HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kenyan runner and Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang was the first to finish in the Honolulu Marathon, crossing the finish line with an official time of two hours, 12 minutes and 31 seconds.
Kipsang is considered to be one of the best marathoners in the world. According to Honolulu Marathon officials, Kipsang's best time was 2:02:42, set last year in the Frankfurt Marathon in Germany. That time is just four seconds slower than the all-time world record. He also won the marathon bronze medal in the London Olympic Games this past summer.
Kipsang was the favorite to win the New York City Marathon before it was cancelled last month due to Superstorm Sandy.
The first women's finisher was Valentina Galimova of Russia, with a time of two hours 31 minutes and 23 seconds.
There were 31,083 final entries for the 40th running of the marathon, including 16,283 from Japan. Of the overall number, 25,719 people picked up their race packets during the Marathon Expo. The number was still high enough to make the Honolulu Marathon this year's second-largest in the nation, behind the Chicago Marathon.
At the first marathon in 1973, there were 162 entrants; of those, 151 finished.
Participants gathered near Ala Moana Park before dawn. "I have not run a marathon before, but I'm excited to, and I'm here with my two best friends, so we're excited to get through the marathon and see what our time is," said runner Precious Stoner.
"I just did the Xterra (race) the week before, so my legs are suffering a little bit, but it was a great race," said runner and part-time Kona resident Ellis Andrews. Even so, "I'm ready. I'm ready to go," he said.
"I've been doing this race since 1985," said runner Daniel Jesser of Kona. "Absolutely great race. It was my first one ever. So it's good to be back. I'm glad to be here for the 40th anniversary."
The race began with fireworks that lit up the sky above Ala Moana Boulevard as the runners made their way toward downtown, back toward Waikiki, to Hawaii Kai and then returned to the finish line at Kapiolani Park for the 26.2 mile race.
As for the thousands of Japanese runners, you can thank former long-distance runner and 1972 Olympic gold medal marathoner Frank Shorter. "We brought over in 1982 the first tour of Japanese runners to run in the Honolulu Marathon," he said. "A hundred-forty people. That was first. Now today, 16,200 -- you have to feel great about it."
Race officials were pleased that trade wind weather had returned in time for the race, quelling fears of muggy and voggy conditions. Shorter was impressed with the finish times, even with Hawaii's usual warmer temperatures and higher humidity. "These times, 2:12 for the men and 2:31 for the women in the marathon, 26.2 miles, in these kinds of conditions you always have in Honolulu, are unbelievable."
Official Marathon Results -- Top Finishers / Country / Official Time:
- Kipsang, Wilson / Kenya / 2:12:31
- Geneti, Markos / Ethiopia / 2:13:08
- Kimutai, Kiplimo / Kenya / 2:14:15
- Ivuti, Patrick / Kenya / 2:14:55
- Arile, Julius / Kenya / 2:15:17
- Galimova, Valentina / Russia / 2:31:23
- Girma, Woynishet / Ethiopia / 2:32:22
- Rothstein-Bruce, Stephanie / U.S.A. / 2:32:47
- Yoshida, Kaori / Japan / 2:34:01
- Makennon, Misiker / U.S.A. / 2:37:49