events oahu

Honolulu Marathon

The Honolulu Marathon: Race To The Finish Line

Every year on the second Sunday of December, thousands of runners from around the globe compete in the Honolulu Marathon, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious running events.

Honolulu marathon with fireworks in background
Fireworks get everyone’s adrenalin going at the Honolulu Marathon


In 2009, the race was completed by 20,557 runners, making it the eighth-largest marathon in the world and bringing in over $100 million into Hawaii’s economy. Once again surpassing any other single event in Hawaii. No doubt, this event has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1973, when the marathon debuted with 167 participants (including 151 finishers).

Even then, the marathon’s organizers had to know that their event would succeed, appropriately enough, in the long run. With an average December temperature of 81 degrees and pleasant trade winds year-round, avid runners couldn’t ask for a better racing climate.

The Course

And the views from the course? Simply spectacular. It’s not unusual to see camera-toting runners stopping along the way to take photos of the stunning views around them.

The 26.2-mile course originates on Ala Moana Boulevard in Honolulu, then heads west towards the downtown business district before turning and heading back towards Diamond Head. The runners then race through Kahala and Hawaii Kai before turning back for the finish line at Waikiki Beach.


A lot of work goes into the Honolulu Marathon, and we’re not just referring to the runners. Some 9,900 volunteers help this event “run” smoothly from start to finish. What’s more, marathon officials estimate that the runners go through about 1,900,000 drinking cups, 150,000 oatmeal cookies and nearly 4,500 rolls of toilet paper, to name just a few of the details.

Ibrahim Hussein of Kenya holds the event record, finishing the marathon in 2:11:43 in 1986. Another international competitor, Lyubov Morgunoun of Russia, set the women’s mark in 2000 with a time of 2:28:33.

Of course, you don’t need to be a world-class runner to take part in the Honolulu Marathon. All it takes is proper training, a good pair of shoes and the desire to run a few miles (okay, more than a few) with 25,000 of your closest friends. On your mark, get set…!