The Hapalua 2012 


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2012 Hapalua Race Report

The inaugural Hapalua took place in Waikiki, Honolulu on March 11 2012.

2700 runners had signed up the event which takes in the sights of Waikiki, Downtown Honolulu and goes around the Diamond Head crater to finish at the Honolulu Marathon Finish Line in Kapiolani Park.  It is the only race that has a Waikiki start and which goes past the main shopping and hotel strip of Kalakaua Avenue, not only once but twice.



The event featured a unique racing format for elite athletes called The Chase.

In The Chase, the top seeded local athletes get to compete against world class athletes. The start is staggered and the local elites are given a handicap based head-start on the world class runners, meaning anyone in the 26 deep field can win, man or woman, professional or local elite.

In the 2012 Hapalua, the defending Honolulu Marathon Champion, Nicholas Chelimo, and 6 time Honolulu Marathon Champion, Jimmy Muindi, both of Kenya, started at 6am with the mass of recreational runners.

18 minutes earlier, 12 top female runners from Hawaii had taken off from the starting line with the hope of keeping the Kenyans at bay.

9 minutes later, at 5:51am 12 top men from the Hawaiian islands started the race.
Racing against runners who you can’t see or gauge the racing form of is very hard. The first 10k of the course is an out and back which mean that the athletes would meet and see each other, and quickly eye up the racing form.  Bree Wee the race leader for most of the race, claims she got “chicken skin” when she saw Nicholas Chelimo and Jimmy Muindi go by in the opposite direction, knowing they were capable of catching up with her toward the end of the race. She had to keep strong to maintain the lead.

The top men had an equal experience, knowing they had to keep a good pace to make up the  9 minute time advantage on the women, as well as keeping the Kenyans at bay who were charging up ahead.

As the Kenyans started picking off some of the men and women who had started before them, the speed of the professionals became apparent.  “The Kenyans flew by me, and if I had blinked, I would have missed it” writes Rachel Ross who started 18 minutes before the Kenyans.

By Mile 11, Bree Wee was caught up by Thomas Puzey who overtook her and told her to stick with him, but he was too strong. A short while later, Dany Malley also caught up to Wee who slipped into third place.

Nicholas Chelimo and Jimmy Muindi started the race strong covering the first 5k in 14.40, and this ended up being their undoing. The fast pace in the early part of the race proved a strategic flaw as the wind picked up and hills of Diamond Head at the latter stages of the race slowed the two Honolulu Marathon champions down.

Thomas Puzey finished first, pocketing $5,000. Dany Malley received a cheque of $2,500 for his second place and Bree Wee held off the Kenyans with at third place finish and prize money of $1,500.