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Honolulu Marathon


It may be a surprise that a marathon on a small, tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is among the ten largest marathon races in the world. 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.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 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.

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