Tips For Honolulu Marathon Runners


Jason Perez

From old to young, with the right training anyone can conquer a marathon.

A marathon in paradise is not as easy as the island life. When it comes to the first-time marathoner, a 26.2-mile race can be intimidating. While adding an intense amount of heat and without an idea of what is to come you might end up hating your body in the end of the race. Each marathon is challenging, but the Honolulu Marathon is much more difficult with the humidity and elevation changes. As a veteran runner of the Honolulu Marathon in 2014 and five Los Angeles Marathons, hopefully these few tips will help make the Honolulu Marathon enjoyable and comfortable.

  1. A Dark Start

Starting at 5 a.m. in the dark may be a bit surprising to some runners. However, there is a reason why the Honolulu Marathon starts so early. Runners are greeted with a beautiful display of fireworks at the start to kick off the race rather than a bullhorn or a gunshot. The early start brings a cool wave of refreshing winds for a rather humid race. The sun comes up around 7 a.m. giving a full two hours of cold breezes.    

  1. Hydration

Drinking water is essential when running a marathon. Thankfully, the Honolulu Marathon knows this well and has an abundance of water stations throughout the course. However, do not over drink while running. Drink what is needed and continue to the next mile or water station. An important note is to take sports drinks during the first few water stations as they provide carbs, sodium and electrolytes. This particular marathon provides sports drinks and gels early on in the race, but become scarce towards the end.  

  1. Running Attire

Choose running attire wisely. The heat is no joke for this marathon. Proper running attire is lightweight and keeps sweat from collecting. Unlike cotton shirts and shorts, proper attire is tight and hugs the body preventing chafing. For the Honolulu Marathon, I preferred to use Under Armour shirts as they kept me warm and dry.

  1. Start to Finish

The Honolulu Marathon starts on Ala Moana (in front of the mall) and ends in Kapiolani Park. Be sure to alert family and friends as the race does not finish where it starts. The last few miles are very beautiful with scenic routes of the oceanside going through Diamond Head and Kapiolani Park.  

  1. Preserve Stamina

Slow and steady wins the race. This is not a test of speed but stamina. There are 26.2 miles, some of which include hills, both big and small. Go at the speed that you have practiced for. This way you preserve the energy when it is needed. The main part where your stamina is needed will be through Diamond Head hill at miles 8 to 10 and in the final stretch of miles 24 to 26. An important note is that mile 24 is mainly uphill around Diamond Head.  

  1. Humidity

The Honolulu Marathon is unlike any other marathon as Hawaii is very humid. This year, the humidity is predicted to be at 54 percent with high temperatures on Sunday around 78 degrees. Depending if the weather changes, prepare for high humidity along the long stretches of Kalanianaole Highway (out and back) as there is little to no shade.

  1. The Wall

There will be a time during the marathon that is known as hitting the wall. This is a feeling of exhaustion and negativity about the race. This typically happens around miles 18 through 20 depending on the runner. For me during the Honolulu Marathon, this occurred during the loop around Koko Head and on the way back to the finish line. Once you hit the wall it will be difficult to overcome, however stay positive. Talk to yourself and imagine the finish line. Eat some snacks such as gels and jelly beans at water stations. This will help your mind and body make it to the end. Avoid the negative and think about the accomplishment that you will achieve. You’ve made it this far. Don’t give up.