But with its 25,000 annual runners the Honolulu Marathon really is up there with the big ones such as Boston, New York, Chicago and London. The first Honolulu Marathon appeared in 1973 with 151 finishers, and already in this inaugural race, the dream was to be on par with the famous Boston Marathon one day. Especially runners from Japan contribute to the field making it large enough to compete with Boston and making up more than 60 percent of the total.
The Honolulu runners will end their hardships in Kapiolani Park near the volcanic crater, Diamond Head. Kapiolani Park was the state’s first public park and it remains one of the most frequented recreational areas in the city. On race day the park is transformed to a joyful festival with an award ceremony, shiatsu massage and nearly 50,000 spectators celebrating the tired but euphoric finishers. Before reaching Kapiolani Park, runners have passed several famous Hawaiian landmarks such as Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the US. And also the statue of surfing hero Duke Kahanamoku on surfing heaven Waikiki Beach and Kawaiahao Church, built with coral blocks from nearby reefs. The course is relatively flat with a large part of it following the magnificent Pacific coastline. A climb occurs at Diamond Head, which runners pass twice along the way. The highest point is 38m above sea level and with the burning sun and oppressive humidity, the course can be quite challenging.
The marathon in the capital of Hawaii is not only a one-day event. Marathon-related activities spread over the whole week leading up to race day on 7 December 2014 (date to be confirmed). The traditional Sports Expo lasts four days attracting thousands of visitors with autograph-signing celebrities and trips to Las Vegas as give-aways.
Friday before race day a concert/luau with Hawaiian music, dance show and the mandatory carbo-loading dinner are held to get everybody in the mood for Sunday’s run. The marathon is started off with fireworks and every finisher is adorned with a Hawaiian shell lei after crossing the finish line. If these exotic festivities appeal to you but the thought of running 42km does not, you can join the Honolulu Marathon Race Day Walk. This is a 10km non-competitive walk following the first 10km of the marathon course and finishing in Kapiolani Park just like the marathon.
Registration and additional information at the official Honolulu Marathon website here.
Honolulu Marathon Course
A description of the scenic course of the Honolulu Marathon, Hawaii, as well as, a course map and elevation chart are available here.