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Endurance sports: Stover keeps it local, claims Hilo marathon

Updated: 
March 20, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO – It was a well-received golden day for Patrick Stover, who not only set a personal record at the 20th annual Big Island International Marathon but also finished as the first local winner since 2010.

The 2006 Konawaena graduate clocked in at 2:55:16, breaking the coveted three-hour barrier on Sunday and joining Volcano’s Billy Barnett on a short list of homegrown Hilo marathon champions.

“I finally broke three hours,” he said. “I never broke three hours before. It’s a PR for me.”

Last year, Stover, 28, ran a marathon in Pennsylvania and was on track to crack three hours. But a train ran through the course and delayed all runners by six minutes. Stover finished in 3:08.

“The train was supposed to stop, but there wasn’t communication,” he said. “Everybody had to stop. After it was delayed by six minutes, I just decided to have fun.”

Stover knows the pain of falling short when a goal is within reach.

As a Wildcats junior, Stover was a favorite to capture the 1,500 meters at the BIIF track and field championships. He was leading the race, but took his foot off the gas and watched in dismay as Hawaii Prep’s Emmett Weatherford edged him, 4:23.07 to 4:23.14.

Stover later blitzed to BIIF gold in the 800 and as a senior swept both events. He also won the BIIF cross-country title as a senior.

At the HHSAA championships, he never scored gold but collected a pile of silver and bronze medals, competing well against the state’s best but still not burying the memory of a gold once lost.

Stover has run the Hilo and Kona marathons twice each, the Honolulu Marathon once, and Pennsylvania, where he briefly lived with his sister. He works at the Four Seasons, where his dad and two other sisters are employed.

“This Hilo marathon I ran much better than the last one. At the 6 mile marker before the finish, I died. This one I caught the first guy at the 19 mile marker,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I had nothing left at the end. I wanted to conserve, conserve, and conserve in the first half then push the pace in the second.”

Last year, Oregon’s Sam Settelmeyer set the course record in 2:37:11 but the conditions were far more favorable. It was overcast and rained a bit, always helpful elements for runners.

Settelmeyer didn’t return, so there wasn’t a strong lead horse. But Stover ran in an oppressive sun-baked oven with no showers to provide any relief.

Stover pointed out that the community support carried him — past all the other runners and any self-doubt in the back of his mind.

“The difference was the support. It was the running community, and everybody believing in me, and it made me believe in myself,” he said. “I know running is a solo sport, but I couldn’t have done it without the community’s support. A lot of people were encouraging me, and I appreciated that.”

In 2008, Stover ran his first marathon at the old Hilo course, where the starting point was out in Pepeekeo. Then he stopped running and took a five-year hiatus.

When he started running 26.2 miles again, Stover discovered something about himself.

“It gave me a purpose, something to focus on and go toward,” he said. “Everybody has to work and pay bills, but when I run I feel free. It helped improve my life. I’m happy that I won for the Big Island and I get to represent the Big Island.”

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