Ever since its
Greek genesis in 490 BC, the marathon event has surfaced in every
conceivable metropolis, latitude, longitude and crevice of the
But few 26.2-mile odysseys can compete with the Easter Island
Marathon when it comes to combining the magic and mysteries of the
marathon distance with a profoundly mythical and provocative locale.
One of the most isolated places on earth, Easter Island lies
2,300 miles from land of any significance. A tiny speck in the
middle of the South Pacific, the island is roughly triangular in
shape with it rocky shores measuring just 13, 11, and 10 miles in
length. A Chilean territory since 1888, Easter Island has a
population of 4,000 who live in primarily Hanga Roa, the island's
Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as it is known by islanders, is famous
for its more than 800 imposing stone statues which punctuate the
landscape. On average, the colossal monoliths, or moai,, stand 13
feet high and weigh 14 tons -- human heads on torsos in the male
form craved form from rough hardened volcanic ash.
The many enigmas of Easter Island have been a magnet for
travelers and a puzzle for anthropologists and archaeologists since
the first European explorers arrived here on Easter Day in 1722.
Where did the original inhabitants come from? How did the
Polynesians arrive at such an unlikely destination -- an estimated
1,400 years ago? What inspired them to build the moai? How did they
move the statues from the quarries to other parts of the island?
Theories abound, including off-beat stories of aliens invading the
island via spaceships.
A nirvana for adventure-seeking marathoners, the 4th annual
Easter Island Marathon did not disappoint those who went the
distance to go the distance. "I've always been intrigued about the
island's isolation, history, culture and statues," said Michael
Ekern, a 44-year-old participant from Minneapolis, MN. "When I
learned that there was a marathon on the island, I just had to be
The June 12, 2005, marathon started with the 5K, 10K and half
marathon races in the seaside town of Ranga Roa. The hilly
out-and-back marathon course looped through town before heading out
on one of the island's few paved roads - a sparsely-traveled path
through the center of the island.
The challenging course featured some of the less celebrated but
equally picturesque features of the island, including it lush green
meadows and hillsides. Frequent encounters with the island's many
free-roaming cattle and wild horses kept runners on their feet as
did run-ins with some of the local canines, one of which ran the
entire race with a small pack of Americans. Occasional sightings of
moai served as a reminder that this was a marathon far and away off
the beaten path.
Race-day weather was typical for the area - a 72-degree
subtropical smorgasbord that started with sunshine and evolved into
cloudy conditions, steady drizzle, wind and drenching downpours.
It was no mystery as to who won the races with decisive victories
in both the men's and women's divisions. Erwin Valdebenito, a
42-year old ultramarathoner from Chile, led the men's race
wire-to-wire for an uncontested victory in the course record time of
two hours, 59 minutes and nine seconds. Luis Alberto Concha of Chile
finished second (3:06:54) and Anthony Russo of the USA finished
The race was a family affair for women's champion Kristine Hup, a
24-year-old law student from Northfield, MN. Her father, 50-year-old
Stanley Hup, stopped for ten minutes with one mile to go and waited
for her to catch up. They ran the last mile together and finished,
in 3:51:10. Angie Partin of the USA placed second (4:53:57) and
Cynthia Paquette of Canada finished third (4:56:50).
Susie Rutherford of the United Kingdom was the overall winner in
the half marathon race with a time of 1:35:04. Runner up and first
in the men's division was Sylvain Gicquel, 36, of Tahiti who clocked
Sixteen Americans joined the international field that included
runners from Germany, Japan, Sweden, Belgium, Tahiti, Chile, England
and Canada. The weekend's accompanying 5k, 10k, sprint triathlon and
mountain bike races were popular with the Rapa Nui locals.
For more information on the Easter Island Marathon, visit www.marathontours.com/easterisland or call