Fox victorious in marathon debut

LAHAINA – Evan Fox was looking for a workout. What he got was a win.

The 31-year-old from Kula is this year’s Maui Oceanfront Marathon champion, earning a victory Sunday in his first attempt at the distance.

“I hadn’t trained very much for it so I was just going to try to get a good workout in, and I felt really lucky to actually be strong enough to finish,” Fox said after covering the course from Wailea Ike Drive to Kamehameha Iki Park in 2 hours, 52 minutes, 47 seconds.

Before Sunday’s race, Fox had only competed in half-marathons, including a runner-up finish in the Angkor Wat International in Cambodia two years in a row.

Jill Steele from Washington state was Sunday’s top female finisher, with a time of 3:27:07.

The fifth annual event took runners down South Kihei Road and Honoapiilani Highway before ending on Front Street.

“I had to get up and eat breakfast at, like, 3:30 in the morning,” Fox said. “I like getting up early in the morning and running but this was a real challenge, coming down from Kula you have to leave early and you don’t get as much of a warmup so it’s challenging, but it’s not so hot, either, so that’s nice.”

Fox, who grew up in San Diego, ran track at Stanford. He decided to move on to long-distance events after college, but did not quite know what to expect from a full marathon.

“That second half hurts so much more. Your pace really starts to slow down. You have to be really mentally strong and continue. Around mile 20 I was just dying, running eight-minute miles, I really had to keep motivated. And the other thing is that you have to eat. Like, I never ate during races.”

Fox said he had a lot of help from his father-in-law, Chuck Probst, who followed alongside him during the race and handed him edible energy gel.

Thomas Sands was the runner-up, in 2:58:20.

“We were side by side for about the first 10 miles,” Fox said. “He’d take a little bit, I’d take a little bit, you know, we were kind of challenging each other, keeping the pace up.”

Fox built his lead once they hit the pali, and continued to pull ahead until he hit the finish line.

Brian Prunty of Seattle broke the course record in the half-marathon with his time of 1:19:29. He said he prepared for the race by running 50 to 70 miles every week, and views Sunday’s win as a step toward his goal of competing in the Boston Marathon.

“I don’t really have any life aspirations for it but it definitely keeps me entertained,” Prun-ty said.

The female half-marathon winner was Mary Kelly of Ireland, in 1:28:31.

The 15K male winner was Jasper Engel (58:14) of North Carolina and the female winner was South Dakota’s Ashley Westerman (1:12:55)

Canadian runners won the 10K titles – Marko Toijanen of British Columbia was the male winner in 40:14, and Alberta’s Monika Braun was top female finisher in 44:24.

Toijanen, who trains for triathlons throughout the year, was on vacation with his wife and 1 1/2-year-old daughter when he “noticed that there was a 10K and jumped right on it.”

The 5K titles went to Alberta’s Darrell Anderson (18:52) and Minnesota’s Meghan Lien (25:20).