Overall winner Justin Gillette claimed his fifth straight UCC Coffee Kunitake Farms Kona Marathon on Sunday. Results begin on Page 2B. (Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Justin Gillette established himself as the King of the Kona Marathon on Sunday.
It will be up to his queen to determine if he comes back again.
Gillette won his fifth consecutive UCC Coffee Kunitake Farms Kona Marathon on Sunday at Keauhou Beach Resort, flying down the finish line to cap a 2 hour, 37 minute, 14 second finish. The Berne, Ind., native finished more than 4 minutes better than second place. Gary Krugger of Flagstaff, Ariz., took second with a time of 2:41:35.
Tokyo’s Aki Mizunuma won the women’s race and finished 15th overall, completing the race in a time of 3:18:16. Honolulu’s Tammy Bautista finished second in the women’s race and 23rd overall with a time of 3:27:04.
“A lot of people want me to come back, but a lot of people probably wish I wouldn’t come back,” Gillette said. “The organizers want me to come back and try for my sixth win, but it will be up to my wife whether I come back or not.”
Gillette’s wife, Melissa, won the women’s race two years ago, eight months after giving birth to son, Miles. She did not participate in the 2011 event, but she came with Miles to bring moral support.
This year, Melissa and Miles stayed back in Indiana.
“Miles knows I went on a plane and am running,” Gillette said. “When he sees a plane, he points at it and says, ‘Daddy fly running.’ Those are moments I miss.
“This is just a personal goal, but you can’t sacrifice your family for personal goals.”
The women’s winner, Mizunuma, smiled broadly as she crossed the finish line.
“It was very hot, but I’m very happy,” Mizunuma said.
Gillette was happy, too, but he struggled after finishing the race. The aid tent wasn’t ready, and he found comfort in a frozen dessert. Then he went to his hotel room where he made use of the air conditioner.
Even before the race, Gillette did not feel well. He said he had sharp pain in his back, and he could tell during the race it was bothering him. He was slower than the 2011 race; he finished last year’s race in 2:34:41, nearly 3 minutes faster than Sunday’s finish.
“I probably fell,” Gillette said. “If you fall out here, you land on those rocks, and they are very sharp.”
Gillette and Krugger are friends and competitors. Gillette said Krugger came to the event to try to unseat him as champion.
“He’s never beat me, but we ran together for the first few miles before I pulled away,” Gillette said. “He started gaining on me at about mile 15, but I pulled away at mile 20.”
Laupahoehoe’s Alan Ryan was the top Big Island finisher, claiming the sixth spot. Ryan finished the race in 3:01:11, just ahead of Australia’s Adam Clarke.
“It was really good,” Ryan said. “A little better than expected. The last six miles were the most difficult.”
Ryan said he hadn’t done as much marathon training as he normally would, but he was pleased with the results.
“I just went out at the same pace I did at Boston in April. I felt in control the whole time,” Ryan said.
“I’m not sore, not beat up. I don’t have any speed, and that’s something I’ve got to work on.”
Kailua-Kona’s Elda Carreon was the top Big Island woman to finish. She finished in 3:46:58 for 10th place among women and 46th overall.
Julie Weiss, featured in Saturday’s edition of West Hawaii Today, was the 252nd finisher among 370 runners. The Santa Monica, Calif., native completed the race in 5:24:28.