After a week’s rest on the island of Maui, I arrived on the island of Oahu to run the Honolulu marathon.
I had picked up my bib the day before and, after a short night’s sleep, got up at 4 a.m. well rested and in good shape: my week’s rest was paying off. I took my three packets of Immun’Âge® as I usually do before a marathon and drank an aloe vera juice for breakfast before walking twenty minutes to the start. It was close to 72° F, same weather conditions as in Saint Martin, my home island in the Caribbean.
The start area was crowded with people as the Honolulu marathon has no entry limits. The event is open to everyone: runners (in my mind an endangered species when it comes to marathons!) as well as walkers. Moreover, the marathon has no cut-off time and the course is open until the last person crosses the finish line. I was told that this is in keeping with the “Aloha spirit” of Hawaii. And I was advised to take place at the forefront of the pack since the numerous walkers that register for this race usually block the runners’ path. Accustomed to the problem, I took the advice!
I waited a few minutes until the start was kicked off at 5 a.m. by beautiful fireworks. We started on Ala Moana Boulevard that runs along the seaside for almost two miles: “ala moana” in Hawaiian means “path by the ocean.” My pace was good and I reached km 5 in 30 minutes.
After a loop via Kapiolani Boulevard, we returned to the start area to head towards downtown. It was still dark and we could not see the scenery surrounding us. It felt as if we were running on a palm tree-lined avenue in the center of just another big American city. I reached km 10 in 1:01. I felt well and my pace was steady. Everything was fine. I was very disappointed when I found out that there was no Gatorade at each aid stop. I find this quite scandalous considering both the registration fee and the weather conditions.
We left the city and, at km 12, ran a long ascent followed by a series of uphills and downhills for several kilometers. The course though remained rather fast. I reached km 15 in 1:34. A French runner from the north-eastern region of Lorraine congratulated me and we talked for a while. Nice! The day broke on a scenery that was nothing special: we were just running on a large highway that had been closed to traffic but with no view to the seaside. I reached km 20 in 2:06 and the half-marathon in 2:12: this was not bad at all and, above all, my pace was regular. I felt light and went on keeping this good tempo.
We continued running on this long and endless avenue. At km 25 (which I reached in 2:37) we finally could see the Pacific Ocean and the beach just a few minutes before taking a short three-kilometer loop. Then we took the long avenue again before heading back towards the finish area. The sun was shining but fortunately, clouds were protecting us from its powerful rays. We crossed the participants that were behind us and I clearly noticed the enormous number of walkers. There were even “traffic jams” in several places.
I passed km 30 in 3:10. I kept up my pace and realized that I could make a good time. I sped up still running on this long avenue towards km 35 that I reached in 3:43. The course curved left towards a residential neighborhood along the seaside but once again we were unable to see the ocean.
We ran the same hills back which allowed us to overlook the coast. We finally got a great view of the scenery! I took a few beautiful pictures trying to not waste too much time. I reached km 40 in 4:18. A long downhill led us back downtown and we ran into the Kapiolani Park towards the finish area. I ran the marathon distance in 4:33:23 and crossed the finish line five hundred meters farther in 4:36:27. I ranked 2,742nd out of the 28,646 people who finished the marathon.
I took my three Immun’Âge® packets, took a few pictures and quickly got something to eat before heading to Waikiki Beach as I could not wait to cool off in the sea.
The run was engaging and the course quite fast but, in my opinion, the event is oversold: it did not make me dream…. The site sells very well a marathon that won’t let you discover the genuine beauty of the island of Oahu. I found the registration fee of $245 ($325 the day before the run) quite inflated despite the very beautiful medal.
As Japan Airlines was the main sponsor of this marathon, more than 75% of the participants were Japanese. Everything was written in Japanese and it was sometimes a bit unsettling for me.
After some rest, I visited the beautiful Oahu before going back to the continent to run my 52nd and last marathon of my 2016 Challenge (52 marathons in 52 weeks) in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Aloha! Have a great week!