction of USATF over the years.
Race rankings are based on finishing totals, not registration totals.
I tried in vain last night to get a finishing figure from the great Aloha Run. As usual, only an ''estimate" of how many showed up to run was offered at race time. ''About 22,000" was what the press was told this year. (About 6,700 of that number were reportedly military personnel running in formation. USATF does not recognize them in the finishing total.)
I also looked to see if at least the top 100 finishers had arrived by fax last night for us to print. We received nothing.
WHY is it that by late afternoon or early evening of the 26th Honolulu Marathon last December, we knew there were 22,050 finishers (soon updated to 22,112) from a starting field of 27,701.
Heck, there were town-by-town, state-by-state, country-by-country and other breakdowns available the same day the marathon was run. We just want to know how many finished. Not an estimate. An accurate figure. Too hard?
And the people -- the ordinary runners who paid to run -- want to know their official times.
The Honolulu Marathon makes the official times of all of its finishers available in a booklet that can be purchased the next morning. Those same results are also available for free at http://www.honolulumarathon.org. Check it out.
I looked at http://www.greataloharun.com last night and know what I found? A welcome letter from a smiling Kai, whose first name is misspelled on the home page. No results.
U.S. Olympic marathoner Linda Sommers Smith, who said she was brought in by Marty Liquori Productions because the race lacked an elite female presence, was surprised by the absence of mile markers.
She was also surprised when she couldn't get the direction she needed approaching Aloha Stadium. She went off course and lost 20 seconds finding her way back.
I wonder how many times this has happened to winners.
I recall Ethiopian men's winner Tesfaye Bekele in 1997 telling me he had a hard time finding the right route to the finish. How can they not correct this problem?
At least the police escort for the leaders arrived this year. In 1997, they ran unescorted.
Sommers Smith said she enjoyed the paid vacation she got from being brought in as the race's token elite female. I'm glad for her, because there's no prize money for the winner.
But it's a shame that the Great Aloha Run was more interested in creating the perception that the race can attract a top woman athlete than in creating a genuinely competitive women's race.
They actually want us to think it was Sommers Smith's own idea to come here. Hardly.
And, by the way, Marty Liquori Productions gets paid by the race to tape, and then ESPN is paid to air it. That's how it works with most races other than the heavily televised Boston Marathon.
No media is rushing over here to cover the Great Aloha Run. It still lacks focus, data and organization.
Pat Bigold has covered sports for daily newspapers
in Hawaii and Massachusetts since 1978.