Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu Marathon
Date Second Sunday in December
2015: December 13, 2015[1]
Location Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Event type Road
Distance Marathon
Primary sponsor Japan Airlines (JAL)
Established 1973
Course records Men: 2:11:12 (2004)
Jimmy Muindi
Women: 2:27:19 (2006)
Lyubov Denisova
Official site honolulumarathon.org

The Honolulu Marathon (branded JAL Honolulu Marathon for sponsorship reasons) is a major 26.2-mile (42.2 km) marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is one of the world's largest marathons,[2] taking place annually on the second Sunday in December.[3] The marathon is popular for its exotic location in Hawaii, and is also popular among first-time marathoners, many of whom are visitors from Japan. In addition to title sponsor Japan Airlines, the marathon is also sponsored (as of 2012) by Adidas, MUFG Financial Group, NTT Docomo, and Sato Pharmaceuticals USA.

The 2012 Honolulu Marathon was held on Sunday, December 9, 2012. The field for the 40th Honolulu Marathon reached 30,898 entries at the marathon expo at the Hawaii Convention Center. 16,067 of those registered entrants were from Japan. The 2012 marathon was the largest in 15 years, and the second largest in America of 2012, only surpassed by the Chicago Marathon.[4]


Honolulu Marathon 2006

The race began in 1973. During its formative period (1973–1978) the Honolulu Marathon doubled in size every year—a rate that has been equaled only once.[5] That growth, like the growth of long-distance running itself, came about not from an interest in competition, but from a quest for personal longevity and an enhanced quality of life.[6] Former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi has been inducted in the Honolulu Marathon Hall of Fame after documents proved that he was the true founder of the race 40 years ago.

Mayor Fasi died in 2010. With the Honolulu Marathon just days away, race officials say they have undisputed proof that Fasi made it all happen.

"We were clearing out some files and we saw a box labeled 1973 and we saw the documents that showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mayor Fasi was the creator and the founder of the marathon," said Jim Barahal, Honolulu Marathon President.

Now drawing more than 20,000 entries a year, the Honolulu Marathon is one of the biggest in the country. Back in 1973, there wasn't widespread interest in it. But Mayor Fasi knew about the Boston Marathon, and saw its potential here. At the forefront of the growth of the Honolulu Marathon was cardiologist Jack Scaff, one of the first physicians to prescribe running as therapy for heart disease. In 1977 Sports Illustrated's senior writer and Olympic marathoner Kenny Moore wrote a feature story about the race. That article was soon followed by the book "The Honolulu Marathon," by journalist Mark Hazard Osmun; the book was a revelatory chronicle of the then-unfolding social craze called the "Running Boom," as exemplified in the Honolulu event.

Over time, the race grew and changed, luring large corporate sponsors and paying substantial prize money to the winners. In 1995, the Honolulu Marathon enjoyed the distinction of being the world's largest marathon when it drew 34,434 entrants and had 27,022 finishers.[7]

Unique to the Honolulu Marathon among American marathons is its popularity among runners from Japan, where there are very few marathons open to all entrants. In recent years, the majority of entrants have been visitors from Japan. The marathon is popular enough that the Honolulu Marathon Association maintains an office in Tokyo to process entries. Japan Air Lines has been the title sponsor of the race since 1985.

In 2008, 14,406 of the total 23,231 entries were from Japan, which made up nearly 62.0 percent of the field.[8]


Starting near Ala Moana Beach Park across from Ala Moana Center, the course progresses west along the waterfront toward downtown Honolulu, then loops through downtown and bends back east through Waikiki, around Diamond Head, and out toward the eastern suburbs of Honolulu, winding through Hawaii Kai before doubling back toward the finish line at Waikiki's Kapiolani Park. Marathoners consider the course moderately difficult because of the tropical weather conditions, with temperatures starting at around 65 °F (18 °C) and rising to as high as 80 °F (27 °C), and a relatively hilly course compared with other marathons. Nevertheless, the race also remains a popular choice for first-time marathoners.[6]

Satellite races in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Honolulu Marathon has been popular with U.S. military personnel stationed in Hawaii. With many Hawaii-based troops deployed abroad, the marathon coordinated with the military to organize satellite marathon races on U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan on the same day as the main race, with finishers receiving the same T-shirts and medals. The first such race was held in 2004 at a U.S. base in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan. In 2005, the marathon organized a similar race at Camp Victory in Baghdad.[9]

On Dec. 12, 2010, the 43rd Sustainment Brigade, home stationed in Fort Carson, Colo., now deployed to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, organized a satellite run on the base. Nearly 135 people from several different nations participated in the run.


In recent years, on average, about 25,000 runners finish the Honolulu Marathon each year, and it has consistently placed among the world's ten largest marathons in terms of total finishers. Entry to the Honolulu Marathon is open to anyone who can pay the entry fee. Unlike other marathons of similar size, popularity, and stature, there are no qualifying standards to meet, no fixed limits on the number of runners, and no time limit to finish the course (all runners receive an official time and certificate).

Over the past 34 years, more than 585,000 runners have started the Honolulu Marathon, with over 482,000 finishers, for a finishing rate of over 82%.[10]


Although the difficulty of the course precludes world-record pace performances, winners of the Honolulu Marathon have used it as a stepping stone to greater achievements. For instance, three-time winner Ibrahim Hussein of Kenya later won the Boston Marathon three times; and 1993 winner Bong-Ju Lee won the silver medal in the 1996 Olympic Marathon in Atlanta.


Year Athlete Country Time
1973 Duncan Macdonald  United States (Hawaii) 2:27:34
1974 Jeff Galloway  United States (Georgia) 2:23:02
1975 Jack Foster  New Zealand 2:17:24
1976 Duncan Macdonald  United States (Hawaii) 2:20:37
1977 Jeff Wells  United States (Texas) 2:18:38
1978 Don Kardong  United States (Washington) 2:17:05
1979 Dean Matthews  United States (South Carolina) 2:16:13
1980 Duncan Macdonald  United States (California) 2:16:55
1981 Jon Anderson  United States (Oregon) 2:16:54
1982 Dave Gordon  United States (Washington) 2:15:30
1983 Kevin Ryan  New Zealand 2:20:19
1984 Jorge González  Puerto Rico 2:16:25
1985 Ibrahim Hussein  Kenya 2:12:08
1986 Ibrahim Hussein  Kenya 2:11:43
1987 Ibrahim Hussein  Kenya 2:18:26
1988 Gianni Poli  Italy 2:12:47
1989 Simon Robert Naali  Tanzania 2:11:47
1990 Simon Robert Naali  Tanzania 2:17:29
1991 Benson Masya  Kenya 2:18:24
1992 Benson Masya  Kenya 2:14:19
1993 Lee Bong-Ju  South Korea 2:13:16
1994 Benson Masya  Kenya 2:15:04
1995 Josia Thugwane  South Africa 2:16:08
1996 Erick Kimaiyo  Kenya 2:13:23
1997 Erick Kimaiyo  Kenya 2:12:17
1998 Mbarak Kipkorir Hussein  Kenya 2:14:53
1999 Jimmy Muindi  Kenya 2:16:45
2000 Jimmy Muindi  Kenya 2:15:19
2001 Mbarak Kipkorir Hussein  Kenya 2:15:09
2002 Mbarak Kipkorir Hussein  Kenya 2:12:29
2003 Jimmy Muindi  Kenya 2:12:59
2004 Jimmy Muindi  Kenya 2:11:12 (race record)
2005 Jimmy Muindi  Kenya 2:12:00
2006 Ambesse Tolosa  Ethiopia 2:13:42
2007 Jimmy Muindi  Kenya 2:18:53
2008 Patrick Ivuti  Kenya 2:14:35
2009 Patrick Ivuti  Kenya 2:12:14
2010 Nicholas Chelimo  Kenya 2:15:18
2011 Nicholas Chelimo  Kenya 2:14:55
2012 Wilson Kipsang  Kenya 2:12:31
2013 Gilbert Chepkwony  Kenya 2:18:46
2014 Wilson Chebet  Kenya 2:15:35
2015 Filex Kiprotich  Kenya 2:11:42


Year Athlete Country Time
1973 June Chun  United States (Hawaii) 3:25:31
1974 Cindy Dalrymple  United States (Hawaii) 3:01:59
1975 Jacqueline Hansen  United States (California) 2:49:24
1976 Kim Merritt  United States (Wisconsin) 2:44:44
1977 Cindy Dalrymple  United States (Hawaii) 2:48:08
1978 Patti Lyons  United States (Massachusetts) 2:43:10
1979 Patti Lyons  United States (Massachusetts) 2:40:07
1980 Patti Lyons Catalano  United States (Massachusetts) 2:35:26
1981 Patti Lyons Catalano  United States (Massachusetts) 2:33:24
1982 Eileen Claugus  United States (California) 2:41:11
1983 Annick Loir-Lebreton  France 2:41:25
1984 Patti Gray  United States (California) 2:42:50
1985 Carla Beurskens  Netherlands 2:35:51
1986 Carla Beurskens  Netherlands 2:31:01
1987 Carla Beurskens  Netherlands 2:35:11
1988 Cyndie Welte  United States (Ohio) 2:41:52
1989 Carla Beurskens  Netherlands 2:31:50
1990 Carla Beurskens  Netherlands 2:33:34
1991 Ritva Lemettinen  Finland 2:40:11
1992 Carla Beurskens  Netherlands 2:32:13
1993 Carla Beurskens  Netherlands 2:32:20
1994 Carla Beurskens  Netherlands 2:37:06
1995 Colleen De Reuck  South Africa 2:37:29
1996 Ramilya Burangulova  Russia 2:34:28
1997 Svetlana Zakharova  Russia 2:33:14
1998 Irina Bogachova  Kyrgyzstan 2:33:27
1999 Irina Bogachova  Kyrgyzstan 2:32:36
2000 Lyubov Morgunova  Russia 2:28:33
2001 Lyubov Morgunova  Russia 2:29:54
2002 Svetlana Zakharova  Russia 2:29:08
2003 Eri Hayakawa  Japan 2:31:56
2004 Lyubov Morgunova  Russia 2:27:33
2005 Olesya Nurgalieva  Russia 2:30:24
2006 Lyubov Denisova  Russia 2:27:19
2007 Alevtina Biktimirova  Russia 2:33:07
2008 Kiyoko Shimahara  Japan 2:32:36
2009 Svetlana Zakharova  Russia 2:28:34
2010 Belaynesh Zemedkun  Ethiopia 2:32:13
2011 Woynishet Girma  Ethiopia 2:31:41
2012 Valentina Galimova  Russia 2:31:23
2013 Ehitu Kiros  Ethiopia 2:36:02
2014 Joyce Chepkirui  Kenya 2:30:23
2015 Joyce Chepkirui  Kenya 2:28:34

2007 winner disqualified

Ethiopian Ambesse Tolossa was disqualified as the men's champion because the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found he had a banned substance in his system.[11]


Timing problems in 2007

In 2007 the Marathon organizers switched from the ChampionChip timing system they had used since 2000 to a new system from SAI which utilized a smaller, lighter, chip implanted in a strip of paper. For a myriad of reasons that are not yet entirely clear (heavy rains, improper usage, failed generators) the timing devices apparently failed to accurately record the start, split and finish times of all 24,300 participants, forcing race officials to manually review finish line video tape of all 24,000+ runners in order to confirm their correct finishing times.[12]


  1. http://www.honolulumarathon.org/?s=raceinfo
  2. http://aimsworldrunning.org/statistics/World%27s_Largest_Marathons.html#2007
  3. "Honolulu Marathon". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  4. http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/20294971/road-closures-for-the-honolulu-marathon
  5. Honolulu Marathon History
  6. 1 2 Moore, Kenny (27 February 1978). "Honolulu Marathon Clinic". Sports Illustrated: 60–68.
  7. Cisco, Dan (1999). Hawai'i sports: history, facts, and statistics. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 0-8248-2121-1. p. 228.
  8. Japan Entrants
  9. Satellite Races
  10. "Champions 1973-2006". Honolulu Marathon. 2001-12-21. Archived from the original on 2007-05-15. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  11. Pacific Business News 24 June 2008
  12. "All 24,000 Honolulu Marathon times flawed". Honolulu Advertiser. 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2007-12-14.

Further reading

External links

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