HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of runners took to the streets Sunday to race in the annual 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon and participants logged some impressive times.
Titus Ekiru was crowned the champion and finished the marathon in just 2:09.01, which is the second fastest time ever ran in the Honolulu race. Last year, he placed fourth.
“This year I want to come back here in Honolulu and come and try maybe I can win,” said Ekiru, who’s from Kenya. “I’m sure today I’m very happy, of course, I win Honolulu today.”
For Ekiru, having the focus and determination to win begins at the starting line.
“At the starting line, I say ‘I need to try my best and maybe I can win,’” Ekiru said. “When I see the finish line, I say ‘Wow, thank God. I reach the finish line.’”
This is his second marathon win of the year as he came in first place at a marathon in New Mexico.
“To win two races in a year is not easy. I thank God,” Ekiru said.
Leading the women racers was Vivian Jerono Kiplagat, who crossed the finish line in 11th place with a time of 2:36.22.
However, the first female finisher from Hawaii was Polina Carlson who came in 32nd place with a time of 2:53.30.
“It’s such an honor for me to finish as the first girl from Hawaii," said Carlson, who moved from Alabama to Kaneohe eight years ago. "People on the course were so supportive today and helped me to push through the hard, windy stretches.”
An added to challenge to Sunday’s race was gusty winds, which were blowing through the Hawaii Kai portion of the race.
“The wind was so strong and you feel so effortless against this wind. But it felt so nice going back toward the finishing line, when the wind was at my back.”
Donnie Cabral was the first American to cross the finish line and he came in fifth place with a time of 2:19.16. This was his first marathon and he says Honolulu is “a great spot to come for a debut.”
Cabral, who’s from Connecticut, says preparing for a marathon is different from other sports, where athletes get really hyped up before competing.
Instead, Cabral says, “You really gotta be zen before you go into it. I tried to stay light with thoughts, stay light joking around with people.”
The Honolulu Marathon also welcomes wheel chair athletes and those looking to complete a shorter milestone run in a 10K race.
Claiming the winning race time in the wheel chair race was Masazumi Soejima with a time of 1:39.12. The first place winner of the 10K run was Hilo resident Evan DeHart with at time of 33:41, which is a pace of 5:26.
Some 20,000 people from all over the world participated in the marathon, which is the fourth-largest in the United States. The course first winds through Downtown Honolulu, continues through Waikiki to east Honolulu and then wraps back around, ending at Kapiolani Park.
Nick and Wendy Cresswell traveled from New Zealand to celebrate Nick’s 50th birthday and their 25th wedding anniversary; and they decided to lace up their running shoes and join in on the 10K run fun.
“This is our Hawaii 5-0 holiday,” Nick said.
The couple regularly runs half-marathon’s back home and decided to participate in the race, which they say is really well organized.
“People [are] very friendly, everyone’s talking to each other. It’s a really nice environment,” Wendy said.
Meanwhile, ahead of the race, marathon and city officials worked to make sure the event was both enjoyable and safe for participants.
Marathon officials report there were no major safety threats, only minor health-related transports and no traffic-related incidents.
For those who are thinking about running a marathon, Cabral says you just have to go for it.
“There’s no reason that anyone who’s just beginning to think you have no potential,” Cabral said. “You never know until you really go for it and try it out.”
To see the race results, click here.