Kenya’s Philip Tarbei smashed the 6th edition of the Hapalua Half Marathon that was held on Sunday (8) in Kapiolani Park, Hawaii.
The 24 year-old chased down all 21 Team Hawaii runners who had left 24 minutes before the elite as he also bettered his three pro challengers, as well, to crash the course record of 64:08 that was set by Peter Kirui in 2015 when he cut the tape in a new course record of 63: 27.
Team Hawaii rookie Ryan Tsang of Maui finished second with an adjusted time of 64:05, based on his 12-minute head start. Kenya’s RunCzech Racing runner Abraham Kipyatich took third in 65:29, as he was still recovering from a 61:03 half marathon last weekend in Prague in the Czech Republic.
“When we hit 5k I saw the time was really good (14:40), and I was still strong,” Philip said afterwards. “I was telling him (running partner Kipyatich) ‘let us push.”
Tarbei and Kipyatich maintained their quick tempo, passing the 10k mark in 29:28 (14:48) where they passed four-time Japanese Olympian Kayoko Fukushi, who was considered the race favorite.
From there it was knocking off one Team Hawaii runner after another on his way to victory.
“I can use this race to predict more good things,” said Philip. “I know I can run much faster on a flatter course.”
Tarbei only began running seriously two years after graduating from Tambach Teachers College where he studied teaching. The Hapalua was only his third international competition following a sixth place finish at the Venloop half marathon in Netherlands where he finished in 1:00.48.
The Chase is the Hapalua’s signature element, a racing tool designed by race founder Jim Barahal who once was one of the islands’ stop runners when he moved to Hawaii from his native Michigan in the late 1970s.
“We set up the head starts for someone to win in 63:30,” said Barahal, “either straight up or with the handicap. I told Team Hawaii, ‘you’re not going to win $5000 with an average day. It’s going to take a PR.”