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Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, March 6, 2000

H A W A I I _R U N N I N G

Christensen tops
winner’s list for
Hawaii Women’s 10K run

By Linda Aragon
Special to the Star-Bulletin


For an event that has attracted a loyal returning crowd, the top honors in yesterday's 23rd Straub Hawaii Women's 10K Run went to three race newcomers.

Hawaii Pacific runner Nina Christensen won the 6.2 mile-event, crossing the Kapiolani Park finish line with a time of 36 minutes, 26 seconds.

Christensen, from Denmark, finished nearly a half-mile ahead of her nearest competitor. Placing second was Cathy Wellman (39:09) and third was Rani Tanimoto (39:29), both from the Big Island.

Christensen, a member of the HPU cross-country team, moved to Hawaii last September, and has since been winning the women's division of many races. This was her first entry in the all-women's race that begins and finishes at Kapiolani Park.

"I practice around Diamond Head, so I am familiar with the course,'' Christensen said. "I liked the whole thing and they have great prizes. What more can I say? It was just my day."

Christensen did not come close to the course record of 34:40, set by Marty Shue in 1998.

"It was a great race," said Wellman. "I started out in eighth place and slowly worked to the front of the field. I didn't take second place until I passed the four mile mark, and then I was just holding on until the end."

Wellman, a 31-year-old physical therapist from Waikoloa, said because of work commitments, she has not been able to train as much lately.

Nevertheless, yesterday was worth the trip over from the Big Island.

"I was really impressed to see this many women at this race,'' she said. "The support was so nice form the other women cheering you on. And to win a bowl from Tiffany's, two inter-island round-trip airfares and be given roses at the finish, how special."

"It was awesome,'' said Tanimoto, a 24-year-old Kealakekua resident. "I just started running a little under two years ago."

Tanimoto finished eighth in the women's division of the Great Aloha Run. She is content with her accomplishments so far this year.

"Now I know running is my passion,'' she said.

Fourth place went to Rachel Portner, a two-time winner of the event (1984 and 1987). The 46-year-old finished in 39:41.

Even those women not vying for the top spots sprinted the last quarter-mile to the finish line. Most were trying to make the finish times they had set on their mental watches.

"I saw the 45 minutes (on the finish line timer)," said Hina Torres. "And I was trying to get that. But right when I was coming across the finish line it turned to 46 (minutes)."

Torres, 32, and a mother of a 10-month-old baby, said she had planned to take it easy since taking some time off running.

"But then I started to feel good out there," she said. "And it usually rains. This was the first-time we had sunshine in a long time.''

Monique Mata, a 20-year-old Chaminade cross-country runner took fifth place yesterday.

"It was a nice day today, not too windy," she said. "I knew who the competition was, and I was with Christensen at the start. But then she just took off."

Participants in yesterday's race ranged from 6- to 86-years-old.

Running buddies Francine Summers and Allison Math were happy that they completed the entire course.

"The most we ever ran at one time was four miles,'' said Summers. "So were proud of ourselves that we did six."

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