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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hawai'i runners embrace experience

 •  Kenyans sweep titles; Americans make run

Advertiser Staff

Imagine Tim Noonan's surprise upon getting beat by two runners juggling bean-bag balls at the Boston Marathon yesterday.

"These two guys were racing for the world record in marathon juggling," said the 36-year-old Waimanalo resident who finished the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours, 8 minutes and 18 seconds. "They wanted to break three hours. I said they can't beat me. They passed me in the last mile."

The 110th Boston Marathon the world's oldest and most prestigious marathon made for interesting stories from Hawai'i runners. A record 60 Hawai'i runners entered the Boston Marathon and 48 finished yesterday. Last year, 54 Hawai'i runners were entered.

Honolulu's Casper Dahl, 25, was the first Hawai'i runner to finish. Dahl, an exchange student at Hawai'i Pacific University from Denmark, finished in 2:35:25 and was 78th overall.

Other top Hawai'i finishers were Joseph Alueta, 38, of Maui, at 2:41:54 and Lyman Perry, 39, of Volcano, Hawai'i, at 2:54:01. Rachel Ross, 29, was the first female finisher from Hawai'i at 3:04:56.

Alueta nearly missed the race when he got lost on a train and missed his bus to the starting point in Hopkinton. He and another runner who had overslept hitched a ride from a photographer, reaching the starting line about 1 hour and 30 minutes before the race.

The photographer "drove us out in his Lexus," said Alueta, who gave the photographer a jar of chocolate covered macadamia nuts. "It worked out extremely well. It was the closest I've ever come to missing a race."

Honolulu Marathon women's winner Olesya Nurgalieva of Russia finished ninth among women and 49th overall. Her time was 2:30:16. She won the Honolulu Marathon in 2:30:24.

"It's really a downhill race," said Alueta, who drew comparisons to the 10-mile Great Trans Koolau Trek on the H-3 Freeway in 1997. "It's a deceiving downhill.

"Your quads are screaming because you're just pounding your legs," Alueta said. "I don't know what the theory is run faster and not hold back, or what. But I felt strong at the end. I really picked it up in the last four miles."

Thousands of spectators lined the course, cheering on the runners. Wellesley College, which is near the marathon's halfway point, had an enthusiastic crowd.

"The crowds were just awesome," said Mike Kasamoto, 57, of Honolulu, who finished in 3:38:49. "The Wellesley girls were just screaming their heads off."

"It's like a football game, all you hear are screams," added Waipahu's Carole Ann Higa, 44, who finished in 4:04:36. "The kids give you high fives. The residents offer bottled water and brownies. That, in itself, was so motivating. It was unbelieveable."

Many Hawai'i runners had no problem with the cool weather. Starting temperature for the noon race was 53 degrees. It was the coolest day for a Boston Marathon in four years.

"I ran with no shirt, with gloves and a cap," Alueta said. "That seemed to suit me. It was a little chillier than what I liked. It was a little windy, but not too bad."

For the first time, the Boston Marathon started runners in two waves. The first 10,000 with the fastest qualifying times started at noon with the rest at 12:30 p.m.

"For us in the back of the pack, it reduced the crush," said Kit Smith, 71, who finished in 3:56:00, the seventh best in his age group. "(It was nice) to run freely without congestion."

Before the race, dozens of Hawai'i runners gathered at Pete Thalman's "Hawai'i House," a Greek revival-style mansion where Hawai'i participants go to relax.

Thalman's mansion is about 200 yards from the starting line and borders the starting chutes.

"The camaraderie was high," Smith said. "We had a feeling of team participation and I enjoyed the sense of team."

Advertiser staff writers Brandon Masuoka and Leila Wai and sports editor Curtis Murayama contributed to this report.

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