Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Honolulu Marathon

Un Marathon ... pas comme les autres!

Signing Up

I hadn't necessarily planned to register for this event, when I visited its web site.  What I saw, on the home page however, sealed the deal:

There is no time limit and no limit on the number of participants. We wait for the last finisher to cross the line and all finishers get an official finishers shirt and awesome medal.

The event slogan - 26.2 Miles in Paradise - didn't hurt either.

The Expo

Like most marathons, prior to the event there is packet pickup at the expo.  This expo was held at the Hawai'i Convention Center, in the heart of Honolulu (not far from the race start).

The Convention Center is striking, with its tall glass walls and atrium, connecting the interior with the exterior.  The palm trees, on either side of the glass, reinforce this connection.

Marathon Expo at Hawaii Convention Center
The first thing I noticed, at the Expo, was that most signs were in Japanese.  Some signs included a bit of English, but many did not.  The main sponsor, JAL (Japan Airlines), had a large booth as well as a large reception area (I assumed for participants who had arrived in Hawai'i via JAL).

Unlike most marathons, I was informed that the event shirt was only available at the finish line.  This gave additional incentive to finishing.

The Start

It was a bit sobering to learn that the start was at 5:00 am!  At that time it is quite dark, of course, except this was in the heart of a rather large city, so seeing where to go would be no problem.  Additionally, to make navigation really easy, there would be 25,000 other runners, so one could merely follow the herd.  5,000 of those runners were doing the 10k.  Everyone started together.  The start was at Ala Moana Regional Park, located between Ala Moana Boulevard and the water.

It was already warm, 68°, before even starting.  The walk to the start had left me sweating.  For one who runs most of his marathons in the cooler part of the year, in the Pacific Northwest, it would be a hot day.

At the start (0:dark:00)

Once the start began, and the crowd oozed toward the start line, there were fireworks to add to the drama.

Fireworks after the gun has gone off (5:00) and I approach the start line

They came in all shapes and sizes (10:49:06)

Dawn on Kalakaua Ave
At the 10k point, the 10k runners finish in Kapiolani Park.  Shortly after the park, the course begins a one mile climb along the rim of the Diamond Head crater.  A few hundred meters before the crest, the first marathon runner came by.  Shortly behind him was the first participant in a hand crank vehicle.  Just over the crest I saw the second hand crank participant, still climbing.  He looked to be suffering greatly, but was still working very hard.

After a short descent, the course separated from the return route, headed north and started climbing again.  Sigh.  Then we headed northeast, leaving the crater behind.  We would be revisiting it, very late in the race.

Around the crater (numbers indicate distance, in miles)

Skirting Diamond Head (off to the left)
Shortly after Mile 11 the course joins the return route along Kalanianaole Highway.  For the next 4.5 miles we would see the suffering faces of those returning from the loop at the end of this long out and back.

Along Kalanianaole Highway
The loop goes around Kuapa Park.

Kuapa Pond

45 pounds (I asked) 
Coming out of the loop, and finally facing the finish, still a long distance away, one feels a psychological boost.  It was also a chance to see most of the remaining participants, still heading out.                                                                                                              

A lot of chutzpah (though his number was not in the finish results)

At the finish it was clear that the heat had taken a toll on me.  I felt queasy and found a column I could use to lower myself to the ground.  Eventually I got back on my feet and made it back to the AirBnb, to fetch my bag and head out to the airport.  Yeah, a shower would have been nice, but ones does what one can.

Back in Maui for sunset


I finished 14,659 of 18,803 total finishers (8,448 women, 10,355 men), with a time of 7:41:39.  At Los Angeles, nine months earlier, I finished 19,214 of perhaps 19,977, with a time of 7:32:00.  This is much more typical for me - near the very end.  So why does the Honolulu Marathon attract so many mature marathoners?  Perhaps because the  organizers state, right up front, that there is no time limit.  Maybe this is because, in Japan (where the vast majority of the participants came from) the elderly get some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  And least there be any doubt about this being a Japanese marathon, the price for the event photos is in yen.

Photo prices are in yen

No comments:

Post a Comment