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Best Run Routes On Oahu: The 2016 Honolulu Marathon

Basic Information

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

Topographic Map of the Honolulu Marathon Run Route

Honolulu Marathon 2016 Run Route

Google Earth Map of the Honolulu Marathon Run Route

Honolulu Marathon 2016 Run Route

Narrative

Living in Hawaii means great year round weather for jogging.  I decided to take advantage of this fact and train for my first ever marathon.  Earlier this month I completed the 2016 Honolulu Marathon and have some mixed feelings about the event. I registered for the marathon online and then the day prior to the race I picked up my packet at the Honolulu Convention Center:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

At the expo for the marathon there were a number of vendors selling various gear to racers.  It was pretty packed, but I took the time to walk around and see what was for sale:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

I was surprised to see things for sale at the expo that had nothing to do with racing.  For example who would go to a marathon expo and buy a quilt?  Well you can at the Honolulu Marathon Expo.  Nothing at the expo really caught my attention and so I went home to get ready for the race the following day.

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

The next morning I headed over to Waikiki for the start of the marathon.  The race began at 5:00 AM so I left my house at 3:00 AM.  The start point for the race was Ala Moana Beach Park.  The Honolulu Marathon website had recommended parking locations with shuttle bus service.  I decided to park on my own over at the pay lot across from the Ft. DeRussy Museum.  From there it was about a mile walk to the start point.  When I got to Ala Moana Beach Park the crowd was huge.  There was over 26,000 people participating in the marathon:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

A major issue I had that morning was the fact that there was not enough porta-potties to support the number of runners.  I had hydrated before the race and really had to go.  I waited in line for one hour to use the restroom which meant one more extra hour on my feet before the race instead of resting and stretching.  I was actually in the port-potty when I heard the fireworks going off which meant the race had started.  So I got out of the ports-potty and found that no one had even moved because there was so many people.  Having never ran a marathon I was unsure what my finishing time would be so I estimated 5 hours and went over to the area for 5 hour runners.  This ended up being a huge mistake.  From this section it took 30 minutes just to get to the start line which meant another 30 minutes on my feet.  From the time I parked to the time I crossed the start line for the marathon I had been on my feet for over 2 hours and had not even began the race.  To make matters worse when I crossed the start line I could not even run, I was walking because of all the people:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

The course for the race went from Ala Moana Beach Park and through downtown.  Through downtown I was speed walking at best because of the huge number of people:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

What really made things frustrating was the number of walkers.  You would think the walkers would be in the back of the race order and instead huge numbers of them were up front.  The number of walkers prevented me from getting into a good running rhythm because I would stuck behind them and have to walk until I had an opportunity to pass them.  Further obstacles was the amount of people dressed up in costumes that were slowly jogging or walking because of the extra weight.  I even saw someone running in a wedding dress:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

If someone wants to dress up I have no problem with that, however they should be in the back of the run order not in front of it clogging the run route for other runners.  It got even better when in downtown a huge crowd of runners were stopped in the middle of the road taking pictures of Christmas lights:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

I have no problem with taking pictures of Christmas lights, I just believe people should not stop in the middle of the road during a marathon to take pictures.  Some people were even standing in the road posing for someone else to take a picture of them.  From downtown the run route then went through Waikiki and around Diamond Head.  The route around Diamond Head was horrible because of how narrow the road was.  This caused the run route to become quite congested with walkers once again causing difficulties for people to pass.  As I jogged through the Kahala neighborhood the sun came up and the road got wider which allowed easier passing:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

From Kahala the run route then followed the Kalanianaole Highway east to Hawaii Kai.  The route then looped through the very pleasant Hawaii Kai neighborhood which had great views of the surrounding Ko’olau Range:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

After looping through Hawaii Kai the route then returns to follow the Kalanianaole Highway west back to Kahala.  It was on this section a Japanese runner collided into me. Someone on the side of the road, presumably her daughter yelled out to her and she heard the voice and immediately ran towards the voice without realizing I was trying to pass her at the same time.  The collision twisted my bad back a bit and at the next water station I took the one Ibuprofen pill I brought with me that helped.  As I hit Mile 22 while going through Kahala I actually had to begin speed walking because of how sore my back had become:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

I speed walked for two miles before deciding to jog the remainder of the route below Diamond Head and finish at Kapiolani Park.  As I neared the park there was a lot of people along the side of the road cheering the runners on:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

I was quite happy to see the 42k sign and the finish line up ahead:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

After crossing the finish line there was people waiting to give me my finishers medal which was actually quite nice.  I then walked over to the finishers area and began to drink a lot of water:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

Besides my back the rest of body felt pretty good after the race.  What really made me feel better though were the great malsadas that were being served:

Picture from the 2016 Honolulu Marathon

I ended up eating six of them which combined with all the water left me feeling quite bloated.  So that was my cue to walk back to my truck and head back home.  Incredibly I felt really good walking across Waikiki and back to my truck.  The next day I was a bit sore, but not as bad as I thought I would be.

Conclusion

Overall I was happy I did the marathon, but disappointed in my result.  I know I could have had a much better time if I was not on my feet for so long before the race even started and then got stuck behind all the walkers.  This race was a valuable lesson learned because next time I am just going to go up to the front and pay no attention to the signs trying to segregate the runners.  Obviously the marathon organizers don’t care so why should I?  Other runners I talked to after the race told me that is what they did and they were able to quickly get into a standard running rhythm since they did not have to dodge walkers and other obstacles along the route.  The next race I am going to try is the Hapalua Half Marathon in April.  The lessons learned from this race I think will really help me improve my time for the Hapalua.

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