Maui Marathon: Yoroizaka goes from wedding to winning

Honeymoon includes victory in 26.2-mile debut; Nakai takes women’s race for third straight year

Tetsuya Yoroizaka grabs a drink while running through Olowalu on the way to winning the men’s title in 2:43:21. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

LAHAINA — As part of his honeymoon, Tetsuya Yoro­izaka decided to take a Sunday run in the Maui Marathon.

The 27-year-old, a world-class runner from Japan making his first attempt at the 26.2-mile distance, covered the course from Ho­okele Street in Ka­hului to the Kaanapali Beach Hotel in 2 hours, 43 minutes, 21 seconds, finishing 11:14 in front of second-place Luc Tremblay of Canada.

“Very good, very windy, so tough race,” Yoroizaka said through interpreter Ryota Hanamure. “The toughest part was the wind.”

Wailuku resident Sage Sarchet was third in 3:00:42.

Yuko Nakai of Honolulu won the women’s race for the third year in a row. Her time of 3:17:11 was good for seventh place overall.

Yuko Nakai heads to a victory in Sunday’s Maui Marathon women’s race — she completed the course from Ho­okele Street in Ka­hului to the Kaanapali Beach Hotel in 3 hours, 17 minutes, 11 seconds. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Yoroizaka finished 18th in the 10,000 meters at the 2015 world track and field championships, and won a bronze medal in the 3,000 at the Asian Indoor Championships in 2014.

Sunday’s race, however, was like none he had run before, though he was able to smile in the medical tent while being provided ice bags that he placed all around his body.

His wife, Keiko, finished the half-marathon in 2:20:26.

Tetsuya Yoroizaka broke away from the pack within the first three miles.

“He was running with many runners, but they said, ‘Go, go, go, go,’ “ Hanamure said, paraphrasing. “He is a professional runner, but now is the offseason, so he didn’t prepare very much. His wife wanted to join this race, so he decided to join together.”

The sun rises over Joy Welker (left) of Oregon, Joanna Meyer of Arizona and other Maui Marathon runners. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Oahu’s Andrew Taylor was fourth in 3:03:11, his best finish in four Maui Marathons.

“It was windy,” Taylor said. “For the first half of the race it felt kind of nice because it was a tailwind, but then the second half it was a crosswind, so you’d get, like, branches and leaves flying into your face. At one point it almost blew me off the road. … The hills I knew were going to be there, but the wind, I didn’t know what to do. Miles 13 through 16 it was so strong I was worried it was going to be like that the rest of the race. That was definitely the hardest part.”

Taylor, a chemist, said he had no hope of keeping up with Yoroizaka.

“I saw him for the last time around the second or third mile — he was fast,” Taylor said. “I went way more conservative. I think I started, like, in 10th for the first couple miles and then slowly started picking people off.”

Nakai, 43, won her 11th marathon, all of which have been in Hawaii and include a pair of Maui Oceanfront Marathon victories.

Melvin Coleman of North Carolina carries the American flag toward Maalaea — he said it was his eighth time running the race with the Stars and Stripes. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Lahaina’s Lindsey Dwyer was second in 3:18:08, ninth overall.

“I didn’t expect to win for this year because I was sort of out of shape,” Nakai said. “But the wind pushed me for the hill. That helped, I was really lucky. I was second until the last three miles.”

Nakai, who works for a Japanese-language radio station, said Yoroizaka is part of a strong connection between the Maui Marathon and Japan.

“I was expecting him to win, he is very good — honeymoon, nice memories for him,” Nakai said. “I heard there are 300 Japanese total for this weekend (which had four races altogether). … (The Japan Travel Bureau) was supporting, so a lot of Japanese know about it.”

* Robert Collias is at

Yuko Nakai receives her medal after lifetime marathon win No. 11. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Tetsuya Yoroizaka celebrates his victory. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Runners face wind and dust in Launiupoko. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Lahaina’s Lindsey Dwyer leaves the pali on her way to finishing as the women’s runner-up. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo