Former Marathon Champion visits with Mid-Pacific students
Categories: Elite Athletes
Three-time Honolulu Marathon champion Mbarak Hussein visited with a group of elementary students on Thursday, continuing a tradition for his frequent return visits to the race. “It’s important to give back to the community and share my experiences with the community,” he said after the visit with first-, second- and fifth-graders at Honolulu’s Mid-Pacific Institute. “We need to reach out and try to inspire the younger kids.” That inspiration became apparent when the students greeted him with hugs and smiles after running a couple laps around the school’s athletic field at the conclusion of the visit. That response was “very exciting,” and made the school visit worthwhile, he said. He offered running tips, encouraging the students to start slowly and build up stamina. Many of the students’ questions centered on his running career, although they also wanted to know about life in his native Kenya, particularly about language. One student asked if he spoke to his parents in English. He replied that they speak very little English, so communication with them is in Swahili. He also talked about the Swahili names in The Lion King Hussein, the Honolulu winner in 1998, 2001 and 2002, said that as an elementary student, he didn’t like running. He said he later started running the three miles from his home to school and got interested in the sport. Professional runners have to “put in the time,” and follow a strict training regimen and eat and sleep well, he said. “Diet is very big.” He still follows a strict diet and at 48, he remains lean and fit. He competes in the master’s division in marathon and shorter-distance races, and is a four-time U.S. Masters marathon champion. He also is a high school cross-country coach. In response to another question, Hussein said his inspiration for running was his older brother, Ibrahim, also a three-time Honolulu Marathon champion, winning consecutive victories starting in 1985. He proudly told the students his brother was the first Kenyan to win the Boston Marathon.