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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, December 13, 2004

Run to perfection

Kenya's Jimmy Muindi beat the race and course records en route to a record fourth victory in the Honolulu Marathon. Muindi finished in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 12 seconds.

Andrew Shimabuku • The Honolulu Advertiser

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Kenyan's strategy pays off in historic 4th win

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Spurred by the pursuit of one record, Jimmy Muindi made history in more than one way yesterday.

Muindi won a record-setting fourth Honolulu Marathon, in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 12 seconds, shattering the race record by 31 seconds.

"I need to think not about winning, but about the course record," said Muindi, who also broke the course record of 2:12:17 set in 1997. "Last year I was thinking about winning, but this year, the record. Because if you set the course record, you win."

Muindi, who is from Kenya, defended his 2003 title, earning $15,000 for the win, $10,000 for setting the race record, $5,000 for the course record, and $5,000 for running a sub-2:12:00 race.

David Mutua, Muindi's training partner, finished second in 2:12:52. Mbarak Hussein, a three-time Honolulu Marathon champion, was third in 2:14:00.

The 26.2-mile race began at Ala Moana and the Queen Street extension, headed out to Hawai'i Kai and finished at Kapi'olani Park, with 22,388 of the 22,686 participants finishing the race.

Muindi broke the race record set by Ibrahim Hussein, older brother of Mbarak, of 2:11:43 in 1986.

"We had wondered for a number of years if we would ever see it (the record) be broken," Honolulu Marathon president Dr. Jim Barahal said, comparing the record to baseball player Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.

"We're glad this proves it doesn't take a super human and a super-human effort on a once-in-a-lifetime race."

Barahal said the course currently used is more difficult because of the uphill climb at Diamond Head in the latter part of the race. The route was changed in 1992 because of a bottleneck in the Kahala area.

Jimmy Muindi (1) keeps pace with fellow Kenyans Mathew Sigei (5), David Matua (4), Mbarak Hussein (2) and Ethiopia's Gudisa Shentema (7) on Kalaniana'ole Highway.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

"I thought the weather today was conducive to a record-setting day," Barahal said.

Russia's Lyubov Morgunova also set a record in the women's race, running 2:27:33.

Muindi took advantage of the cool temperatures in the upper-60s and a lack of wind — it was so still the leaves on trees weren't moving — in ideal running weather.

"(Saturday), the weather was good," Muindi, 31, said. "We sat down, David (Mutua), my brother, and my coach, and we planned, that this was the day to break the record."

With Muindi's brother, Nicholus, serving as the rabbit, or pacesetter, the lead pack of six started at a near-record pace, hitting the half-way point in 1:06:00.

It was the first time the Muindi brothers ran in the same race, and the first time Nicholus served as a rabbit. It allowed for some strategy for the brothers and Mafua, who train together and had planned how fast to run each split in order to set the record.

"I told (Nicholus), 'If you see me wanting to pass you, you know you're going too slow,' " Jimmy Muindi said.

Early on, Kenya's Boniface Usisivu pushed the pace, often vying with Nicholus Muindi for the lead.

It didn't affect Jimmy Muindi, who ran a strategically different race.

"I know this course very much," Jimmy Muindi said. "(Usisivu) was pushing very hard, but he got tired."

Muindi chose to run on the outskirts of the pack, giving himself some distance.

"I like running my own race," he said. "I listen to them, to their stepping and their breathing, and I don't like them to listen to me."

Muindi also chose to run closer to the turns, especially those early in the race, around downtown, Diamond Head, and Kahala.

"I normally recover a lot of seconds, which becomes a minute," he said.

With no wind to hold back the competitors on the return trip, the runners were free to pick up the pace.

"The other years, I was scared, because if you go ahead, you go too slow," Muindi said.

But Muindi didn't have that trouble yesterday, and was able to create some separation from the pack of Mutua, Hussein, Matthew Sigei of Kenya, Usisivu, and Gudisa Shentema of Ethiopia.

"I knew in time I was going to make a move and no one would catch up," Muindi said.

At the 19th mile, Muindi took off, running a 4:43 mile. Running alone, he ran miles 20 through 23 at an average 4:53 pace.

He slowed as he approached the 24th and 25th miles, which come with a slight climb up Diamond Head Road.

By the time he made the final descent — cheered on by hundreds of runners still in the initial stages of the run — Muindi had the record well in hand.

In the battle for second place, Mutua broke away from Sigei and Usisivu, who fell about 30 seconds behind as Muindi picked up the pace around the 19-mile mark.

"When he was kicking, he told me, 'Follow me,' " Mutua said. "I saw other guys getting tired. I kicked, and they dropped. So, I followed Jimmy. I know how he runs, and I followed him."

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2457.

• • •

32nd Honolulu Marathon

Distance: 26.2 miles

Start at Ala Moana Boulevard/Queen Street extension; finish at Kapi'olani Park

2004 entries: 25,671

2004 starters: 22,686

2004 finishers: 22,388

Men's winner: Jimmy Muindi, Kenya, 2 hours, 11 minutes, 12 seconds (race, course record)

Women's winner: Lyubov Morgunova, Russia, 2 hours, 27 minutes, 33 seconds (course record)

Web site: www.honolulumarathon.com

• • •

Russia's Lyubov Morgunova beat last year's champion, Eri Hayakawa of Japan, by 38 seconds and broke her own course record in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 33 seconds.

Andrew Shimabuku • The Honolulu Advertiser

 •  Kenyan's strategy pays off in historic 4th win

Russian breaks own mark in 'huge victory'

By Oscar A. Hernandez,
Special to The Advertiser

It was a perfect day for a perfect race.

Russia's Lyubov Morgunova, 33, planned to do away with her competition right from the start of yesterday's 32nd annual Honolulu Marathon. Perfect weather conditions set the stage for her to also do away with the course record she set in 2000.

With a blistering pace that averaged 5 minutes, 37 seconds per mile, Morgunova hammered the 26.2-mile course, knocking exactly one minute off her record of 2:28:33 as she broke the tape in 2:27:33.

An emotional Morgunova said her third Honolulu Marathon win "was a huge victory for me ... I'm so happy I cannot hold my tears."

Last year's champion, Japan's Eri Hayakawa, 23, despite an early mishap, finished 38 seconds behind Morgunova, clinching second place in 2:28:11.

"My strategy was to start strong and maintain it," Morgunova said through an interpreter. Morgunova and Hayakawa took an early lead, right behind designated pacesetter, Olga Romanova, 24, of Russia.

By the time Romanova dropped out at the halfway mark at 1:13:40, Morgunova began taking a commanding lead with Hayakawa 42 seconds behind.

Japan's Eri Hayakawa, who was the second woman finisher, is assisted after the race. Hayakawa suffered a bruised hip and injured her left knee and shoulder when she tumbled early in the race.

Oscar A. Hernandez • Special to The Advertiser

Bolstered by perfect conditions — temperatures in the mid-60s, humidity around 78 percent and virtually no wind —Morgunova and Hayakawa remained on record-setting pace. It was an amazing accomplishment for Morgunova, who has not participated in any road races since September 2003 when she won the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

After her record-setting performance in Honolulu in 2000, Morgunova returned to the Islands in 2001 for her second victory here. She took time off to have a baby in 2002.

Last December in Moscow, on her way to Honolulu, Morgunova's car was struck by another driver. No one was seriously injured but Morgunova suffered an injured hip and never made it to the Honolulu Marathon in which Hayakawa became the first Japan woman to win.

Hayakawa's runner-up finish yesterday was also a personal triumph. At about the four-mile mark in front the Renaissance Ilikai Hotel where, ironically, Hayakawa was staying, the 86-pound runner took a hard tumble to the asphalt as she reached for a cup of water from a volunteer. With a badly bruised left hip, bloody left knee and shoulder, Hayakawa swiftly recovered from her fall to stay with Romanova and Morgunova.

"When it happened, it was like I was falling in slow motion," Hayakawa said through an interpreter. "I felt a moment of discouragement but when I saw my coach (Susumu Nakajima) I told myself 'I have to (finish).' "

Her injuries required medical attention at the finish line.

Hayakawa may have felt as if her fall had been in slow motion, but her recovery was anything but, as she also finished the race in record time. If she had won, she would have claimed a course record by 22 seconds.

After Hayakawa, the Russians also dominated. Along with Morgunova, four other Russians led the way. Last year's runner-up, Albina Ivanova, 27, placed third in 2:32:44. Alevtina Ivanova, 29, (no relation to Albina), was fourth in 2:35:48, and Tatyana Petrova, 21, came in fifth in 2:36:34.

Morgunova's record-setting victory earned her $42,000. Hayakawa took home $18,000.