Muindi will make a run at his record
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By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writers
By Brandon Masuoka
He dominated the Honolulu Marathon last year, setting a course record in perfect weather conditions. Tomorrow, Kenya's Jimmy Muindi wants to rewrite the record books again.
"This year, my body is OK," said Muindi, a four-time Honolulu Marathon winner and two-time defending champion. "I think I'm better than last year."
Muindi and women's defending champion Lyubov Morgunova of Russia will be the favorites in tomorrow's 33rd Honolulu Marathon.
The 26.2-mile race starts at the Ala Moana-Queen Street extension at 5 a.m., goes through Hawai'i Kai, and finishes at Kapi'olani Park.
More than 26,000 participants have signed up for the race, and organizers are expecting about 28,000 by the start, which would make it the largest Honolulu Marathon since 2002.
Muindi, 32, finished last year in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 12 seconds, breaking the record by 31 seconds. He also set another record by winning his fourth Honolulu Marathon. He also won in 1999, 2000 and 2003.
As with every Honolulu Marathon, weather conditions will affect finishing times.
Partly cloudy weather and isolated showers are forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning with low temperatures from 63 to 70 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Northeast winds will be 10 to 15 mph, the weather service said.
Last year, race temperatures were in the mid-60s, humidity was around 78 percent and there was virtually no wind.
"With the conditions of the weather being good, I think something will come out of that," Muindi said. "We'll try to see if we can attempt a record again."
If Muindi wins tomorrow, he will become the first runner since Kenya's Ibrahim Hussein to win three consecutive Honolulu Marathon titles. Hussein won in 1985, 1986 and 1987.
Muindi is expected to be challenged by a strong field that includes Kenya's David Mutua and Mbarak Hussein, a former Kenyan who became a U.S. citizen before the 2004 Honolulu Marathon.
Mutua, 28, finished second last year at 2:12:53, and Hussein, 40, third at 2:14:00.
Rounding out the field are Kenyans Joseph Riri, Eric Nzioki, Soloman Wachira and Nicholus Muindi.
Riri, 32, Nzioki, 27, and Wachira, 29, are making their Honolulu debuts. Nicholus Muindi, 22, was the pace setter in last year's race and did not finish. Nicholus is the brother of Jimmy Muindi.
Jimmy Muindi said he usually gets better as the race goes on, and plans to use that to his advantage.
"My strongest part of my running is the second half," he said. "I know at that time all the guys are getting tired."
Muindi took off at the 19th mile in last year's race, recording a 4:43 mile. He ran miles 20 through 23 at an average of 4:53.
As for the women's race, defending champion Morgunova, 34, will seek her fourth title after setting a course record last year at 2:27:33, one minute faster than her previous record set in 2000. She also won in 2001.
Morgunova missed the 2003 race with an injured hip from a car accident.
She is expected to be challenged by fellow Russians Alevtina Ivanova, 30, and twins Olesya and Elena Nurgalieva, both 29.
Ivanova finished fourth last year at 2:35:48. The Nurgalievas will be running their first Honolulu Marathon.
Japan's Eri Hayakawa, 30, the 2003 winner and runner-up last year, returns for her fourth Honolulu race.
Hayakawa overcame a hard fall early in last year's race, but managed to finish despite a bruised left hip, bloody left knee and shoulder. Hayakawa was reaching for a cup of water when she fell.
"I'm more understanding of the course," Hayakawa said through interpreter Kimiko Quan. "I want to relax. I'm competing against myself, and making sure I'm running my pace and understanding my body conditions."
Hayakawa will be cheered by the strong Japanese contingent. A total of 16,293 runners from Japan were registered early this week. That figure surpassed last year's 15,723 Japan entries, and will increase as late entries arrive.
"I'm very excited," Hayakawa said of representing Japan.
Yesterday, the 5-foot, 88-pound Hayakawa was impressed by the aloha spirit after signing autographs at the Honolulu Marathon Expo at the Hawai'i Convention Center.
Majority of the autograph seekers were Hawai'i residents, Hayakawa said.
"Hopefully, I can be the little bridge between Hawai'i and Japan through the Honolulu Marathon," said Hayakawa, the first women's Honolulu Marathon winner from Japan.
Last year's race featured 25,671 entrants and 22,407 finishers.
Reach Brandon Masuoka at email@example.com.