The Honolulu Marathon is a major 26.2-mile (42.2 km) marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is one of the world's largest marathons, taking place annually on the second Sunday in December.
General: Cost: Paid
General: Race / Competition
The race began in 1973. During its formative period (1973–1978) the Honolulu Marathon doubled in size every year—a rate that has been equaled only once. That growth, like the growth of long-distance running itself, came about not from an interest in competition, but from a quest for personal longevity and an enhanced quality of life.
Now drawing more than 20,000 entries a year, the Honolulu Marathon is one of the biggest in the country. Back in 1973, there wasn't widespread interest in it. At the forefront of the growth of the Honolulu Marathon was cardiologist Jack Scaff, one of the first physicians to prescribe running as therapy for heart disease.
Over time, the race grew and changed, luring large corporate sponsors and paying substantial prize money to the winners. In 1995, the Honolulu Marathon enjoyed the distinction of being the world's largest marathon when it drew 34,434 entrants and had 27,022 finishers.
Unique to the Honolulu Marathon among American marathons is its popularity among runners from Japan, where there are very few marathons open to all entrants. In recent years, the majority of entrants have been visitors from Japan. The marathon is popular enough that the Honolulu Marathon Association maintains an office in Tokyo to process entries. Japan Air Lines has been the title sponsor of the race since 1985.
Starting near Ala Moana Beach Park across from Ala Moana Center, the course progresses west along the waterfront toward downtown Honolulu, then loops through downtown and bends back east through Waikiki, around Diamond Head Beach Park & Kuilei Cliffs, and out toward the eastern suburbs of Honolulu, winding through Hawaii Kai before doubling back toward the finish line at Waikiki's Kapiolani Park.
Marathoners consider the course moderately difficult because of the tropical weather conditions, with temperatures starting at around 65°F (18°C) and rising to as high as 80°F (27°C), and a relatively hilly course compared with other marathons. Nevertheless, the race also remains a popular choice for first-time marathoners.
In recent years, on average, about 25,000 runners finish the Honolulu Marathon each year, and it has consistently placed among the world's ten largest marathons in terms of total finishers. Entry to the Honolulu Marathon is open to anyone who can pay the entry fee. Unlike other marathons of similar size, popularity, and stature, there are no qualifying standards to meet, no fixed limits on the number of runners, and no time limit to finish the course (all runners receive an official time and certificate).
Over the past 34 years, more than 585,000 runners have started the Honolulu Marathon, with over 482,000 finishers, for a finishing rate of over 82%.
Although the difficulty of the course precludes world-record pace performances, winners of the Honolulu Marathon have used it as a stepping stone to greater achievements. For instance, three-time winner Ibrahim Hussein of Kenya later won the Boston Marathon three times; and 1993 winner Bong-Ju Lee won the silver medal in the 1996 Olympic Marathon in Atlanta.
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