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FOR LAST FINISHER, HONOLULU MARATHON WAS PART OF A LONGER FITNESS JOURNEY

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

HONOLULU (11-Dec) -- Long after Kenyans Paul Lonyangata and Cynthia Limo had won yesterday's Honolulu Marathon, returned to the hotel to shower, gone to the awards ceremony, had dinner, and gone to bed, Andrew Sloane was still on the course, trying to finish his first marathon.  The 36 year-old digital content creator from Chicago was hurting, but determined.

"At mile 17 it was really tough," Sloane told Race Results Weekly in a telephone interview.  "The sun just started beating down on me.  I had to take a lot of breaks and just kind of make sure I was just pacing myself where I would finish.  Really, I just really wanted to finish and show people I can do it, and inspire people to make a positive change in their lives."

Today, Honolulu Marathon officials recognized Sloane as the last of the event's 15,135 finishers.  He was given a net time of 16 hours, 59 minutes and 39 seconds after crossing the finish line in Kapiolani Park after 10:00 p.m. (the race starts at 5:00 a.m.).  His average pace was 38 minutes and 54 seconds per mile.

"It was really important for me to finish no matter what," Sloane continued.  "By the end I was just moving really slowly, but I knew I could finish."

For Sloane, who is not quite 5'-7" and weighs about 300 pounds, yesterday's marathon was an important step in his long road to improving his health and fitness.  He was athletic as a boy, he said, but became sedentary as an adult and gained weight.  His weight went up to a peak of over 450 pounds and he knew he needed to take some serious steps to gain control of his health.

"When I was younger I was very athletic," Sloane explained.  "I played sports and I liked to dance.  But as I got older I lived a kind of unhealthy lifestyle and I really wanted to start my fitness journey a few years ago.  When I started I was about 463 pounds, and I've lost over 160 pounds since then.  Running and accountability, and my running family and community, keeps me grounded and gives me goals to reach for that really help me with my journey."

Sloane decided to sign-up for Honolulu last March.  The race has no official time limit so he knew he would be given the opportunity to finish if he could.  But he had no idea how much support he would receive along the course from Ala Moana to Waikiki.

"I would say that from start to finish the support in this race --I'm just smiling now-- was incredible," Sloane said.  "There's a long stretch when people are coming back the other way, like hundreds of people were cheering me on and giving me high-fives.  When I was going up Diamond Head (Avenue) someone pulled over and took a selfie saying I inspired him.  I got very emotional.  That was really important to me."

On the descent of Diamond Head for the last two miles of the race Sloane started to feel at peace with himself.  He knew he was going to finish, but had no idea there was a small but enthusiastic crowd waiting to greet him at the finish and celebrate his accomplishment.

"I saw the people cheering and I, I don't know, I was overcome with emotion," Sloane said.  "I think I was tearing-up and it meant a lot to me.  [I] put in a lot of work and to see that support at that point was absolutely incredible.  I cannot really put it into words.  It was an amazing moment that I'll remember for the rest of my life."

Like every marathoner, Sloane's body was a little beat up the following day.  But he was surprised that it wasn't worse.

"My body today is better than I thought it would be doing," he said.  "My feet are very sore, I have a little tightness in my lower right back and my right leg.  Honestly, I feel pretty good."

Today, Sloane went to the Hawaii Convention Center for the race's Marathon Monday celebration and was introduced to Lonyangata and Limo who happily posed for a photo with him.  He couldn't believe the attention he was receiving as the last finisher, especially from the race champions.

"Today, meeting the two marathon champions was awesome," Sloane gushed.  "We, like, chopped it up a little bit.  They gave me some training tips and said they hoped to see me again next year, and let's get it down to nine or ten hours.  They were super-nice.  I was blown away knowing how fast they went.  Absolutely incredible."

Yesterday's race finish has given Sloane another burst of motivation to keep going on his journey to better fitness and health.  He thinks he can get his weight down further and definitely improve his time.

"Aside from my own journey I really want to show people that you can do this, you can do this," Sloane said.  "It just made me want to keep going on my journey and keep focusing and keep doing everything I can to get better.  My ultimate goal is to get down to, like, 210 pounds would be great.  I'd be super happy there."


PHOTO: Andrew Sloane, the last official finisher of the 2023 Honolulu Marathon, with the race winners, Paul Lonyangata and Cynthia Limo (photo courtesy of the Honolulu Marathon Association)