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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 10, 2001

Kenya's Hussein Marathon champ

 •  Challenge, triumph ignite 2001 marathon
 •  Russian women dominate, finishing 1-2-3
 •  Schabort uses mental edge for fourth consecutive title
 •  Jackson surprises self in fast start
 •  Age group winners
See video of the top men and women finishers

By Mike Tymn
Special to The Advertiser

Twenty-three miles into the Honolulu Marathon yesterday morning, four Africans matched strides while running abreast of each other.

After finishing third the past two years, Kenya's Mbarak Hussein won his second Honolulu Marathon in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 9 seconds. He also won in '98.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Three had their eyes fixed far ahead, their heads slightly tilted back, their necks stretched, as if they were wondering if the race would ever finish. You could see bits of anguish and doubt in their eyes. Their forms had lost some of the earlier rhythm.

But Mbarak Hussein of Kenya, the 1998 champion, had his eyes fixed on the road about 10 feet in front of him. He appeared focused, calm and confident. His gait was steady and smooth. Hussein would then begin to push the pace, covering the 24th mile in 4 minutes, 55 seconds.

Hussein, the 36-year-old younger brother of three-time winner Ibrahim Hussein (1985-1987), continued on to a 20-second victory while clocking 2 hours, 15 minutes, 9 seconds for the 26.2-mile race.

During the 24th mile, fellow Kenyan Eliud Kering, last year's runner-up, was first to surrender, quickly losing contact with the other three. Defending champion Jimmy Muindi, also of Kenya, and Moges Taye of Ethiopia were clearly struggling and began to lose contact with Hussein as they ran up Diamond Head Road, Honolulu's version of Boston's "Heartbreak Hill."

Taye, 28, won the battle for second, finishing 10 seconds ahead of Muindi, 29. Kering, 27, finished a distant fourth, while Shinji Kawashima, 35, of Japan, took fifth, the final prize-money spot, another 1:25 behind.

"I felt strong the whole way," said Hussein, who lives and trains in Albuquerque, N.M. "I pushed it after mile 23 and when they didn't come with me I began to feel confident."

After winning the 1998 Honolulu Marathon in 2:14:53, Hussein finished third behind Muindi the past two years.

The women's race was won by defending champion Lyubov Morgunova, 30, of Russia in 2:29:54. Svetlana Zakharova, 31, also of Russia, was runner-up, 44 seconds back. Another Russian, Elena Paramonova, 39, took third, Franca Fiacconi, 36, of Italy, fourth, and Mari Tanigawa, 39, of Japan, fifth.

Moges Taye of Ethopia checks his time after finishing second, 20 seconds behind Mbarak Hussein in the Honolulu Marathon.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

A total of 19,499 of the 23,513 registered runners, joggers, and walkers, started the 29th annual Honolulu Marathon under dark and cloudy skies at 5 a.m. on Ala Moana near the 'Ewa end of Ala Moana Beach Park. It had been raining off and on until a few minutes before the start and while the streets were still damp there would be no further rain, at least for the leaders.

Heading toward downtown, Kawashima rushed to an early lead, covering the first mile in 5:00 as a pack of seven African runners trailed by 20 seconds. However, Kawashima was reeled in by the others before the end of the second mile, reached in 10:22.

Kawashima, Hussein, Taye, Muindi, Kering, Simon Chemoiywo of Kenya, Josia Thungwane of Ethiopia and Sivuyile Ndwembini of Ethiopia continued to run together as they reached the five-mile mark in Waikiki in 25:41 and the 10-kilometer mark on Monsarrat Avenue by Kapi'olani Park in 31:42. On the eighth mile, the climb up Diamond Head Road, Kawashima suddenly disappeared, leaving the seven African runners to share the lead.

"We should definitely see some racing today," said Honolulu Marathon president Jim Barahal on one of the lead vehicles.

Due to strong head winds, the pace dropped off considerably after the runners exited Kahala and headed toward Hawai'i Kai on Kalaniana'ole Highway.

The pack of seven reached the half-way point in 1:08:07. "I knew then we were not going to have a fast time," Hussein said, "but I knew we would be faster coming back (on Kalaniana'ole Highway) because the wind would be behind us."

Barahal mentioned that the conditions favored Thungwane, the 1996 Olympic marathon champion, as his record seemed to indicate that he ran best when the conditions were unfavorable. But Thungwane was not with the leaders when they left Hawai'i Kai for the return trip to the finish line at Kapi'olani Park. He had apparently dropped out of the race.

Eliud Kering of Kenya gets assistance after his fourth-place finish. Kering finished in 2 hours, 18 minutes.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

At 16 miles, there were six runners in the pack as Muindi set the pace, a half-stride in front of the others. "He (Muindi) appears to be in control," said Alberto Salazar, a former Olympic marathoner for the United States, who observed from the lead vehicle.

Barahal and Salazar agreed that Muindi would likely win the race for the third time. Ndwembini and Chemoiywo soon began to struggle and fall behind. It was then a four-man race through Kahala before Hussein started to pull away.

"I was surprised that Jimmy (Muindi) did not come with me," said Hussein. "He is a strong finisher and I knew something must be wrong with him."

Muindi said he began vomiting on the 15th mile but was able to overcome that in a mile or so. "I was fresh again, but the last three miles I was really hurting," he said.

With a mile to go, Hussein, who finished fifth in this year's Boston Marathon, looked back to see where his competition was. He looked again and again over the next several hundred yards. "I did not know I had that much of a lead and could not see them at first," Hussein said.

Hussein was anxious to get back to his hotel and phone his brother in Kenya to tell him of his victory, which earned him the $15,000 first-place prize money as well as a $1,000 time incentive bonus for running under 2:18. Taye collected $8,000 in prize money and a $1,000 time-incentive bonus. Muindi was rewarded with $6,000, while $3,000 went to Kering and $1,500 to Kawashima.

Hussein and Muindi said they will now prepare for the Boston Marathon in April.

The first masters (40-over) runner was 52-year-old Yoshihisa Hosaka of Japan, who finished 20th overall in 2:38:43.

A total of 19,236 finished the marathon, making it the third largest in the United States, according to Honolulu Marathon spokesman Pat Bigold.