- 6 miles/10K, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other
- Road Race
- Event Website
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The Honolulu Marathon starts at 5am at Ala Moana Beach Park, which is a local recreation area consisting of over 100 acres of park, beaches, swimming and surfing spots. Instead of a traditional air horn or gunshot to start the race, this one starts with fireworks. I'm not just talking one or two little pops. This is a 20 minute full fledged colorful display that rivals some of the best Fourth of July fireworks shows I've seen. Runners cross the start line with fireworks going off on their left side and Miss Hawaii waving to them on the right.
From there the course runs through downtown Honolulu along Honolulu Harbor and through Chinatown into a historic district, which includes:
<ul><li>Iolani Palace, which was the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii and is the only royal palace on American soil
</li><li>The statue of King Kamehameha
</li><li>Honolulu City Hall
</li><li>The Mission Houses Museum
After that, the course crosses the bridge spanning the Ala Wai Canal, which marks the entrance to Waikiki. Runners pass by U.S. Army Fort DeRussy and head down streets lined with shops offering everything from tacky souvenirs and t-shirts to high- priced designer merchandise. This stretch offers views of Waikiki Beach and the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, a renowned surfer and Olympic gold medalist.
At mile 6, the course forks to the left and heads around the Honolulu Zoo and past the Waikiki Shell. At mile 8, the course passes by Diamond Head, which is an extinct 760 foot high volcanic crater. At this point, the course gets a bit hilly but it also offers breathtaking views of Oahu’s east coastline.
At mile 10, the courses passes through some residential and commercial areas along a coastal route which continues for four miles through the communities of Waialae Iki, Aina Haina, and Niu Valley. At mile 16, runners turn left and head into Kalama Valley. This section of the course loops around an inland waterway and offers views of Koko Head, a volcanic crater eroded on one side by the ocean into Hanauma Bay. The course then turns right and passes by Maunalua Bay Beach Park, which is a popular spot for parasailing and outrigger canoes.
For the next four miles, runners double back along Kalanianaole Highway and pass Kawaikui and Wailupe beach parks. At mile 22, the course turns and passes the Waialae Country Club, which is where the Hawaiian Open PGA Golf Tournament is held. At the road’s end, the route turns right and heads past a neighborhood of luxury homes fronting Kahala Beach and Black Point.
At mile 24, runners circle back around Diamond Head crater. An important note here is that mile 24 is almost all uphill, but mile 25 is almost all downhill.
As the last mile of the course curves around Diamond Head toward the finish in Waikiki, the route passes the Diamond Head Lighthouse. The last stretch of the race runs along Kapiolani park past Sans Souci Beach and the Waikiki Aquarium to the Finish Line near the Kapiolani Park Bandstand. After the race, there's food and entertainment at the Honolulu Zoo. You can also get your picture taken with a hula dancer.
There is not a single mile of the Honolulu Marathon course that doesn't have something beautiful to look at. The course is mostly flat with the only two noticeable hills (at mile 8 and mile 24). The race is also well organized and has an nice expo and post race party. Other than the weather, I have nothing but great things to say about it.
The hot and humid weather is no joke though. The temperature on race day was in the mid 80's and the humidity was close to 100%. I counted at least half a dozen ambulances picking up runners and bringing them to local hospitals. I also saw runners on the side of the course being helped by police and medical personnel while they bent over and threw up or passed out. So make sure to wear a hat, sunscreen and light clothing, hydrate properly, and pace yourself. Also, since the race starts at 5am, try to get as many miles in as you can before the sun comes up at 7.
With all that said, don't let the heat scare you. This course is amazing, the race is well organized and Honolulu is the perfect getaway destination during December. Finishing it was a great accomplishment and within a few hours those "man I'm so glad I'm done" thoughts were already starting to dissipate. The next morning I went for another short run along Waikiki beach and felt great. I'd run this race again in a heartbeat and I'd recommend it to anyone else too.