Disclaimer: I received entry to the Honolulu Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro Ambassador. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! While the opportunity came my way thanks to the awesome group, all views and opinions are mine.
*LONG POST WARNING!!!*
If there was one word to describe this marathon I’d say it is…. AMAZING!! It truly doesn’t feel like you’re running 26.2M/42.2K. I had a bit of a crazy lead up to the event, 5 weeks off and had an awful 28K run two weeks before race day thanks to my ongoing foot pain. I knew going into the Honolulu Marathon that it was going to be my last run for a while. It was definitely my last run of 2016 and I was certainly glad to be on the brink of a break!
So after the Kalakaua Merrie Mile it was an early night as we prepared for the Marathon. I’m normally a night before girl to get ready but for some reason I looked at getting my stuff together in the afternoon, and good thing that I did – I had actually left my iPod charger on the kitchen counter back in Australia! A quick trip to the Apple Store fixed that as I obtained a new cable and I was able to charge up the iPod ready for the run (since I wasn’t smart enough to charge it before I left).
Fast forward to race morning and I was super excited to get up and run! The hotel was about 1K from the start line, so it was an easy walk along the main road, and there was no shortage of people walking alongside us, I could tell that there was going to be a BIG race!!
There were starting “corrals” based on the time that you expected to finish. I was able to find the 5-6 hour starting point, but as soon the fireworks went off the crowd just stopped to watch. That said, it was an incredible fireworks display – lasting a few minutes. Luckily the outside of the crowd still moved forward as we wandered to the start line. Now I saw corrals but realistically it’s just a rolling mass of people, it’s incredible to think that you’re in a crowd of 30,000 people!
You know you’ve hit the start lime when people start running, and it was awesome to run through Downtown Honolulu, past the Aloha Tower and then running past the Christmas Lights. These lights are amazing to see and definitely worth running the marathon for!
One thing I noticed early on was that it was quite humid! And to think that I had another 38 odd-km to go! We made the loop and ended up back on Ala Moana Blvd, where we started not too long ago, and then past Waikiki Beach. It’s always awesome to run past amazing locations, you just have to take it all in! The course then winds it’s way through Waikiki Beach and around Diamond Head – where you’ll experience High-Five Hill. This hill is pretty awesome! The volunteers who are on course marshals are amazingly enthusiastic, cheering all the runners on and yep – giving everyone high-fives!!
Everywhere you look the view was amazing! I encountered some trouble with my foot early on (it started going numb at the 1K mark) but by 15K my foot was killing me and I was hot. It was really hot out on the course and I became worried about this. The next aid station had bags of ice and ziplock bags so I was able to stop, grab some ice & hit up the medical tent for some vaseline. I found that by using the ice, sipping water and then putting my BUFF in water at every aid station, I was able to make the head much more manageable, and this didn’t worry me for the rest of the course. So what about the foot? Well I made use of the Satohap stop, it’s some sort of spray pain reliever (apparently you can only use 2-3 times a day) and I didn’t hear anything of it prior to the Honolulu Marathon but they had an awesome display at the Expo which I was bummed about missing (since I didn’t know about the product). I’m not sure what exactly that spray did but I felt like I was on fresh legs.
I was still maintaining my run/walk intervals however around the 21K mark I had to take a couple of extended walk periods, the foot was starting to bug me again and I knew I had to take it easy to get the most out of it. This was on the highway stretch where runners coming back were on the other side. It was easy to figure out the distance to travel since the flags had a much shorter countdown to the finish. I kept an eye out on the other side of the road to see if I could spot any of the other BibRave Pros running.
Along the course there were so many runners on the side of the road, I’m not sure that I’ve been in a race where people were just chilling out on the sides. With no time limit, you certainly can take your time! It was great to experience a race where there were lots of people at my pace (I’m not super fast but I’ll super give it my all!!!).
I made it about 25K (about 15 miles) before I realised that I had actually run 25K, which I don’t think is a bad thing. The scenery was absolutely amazing as we ran a loop in Hawaii Kai and started the 10Kish route back!! What was awesome about the way back was the sponges and the hoses that everyone had on the course, it was hot and this was one GREAT way to cool down! I must say the crowd support in Hawaii Kai was awesome – lots of locals were out cheering and it was great motivation to power through!
One thing to remember that the way back includes running around Diamond Head again – with the incline! Oh Dang!!! I got to the 35K mark and my foot was hurting real bad. I knew that there wasn’t too much longer to go, although it felt like the longest time in the world. I had completely slowed down, not from heat but from the numbness/pain.
The main street that you turn up which head up and around Diamond Head has some incredible houses, it looked like a whole lot of consulates take up residence on the course – and these houses are super nice! By this stage (37K) my foot was actually no longer communicating with my brain. I tried to start running again but unfortunately my foot wasn’t picking up the signals which was startling but also quite interesting. I’d never gotten to the stage where my foot injury (or issue) was this bad. I resigned to the fact that I was going to have to walk to the finish line in order to get my medal!
The best thing about walking the last 5K? Completely enjoying where I was. So while my goal time passed, I was focusing on taking in the view and powering on until the finish. The only thing in my way? The Diamond Head hill! It was now 6 hours into the race, and I knew it was going to be another hour out on the course. It was hot and I was ready to finish.
Up the hill were the amazing drummers, one thing I knew to look out for from seeing last year’s Honolulu Marathon pics. They were so awesome beating the drums enticing you to power up the hill – whether you were running or walking. The downhill was actually harder than the uphill as it felt like it took forever. I completely ugly cried as I walked down the flat, on my way to the finish.
42K (Yep, ugly crying) and THE FINISH!!! Omg I can’t tell you how relieved I was – this was a hard fought journey and I made it!!
One thing that’s super fun about the race is that you don’t know what the medal or the finishers shirt looks like until the end. And it’s completely worth it. The surprise makes the journey completely worth it. I was a mess though – and completed the distance in 7:08. I was hot and it was hard to walk. As soon as I finished I collected my shell necklace (so cool to get one) and medal, then the finishers shirt and I went to look for the malasadas (which were piping hot). YUMMM!!!!
To wrap it up, the Honolulu Marathon is an incredible race. The people and volunteers are friendly, everyone is in great spirits and it feels like a 26.2mile/42.2K party. It’s definitely one I need to come back to in the future (when my foot is better) to get my redemption!