Are you looking for a challenge that involves sweating, beautiful scenery, and warm weather? Then you’ve just found the perfect venue with the Honolulu Marathon. Come to Honolulu and run or walk the marathon on December 10, 2017!
The first Honolulu Marathon was held in 1973 with 162 entrants, and peaked with over 34,000 entrants in 1995. The number of entrants since 1995 has bounced up and down roughly between 22,600 and 33,600. A large part of participants are from Japan (roughly just under 50%).
Did you know that the Honolulu Marathon is ranked as one of the Top 10 Marathons in the World based on its prestige, popularity, and purse size?
Course and Details
The marathon course is somewhat flat, except for a couple of hilly parts around Diamond Head crater. The start line is close to Honolulu’s mega mall, Ala Moana Shopping Center, and the course weaves through downtown, back into Waikiki and out to the east side to Hawaii Kai before looping back to Waikiki. For more details on the course and entrance costs, visit the Honolulu Marathon official site.
One important note is that the Honolulu Marathon welcomes walkers. So, if you don’t think you can run the 26.2 miles, you can certainly train to walk it.
What I like about it
Running a marathon is a lone sport so it’s much better when you run it with lots of people around you. Somehow all those people running faster or slower than me feel like my best friends, who can empathize with my experience.
At the Honolulu marathon, runners and walkers at great for cheer each other along the course, and spectators get right into the event by hold up signs of encouragement, offer food and drink, cheering, and playing music. The volunteer race staff are also fabulous! In particular, I fondly think of all the young kids who line up Diamond Head Road holding yellow tape to keep participants on one side of the road. On this stretch, high-fives are a must for these kids. Not only are they standing for a long time, they’ve also had to get up before the crack of dawn to be ready for us. Most of the time my teenaged son is still in bed when I get back from the race!
The City of Honolulu is proud of its Marathon and makes it a great experience for locals and visitors for the week leading up to the marathon and right after. Flags line Kalakaua Avenue (main street in Waikiki), restaurants offer special pre-race meals, the expo encourages participants and visitors to partake in the celebrations. You’ll see runners and walkers wearing their finisher shirts and medals for a week after the marathon, proudly showing off their accomplishments.
The early December race date is great since all the hard work is done before the Christmas parties begin. You can bask in the glory of finishing the race, and fit into your slinky party dress too!
What’s difficult about this marathon? I’d say that it’s the heat, and sometimes the tradewinds. Although we start the race at 5 am, by the time 9 am rolls around you are running in the sun and heat. When the tradewinds are blowing, there is relief from the heat but then you’re battling wind. No matter what direction you are running, it seems like the trades are swirling and blowing in your face. Heat and wind will affect your finish time!
I have run a couple of Honolulu’s in the rain, and found them to be better conditions for me. The last one was in 2014, in torrential rain, when my dear friend, Joylin, came from Canada to run the race with me. My feet sloshing in my shoes caused some major blood blisters, but my finish time was better than other years! We could not enjoy the festivities at the end of the race because the rain just wouldn’t quit. I guess you can’t have it all.
For the most part, the races have been on good weather days with just a pop-up shower to cool us off!
Train, Train, Train
This year’s marathon is about 23 weeks away. If you are not a runner, please start now to train. Do not attempt to run or walk a marathon without proper training. You will destroy your desire to do it ever again. This advice is also for those who want to walk the marathon. If you don’t do much walking now, get started!
For recreational runners, I would suggest you consider an 18-to 20-week plan. For regular runners who have a good base of weekly running, you might consider a 12-to 16-week plan.
Marathon plans typically include long runs, speed and tempo runs, and hill runs – weekly or bi-weekly. Having a plan that suits your particular goals, and fitness/running level is critical for success.
Consider hiring a coach to create a personalized plan. Michael Garrison, PhD at Hawaii Running Lab is a local coach who can provide coaching and programs. Michael has a growing following here on Oahu, which is well-deserved. He comes with lots of experience and a solid research/educational background in fitness and running.
Another online option is Mbition, a subscription-based running website that can adapt programs to your fitness level and goals based on your answering a few questions. Throughout the program you record your training sessions so you can see your progress, and coaches are available for suggestions via messaging in the system.
I used Mbition for training for the last three races and it was great. It pushed me to do some workouts that I thought I couldn’t possibly do; for example, doing a tempo run, after a heavy running week, the day after my long run. It was amazing how well my body handled those workouts. Following the programs helped me achieve a better time in last year’s Honolulu Marathon and a PR in this year’s Hapalua Half Marathon.
The Mbition team has been super with me over the last year. They were readily available to answer questions and to offer suggestions for training…and now are offering our followers a special deal – 25% off the purchase of their subscription. To obtain the discount, the voucher code is “Awesomerun”. Their prices are very reasonable at only $36 US for a yearly plan. Check them out and take advantage of this great deal.
Just to make it clear, we do not have any special compensation arrangements with either Hawaii Running Lab or Mbition. They are very good resources we want to share with our followers.
Now, for the sponsored part of our post! If you are looking for a place to stay while in Honolulu, please consider staying at our studio suites. You can check us out on Airbnb:
Let’s Touch Base
If you plan to run the Honolulu Marathon and want to talk further about the experience or if you’d like to do some runs together while in town, please contact me. It would be fun to meet and run, or chat about the race. You can contact me (Lia) here.
Aloha and happy training!