- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon
- Road Race
The 2017 Hapalua half was my second time running this race, and I must say that this event is extremely well organized, with a great group of runners from Hawaii, the mainland, Japan and really all around the world. Despite the 7,000+ runners competing, it maintains a quaint feel, all of the volunteers and organizers are very friendly and helpful, the aloha spirit is still alive!
I arrived in Honolulu on Saturday morning, and headed to the Hawaii Convention Center for the packet pickup. The convention center has parking for $10 in the garage, but I lucked out at and found a street parking spot nearby. The expo was easy to get to from a series of escalators from the lobby. Outside the expo ballroom, Hawaiian musicians played soft music and young hula dancers were performing. They had several Hapalua backdrops set up in the outside area, which were great for taking race Bibb photos. Athlete profile banners were also on display for the local Hawaii athletes and world class elite athletes competing in the "Chase" where start times are ranked by potential finishing time, with the overall top 10 winners taking home cash prizes.
Picking up my race number was very easy, and I spent about 30 minutes checking out the race logo items and product booths. Several running shoe stores had shoes on sale, and I was able to pick up a pair of Brooks Ravenna for a great price.
The race start was the next day at the Duke Kahaunmoku statue in Waikiki. I got there at about 5:15am, to allow time for a warmup and the chance to see the Chase athlete starts, which ran from 5:40 am to 5:50 am. My only complaint about the start was that there was no system to allow the faster runners access to the start line, I pushed forward as far as I could but was still about 30' back. A half marathon has plenty of distance to make up the time, but it would be great to have a dedicated corral for runners planning to run under 1:40.
After the national anthem, the overall field started at 6:00am, with the morning sun just starting to lighten the sky. I started at a stready 7:00 pace for the first few miles, with the plan to speed up slightly to my goal pace after the first 5k. The organizers provided race timers and timing mats at 5k, 10k, 15k, plus mile markers and kilometer markers so it was always very clear where you were at in the race. The entire roadway was shut down, which was awesome not to have to worry about traffic. The course also looped back after four miles, so all of the runners get to see the leaders go by, which is very inspiring.
After running back through Waikiki, the race course heads up a 150' climb from miles 9 to 10, which is very challenging segment at that point in the race. The last three miles wrap around Diamond Head crater, in a rolling downhill. The final half mile is a straightaway along Kapiolani Park, ending with a massive chute with photographers and spectators cheering you on.
I finished in 1:34, a little longer than my goal time, but a full four minutes faster than the year before so I was happy! The finish volunteers presented me the finisher medal, a unique spinner medal in gold with glitter accents. Post race snacks included bananas, malasadas, shave ice, cold pressed pineapple juice, and ice cream sandwiches. A huge LCD screen replayed the finish line video with a 15 minute lag so runners could see their finish- that was a fun feature. I enjoyed the band at the finish line, and shared my race experience with my friends that had also finished the Hapalua.