Categorized | Featured, Running, Sports

Kona Marathon, fun runs include 1,235 athletes

Runners take off at the start of  the Kona Marathon on Sunday, June 28 on Alii Drive outside the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Hotel. (Hawaii247.com photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton/Hawaii247.com Contributing Editor

The Kona Marathon greeted the sunrise Sunday by sending at least 1,235 athletes off an a run.

Runners got a last minutes pep talk from Frank Shorter, an Olympic gold medal winner.

“Go out and have fun,” he said. “The weather makes it a no-excuses day. It’s awesome.”

With that, 258 runners took off for the full 26.2-mile marathon and 521 participated in the 1/2 marathon, while the 5K and 10K sported nearly 500 more.

Shorter, who is recovering from foot surgery, said he planned to jog the 5K and then get out on the course to provide cheerleading services via bicycle.

The marathon saw a repeat victor in Justin Gillette, of Michigan, while Gina Slaby of Aiea, Oahu, finished first in the women’s division.

Top Big Island marathon finishers were Billy Barnett, of Volcano, who came in third, and Kealakekua’s Rani Tanimoto.

A pair of Big Islanders took the top spots in the 1/2 marathon distance: Lyman Perry of Volcano and Bree Wee of Kailua-Kona.

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

About 200 runners were racing to raise funds for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. They topped $1 million and will accepting donations through July.

Julie Shobna Patel and Terry Love were waiting at the finish line for their children.

Terry’s daughter, Emilee Klaschus, is living with Crohn’s Disease and was joined by her friend and Julie’s son, Jason, in the 1/2 marathon.

Julie said even though it was Jason’s first race, she had confidence in her son.

“I know he can do it. He’s very strong and so is Emilee,” she said. “I’m just nervous for them, but I’m very very proud of them. He’s such a special kid.”

Terry, a former long distance runner, said she although she has joined in other fund raising events, she was fine waiting at the finish line.

“It was no sacrifice for me, but it’s so hard for me to just watch today,” she said. “I’m really glad for them. Jason has been such a great support and I’m so proud.”

Emilee and Jason finished the race together in just over 3 hours. 

Frank’s back

Shorter said he keeps coming back to the Kona Marathon because he loves the race and especially its founder Jon Kunitake.

“It’s a special race because it’s the right size and the right people running it for this place,” he said. “It just takes me back to the real running boom of about 30 years ago.”

Kunitake is the critical piece, he said.

“It’s really personality driven. It’s about Jon as much as about anything else,” Shorter said.  “That’s why I keep coming back.”

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For full results, check www.konamarathon.com

To donate to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, check wwsw.ccfa.org

Double Olympic medalist Frank Shorter (in yellow) gives a pre-race pep talk Sunday. (Hawaii247.com photo by Karin Stanton) Marathon runners take off along Alii Drive at the start of the Kona Marathon. And, yup, it was still dark at 5:30 a.m. (Hawaii247.com photo by Karin Stanton)
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Justin Gillette defends his title and wins the Kona Marathon with a time of 2:42:06. David O. Baldwin Photography

Finisher photos by HawaiiPhotoman.com

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First place marathon female finisher Gina Slaby, left, finishes alongside husband Steve in the Kona Marathon Sunday morning. David O. Baldwin Photography

Billy Barnett, of Volcano, is the first Big Islander to finish the Kona Marathon with a time of 2:58:45 putting him third place overall.

Billy Barnett, of Volcano, is the first Big Islander to finish the Kona Marathon with a time of 2:58:45 putting him third place overall.

The first female Big Island finisher of the Kona Marathon is Rani Tanimoto of Kealakekua with a time of 3:26:07.

The first female Big Island finisher of the Kona Marathon is Rani Tanimoto of Kealakekua with a time of 3:26:07.

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