Friday, December 21, 2007

Double the Fun at the Honolulu Marathon

Jack Dini
Livermore, CA
December 11, 2007

I was alone, ahead of the pack for 11 miles during the Honolulu Marathon. How was this possible for someone whose pace is one mile in 20 minutes? Easy. Start early! Knowing that it was going to take me 9-10 hours to cover the course (new metal knee), I decided to avoid the masses at the start and begin the race at 2 AM, three hours before the official start time.

What fun! Along the way I passed many parties—after all it was still in the wee hours of the morning. A number of street folks (homeless) were kind enough to wish me well after asking when the race would start, and not a one panhandled me (quite different from what would have happened to me at 2-3 AM in San Francisco). Some folks on Ala Moana Blvd were waiting at different bus stops. I didn’t think they would ever see The Bus; at least I didn’t for 2 miles (40 minutes). Many volunteers were getting instructions and setting up their stations in a flurry of activity. And, of course, there were many police persons at the various intersections. Once, when a heavy rain stated falling, I was able to duck into one of the porta-potties and sit out the storm. After all, no one else was waiting to use my selected toilet since the other runners hadn’t yet started.

Around mile 10.5 the first wheel chair racer passed by in what looked like a high-speed chase to me. He was preceded by two bicyclists with flashing lights and bells and followed by two other folks on bicycles. I later learned that this was Masazumi Soejima of Japan who finished the race course in 1:33. That’s about a 17 mph pace, so no wonder I was impressed with the speed. Three other wheel chair racers passed before the first runners appeared. They were a group of four who seemed to just glide along. They were so close to one another that if one fell they all were going down. Very quite, effortlessly cruising along, they made it look much easier than it really is (to me, at least.). These four were well ahead of the rest of the pack but after another 30 minutes or so, the mob had caught up to me. From then on, the race seemed like a typical marathon—folks passing me left and right. Before I finished, just short of 10 hours, I’m sure most of the folks who didn’t start until 3 hours after I did had passed me by. So what? I had a great time, both at the front end and at the back.

Thanks Honolulu and all your volunteers for another great race.

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