- 6 miles/10K, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other
- Road Race
- Event Website
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This is only my second Marathon, but the Honolulu Marathon did not disappoint. It really is 26.2 miles of Aloha!
Online and easy, there’s seperate options for US/Canada entrants and International which does mean different prices, and you aren’t able to ship any of the In Training goodies to Australia. Registration closes a couple of weeks before the race however you can sign up at the expo if you’re around Honolulu!
Held in the Honolulu Convention Centre, this expo is like none other! When I say it’s on a grand scale, I truly mean it! You pick up your bib by walking up to the numbered tables, while the volunteers sort through a box of bibs. You are handed your bib and off you go (make sure you get it tested out to see that the chip is working).
You need to make sure you stop by the gear bag table on your way out of the registration pick-up area, they’ll find your numbered sticker and put it on a clear bag, ready for you to fill!
The registration area filters into the official merch area - not only is it huge, but there is (almost) everything there! Shirts, hats, towels, plush toys, you name it! All the other vendors are located behind these areas and you’ll find everything from nutrition, compression and lots of medical supplies. There were even Mitsubishi mascots ready for a picture! Since the Japanese market is a big focus for the race, there was plenty of Japanese only booths giving away Honolulu Marathon merchandise. I must admit, I was a little jealous of the Honolulu Marathon specific Line stickers you could get!
I loved that there were so many picture opportunities and everyone was so excited to be there! The feeling was electric at the expo!
Public parking is available at the Convention Centre. It was $10 and there were plenty of spots.
What I really liked about Honolulu Marathon is that you didn’t know what the medal or the finisher’s shirt looked like until you finished. I know that some people like to know what they’re training towards but I think that seeing at the end makes you focus on the effort of running (or walking) the full distance, rather than the reward at the end. Also upon finishing, and before you get your medal, you are presented with a shell necklace which is a very cool unique to Hawaii aspect of the race.
Corrals: Here’s where it’s interesting. Apart from elites, it’s pretty much all self-seeded. Just fit yourself in amongst the other 30,000 people! I found the 5.5hr - 6 hr marker but it really was a mix of full walkers, runners and the 10k walk people.
The race starts to fireworks at Ala Moana Park, next to the shopping centre, and heads through Downtown Honolulu, back up past the Government buildings - which have the most AMAZING Christmas lights going on (trust me, a lot of people stopped here) - and through Waikiki. You’ll actually pass the park where the finish line is and this is where the 10K walk finish line will be. For full runners, it’s still another 20.2 miles/32.2km to go!
Following the road around Diamond Head is something that must be experienced, not only are you running around a extinct Volcano, but it’s known as High-Five Hill - with some of the most enthusiastic volunteers you’ll ever meet!
Once down the hill you’ll make a series of connections with the course coming back, separating through Waialae Kahala and Hawaii Kai (where you’ll loop and start your way back). The highway miles/kilometres were great as the crowds of people made their way through the course. There was definitely plenty to see!
The drummers on the hill back up the road around Diamond Head were fantastic, and you definitely got the feeling that you were almost there! The final run down to the finish line is like nothing else. Completely straight with supporters and other runners packing the sides, it definitely gives you that last push to the finish!
The finisher’s chute is pretty straight forward, you receive your shell necklace, medal and then you can head to the showers (if needed). There are different spots set up for the post-race food (and the most amazing Malasadas you will eat) and the finisher’s shirts so make sure you’re familiar with the village. There’s big tents set out for the groups, and another tent for merchandise. The gear check bag tent had no line which is perfect when you’ve just ran that distance!
Every 2 and a bit miles, a few were signposted that they were coming up. The aid stations offered water and Gatorade, there weren’t any stations that offered food or gels (although there were plenty of people offering trays of pretzels on the course). Medical stations were also set up at each aid station, offering Vasaline (and a reminder not to eat). There were two locations on the race when I came through which offered Suhotap spray, the best I can describe it as a spray which numbs any pain you may be feeling. Apparently you can only have it 2-3 times a day.
There were also a couple of stops that had sponges and these were desperately needed! It was humid and hot during the race, and there was a big risk of overheating. I was training in my summer (Dec) and thought I’d be ok, but felt like I was getting too hot. You must have a plan to manage the heat, and found that there were aid stations with bags of ice on the side which you could put in a ziplock bag. This, along with dunking my BUFF in water at every aid station made my run a lot more comfortable.
While there’s no focus on entertainment to keep you busy during the race (with the exclusion of the drummers on the way back up Diamond Head), the atmosphere is absolutely amazing! It feels more like a big 26.2 mile party - so many people cheering on the sides and everyone excited to be in Honolulu! I loved hearing the crowd cheer on all the runners and people holding their hands out for high-fives. With no time limit to finish, there are a lot of people who walk the course, which is incredible, so there’s lots of people around if you’re running over 5 hours.
A BIG cheer for the volunteers, they were amazing during the race, especially going up High-Five Hill. Also a big cheer for the first-responders who were keeping a close eye on the race.
Overall, this race is an amazing experience, and I felt that the course went by so quickly. You can’t help but be super happy running in paradise, the course views are incredible and the people are even more so! The race is extremely professional, with every consideration in place to combat the heat. I enjoyed every step of the Honolulu Marathon and this is one I’d consider again!