More than 250 Big Island residents will be lacing up their shoes on Sunday, Dec. 12, for the Annual running of the Honolulu Marathon.
With an estimated field of 25,000 the Honolulu Marathon ranks as one of the top ten largest marathons in the world. The economic value to the state exceeds $100 million and ranks this marathon as the largest financial sporting event in the State of Hawaii far exceeding the revenue brought in by the Pro Bowl or by the Professional Golf Association.
Each year Big Island residents will train for the event before making the pilgrimage to Oahu to run the 26.2 mile course along with some of the world’s fastest distance runners.
In Hilo a small contingent of medical professionals have been doing a long Sunday run together in preparation for Honolulu.
Led by veteran marathoner, Hilo Internist, Dr. Aaron Morita who will be doing his 11th consecutive Honolulu Marathon, the group is a mixture of experienced and first time distance runners.
“Those in our group that run with us regularly are doctor’s Melanie Arakaki, Sara Chiu, and David Nakamura with registered nurses Imelda Tamayo, Noemi Arzaga, Gina Durant and Jennifer Maninga, along with recovery room technician Dave Adachi and Ululani Pharmacy office manager Cindy Kuwana, ” Doc Morita said.
Morita will also meet up with a number of family members and friends in Honolulu, most of whom are in the medical field as well, making their group one of the largest, or at the very least one of the most educated in the marathon.
“We are planning an after marathon dinner at the Big City Diner in Kaimuki together with our supporters, friends and relatives,” Morita said.
Morita’s group just finished doing a 20 mile run on Sunday, Nov. 28, and the plan now is for all of them to begin their taper, decrease in mileage, before heading to Oahu and the excitement of doing one of the world’s largest marathons.
Cindy Kuwana trained with the group last year, but never realized her dream of doing her first marathon as she needed to stop training due to an injury.
“I’ve been training this entire year, with 17 miles being my longest run thus far,” Kuwana said. “Since being in a side-impact automobile accident this past June, trying to recover from those injuries and doing my marathon training has been tough, both mentally and physically.”
Kuwana needed to take off a month from her training to recover from the auto accident and she describes the layoff as being the most frustrating and a humbling experience.
“I’m just hoping to cross the finish line for my first marathon,” she said. “Anytime would be a good time since it would be such an accomplishment in itself. Hopefully I’ll finish around six hours or a little over, but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself.
Another new comer to the marathon is Jennifer Maninga who has finished the Kona, Kauai and Maui half marathons, but never a full 26.2 event.
“I chose Honolulu because of the team that I train with, they always run the Honolulu Marathon,” Maninga said. “I was compelled to join the team.”
Last year Maninga met the Hilo medical group while in Honolulu and felt the excitement permeating in the air.
“I could feel the excitement, but I also saw the pain and told myself that it would never be me running that distance,” she said. “Now I know, never to say never!”
When asked what time she’d be finishing in Maninga replied with a wide grin, “I think we have to be in by midnight right?”
“I have a time in mind, but if I speak it, I will feel the pressure to make that time,” she said. “Just the thought of finishing is pressure enough.”
“Running a marathon is something that I haven’t accomplished in my life,” Maninga said. “It’s something that I never thought I could do.”
Another first time marathoner lacing up his shoes in Honolulu will be Leonard Baybayan, Jr. who began his training for the event back in April.
“This past February my wife, two daughters and six year old son walked the Great Aloha run and I told them I wanted to try next year,” Baybayan said. “So I started my training in April and as my runs got longer my confidence began to grow.”
Baybayan started with long runs of six miles and increased gradually to eight, then ten and went all the way to 22 miles.
When Baybayan asked his family what they thought of his idea to go to Honolulu and run his first marathon his wife said “go” his daughters said “are you crazy” and his son didn’t care.
Like all the other first time marathoners Baybayan hasn’t set a time to finish the 26.2 miles and is just hoping to be able to cross the finish line.
“My personal goal for my first marathon is to reach the finish line and running it from start to finish,” he said. “I don’t have a set time to finish it in as I don’t want to get discouraged if I don’t achieve that goal and not run again.”
Last weekend Doc Morita and the rest of his group received by mail their Official Running Number Pick-up Cards from the Honolulu Marathon.
“Receiving our packet pick up information has raised our excitement levels in addition to knowing that the marathon is only a few days away,” Morita said. “I was assigned race number 703 and my wife commented that I must be an old-timer for this marathon as my number has gotten a lot smaller although I don’t run any faster than before.”
Pat Bigold, the Director of Media Relations for the Honolulu Marathon, provided the 254 names of Big Islanders preregistered to do the race.
Good luck to all those taking part in the years Honolulu Marathon.