Posted at 11:40 a.m., Friday, September 14, 2007
Maui Marathon ready to go with new director
By Robert Collias
The Maui News
There is, however, one change of significance as the Maui Marathon prepares to start its 37th annual run before dawn Sunday race director Bill Burke is settling in to his title for the first time.
Bob Craver, who ran Maui's largest road race for 12 years and oversaw the race's move from springtime to fall and the addition of the Maui Half Marathon three years ago, is done and Burke is in.
Burke comes to Maui with impressive credentials.
He owns or produces the New York City Triathlon, the Disney World Triathlon, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Trials triathlon in Honolulu, the Los Angeles Triathlon, the Toyota U.S. Open Triathlon Championships in Dallas and the Hy-Vee World Cup Triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa, that features a $700,000 purse.
It may be a new place, but this type of thing is old hat to Burke, who runs more than 20 top-flight racing events per year.
"This is actually my 30th year, I have been doing this for 30 years based out of New Orleans, Louisiana,'' Burke said to The Maui News. "I started a running event with a friend of mine in New Orleans back in 1978 called the Crescent City Classic, a 10K running event. We had 900 athletes the first year and grew that event to 34,000 six or seven years later. So, I am actually from a road-racing background.''
In January, Burke will produce the ING Miami Marathon that will have 15,000 runners.
The Maui Marathon and Maui Half Marathon will combine to be close to 3,000 runners, but Burke still has his hands full.
He was contacted by the Valley Isle Road Runners club, the owner of the Maui Marathon, after Craver's run ended last year.
"They got my name and number from the Road Runners Clubs of America and because of my work in Honolulu, I have a lot of relationships with Japan Airlines and the Japanese because they are one of my sponsors there. I have a lot of good relationships with the Hawai'i Tourism Authority, so it seemed like a pretty good fit,'' Burke said.
Burke said that while he is enjoying himself, he is also learning a lot as he goes. He had never been to Maui before taking this job last November.
"Anytime you do an event for the first time there is always unique challenges,'' he said. "I have produced over 500 events, but it is still my first time to do this event. Probably the most unique things about this event is it is a point-to-point for the marathon runners. You have to make all the arrangements to bus all the athletes out to the starting line (at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center) and having them run along the ocean to the finish line here in Ka'anapali, so that has probably been the most unique challenge.''
Burke brings one new wrinkle that should help runners for the first time, the runners will wear micro-chips. That will allow them to get their splits at the 10-kilometer, half marathon, and 30K marks as well as at the finish line.
"It is no different than starting the New York City Triathlon in Manhattan seven years ago,'' he said. "It becomes a lot easier the second and third times. The learning curve on a first-time event is huge.''
Jacob Rotich of Austin, Texas, will return to defend the crowns he won here in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Rotich the first man to win this race three times in a row is the overwhelming favorite to win the title for the fourth straight time. His best time here is the 2 hours, 27 minutes, 58 seconds he ran in 2005. He finished in 2:28:14 in 2004 and 2:33:44 last year in blistering hot conditions.
The race record is 2:19:22 set by Eddy Hellebuyck in 1999.
Rotich said a run at the record will take perfect conditions and perhaps a little help.
"(The record) was on my mind until Sunday when I had some allergy problems come up,'' Rotich said via phone yesterday before arriving today. "The weather will play a factor last year was so hot – and if I have someone to run with that would also help the pace.''
The bottom line for Burke is the breathtaking scenery that the runners will enjoy.
"This is a very unique event,'' he said. "I mean to come here to undoubtedly the most beautiful place in the world to produce an event it has a tremendous amount of charm, a tremendous amount of polish, panache, a lot of people are excited about the event. It is looked at around the world – it was chosen by Runner's World (magazine) as being the number one paradise marathon in the world. Without a doubt, who would try to even question that?
"I have spent a lot of time on O'ahu, and nobody would take away from what O'ahu has, its own beauty and splendor all its own, but this is truly a remarkable paradise.''
While he is new, Burke said the race remains largely the same. He credited Craver for the foundation that is in place and said that 18 aid stations will be at the same spots they have been in the past and the total number of volunteers will be more than 400.
"I don't think the average runner will see much of a difference in the event,'' Burke said. "It'll be interesting when the event is over to see what people felt.''
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MAUI MARATHON WEEKEND
Sports and Fitness Expo Today, 1 to 8 p.m. and tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Westin Maui Resort and Spa's Valley Isle Ballroom. The Expo is the race packet pickup location and late-race registration for the marathon, half marathon and 5K (today only for 5K packet pick up). The event features numerous sport and fitness vendors. Free and open to the public.
Maui Tacos 5K Fun Run Tomorrow, starts at 8 a.m. This 3.1-mile run/walk starts and finishes at Whalers Village in Ka'anapali.
Front Street Mile Tomorrow, starting at 3 p.m. The race starts and finishes in front of Cheeseburger in Paradise at 811 Front Street.
Maui Marathon and Maui Half Marathon Sunday, both events start at 5:30 a.m. Marathon starts at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center in Kahului and finishes at Whalers Village in Kaanapali. The half marathon out-and-back course starts near the marathon finish line in Ka'anapali and runs through Lahaina before returning to Whalers Village.