Looking for some family fun in the sun this Winter? Head to Hawaii! The Honolulu Marathon, described as “26.2 miles in paradise,” takes place Dec. 10 with pre-race events happening through the week. Join fellow runners in the fourth largest marathon in the United States through this island paradise. If you don’t know much about this amazing race, take a look at our guide to the Honolulu Marathon.
The Honolulu Marathon course begins along the beach at Ala Moana Park at 5 am. Get a full tour of Honolulu as you wind your way to the finish line. The route goes through downtown Honolulu to Waikiki Beach and around Diamond Head Crater, before winding through more residential communities of Honolulu. The course loops back around, ending at Kapiolani Park. These 26.2 miles in the sun climb a few hills, run along beachside roads and pass some of Honolulu’s top tourist attractions.
The race has no cap on participants and accepts runners of all ages, abilities, shapes, and sizes. The marathon is described as a go-at-your-own-pace race with no time limit for the runners. Running 26.2 miles not your thing? Don’t feel bad if you walk part, or even all of the course. Many participants walk the entire marathon course, just have fun and enjoy the scenery. At the finish line, each participant receives a medal just for making it to the end and a race-day t-shirt.
Start to the Park 10K
Don’t want to do the full 26.2 miles? Try this 6.2-mile course instead. The race starts Dec. 10 at 5 am at the same time as the full marathon. Start your race with thousands of others to the sounds of fireworks at beachfront Ala Moana Park and ending at Kapiolani Park. While there is no time limit to finish, the race is chip timed, meaning each runner has a chip noting the exact time it takes them to finish the race.
Kalakaua Merrie Mile
This one-mile race is not like running the mile in gym class. The Merrie Mile begins on Dec. 9 at 7 am through Waikiki Beach, ending with a party and a concert on the beach. The race is open to kids and families and marathon pros alike and is timed with a chip telling each runner how the exact time in which they ran or walked the mile. The name Kalakaua Merrie Mile is named for Hawaiian King Kalakaua, or the Merrie Monarch, who was the last king of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
The Honolulu Marathon lets you register to run for charity to raise money for a partnering organization, like the World Wildlife Fund, Allyson Whitney Foundation, or Save the Children. If you run for charity, not only do you get the benefit of knowing you’ve raised money for an excellent organization, but you also receive VIP entry, a free commemorative photo, a meet and greet for your charity of choice, your own transportation to the starting line, free entry to the pre-race VIP party, a guide to fundraising, and a guide to training.
Honolulu Marathon Expo
Get all the athletic equipment you need at the Honolulu Marathon Expo at the Hawaii Convention Center. For race participants, this is where you can pick up all your pre-race gear from Dec. 7-9. However, you don’t need to be a runner in the races to enjoy all the expo has to offer. Visitors and Honolulu residents can come to enjoy running gear, food, technology and more from vendors such as Powerbar, NPUSA, and more.
It may be December, but it’s December in Honolulu, a city that’s hot year round. If you’re coming in for the marathon weekend, expect temperature highs to be in the 80s with lows in the 70s. It should be cooler at the start time of the marathon, however. Marathon runners need to remember to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. You are welcome to bring your own water bottle on the route with you. If you do not, there are 16 aid stations located along the course passing out water and sports drinks. Marathon spectators, family, and Honolulu visitors should take advantage of all the beaches and pools to cool down.
Heading into Honolulu ahead of the race? Take advantage of “Run Club”, a session of weekly, free training runs. “Run For Fun” in the suburban community of Kapolei happens Monday evenings, “Enjoy the View” happens Wednesday evenings in Kailua, the “Get Fast” run goes through the Kaka’ako neighborhood of Honolulu on Thursday evenings, and the “Go the Distance” run happens Saturday mornings in the Kahala neighborhood of Honolulu. Explore a different part of greater Honolulu while getting tips from professional coaches.
The marathon’s over, now what? Soak up the sun on Waikiki’s famous beaches at Kahanamoku Beach. Swim in the warm ocean, or in the calm waters of the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. For something a little more peaceful, check out Kahala beach, a hidden park known for its beauty. Climb or bike up Diamond Head Crater for spectacular views of city and coast.
Honolulu is more than just beaches, however. If you’re a history buff, head to the Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial and Museum. The Honolulu Museum of Art houses one of the greatest collections of Asian art in the United States and an Art of Hawaii exhibit. If you want to learn something new, we recommend Iolani Palace, the museum of King Kalakaua, and his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii.