Honolulu Marathon

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Honolulu Marathon
Start of the Honolulu Marathon in 2015
DateSecond Sunday in December
LocationHonolulu, Hawaii, US
Event typeRoad
Primary sponsorJapan Airlines (JAL)
Established1973 (50 years ago) (1973)
Course recordsMen: 2:07:59 (2019)
Titus Ekiru
Women: 2:22:15 (2017)
Brigid Kosgei
Official sitehonolulumarathon.org
Participants18,805 finishers (2019)[1]
19,749 finishers (2018)[2]

The Honolulu Marathon (branded JAL Honolulu Marathon for sponsorship reasons) is a marathon (26.2 miles or 42.2km) in Honolulu, Hawaii, first held on December 16, 1973. It is one of the world's largest marathons,[3] taking place annually on the second Sunday in December.[4] The marathon is popular for its location in Hawaii, and is also popular among first-time marathoners, many of whom are visitors from Japan.

The 40th Honolulu Marathon, held in 2012, had 30,898 registrants, and was the second-largest marathon in the United States that year, behind the Chicago Marathon.


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]

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.[9]

Organizers decided not to hold the 2020 in-person edition of the race on its original date in December due to the coronavirus pandemic, but reserved the option to postpone it to an alternate date in the first half of 2021.[10][11][12] All registrants were given the option of running the race virtually or transferring their entry to 2021.[10][a]


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[edit]

The Honolulu Marathon has been popular with U.S. military personnel stationed in Hawaii.[citation needed] 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.[13]

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%.[14]


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 and 1995 winner Josia Thugwane won the gold medal, both in the 1996 Olympic Marathon in Atlanta.

Key:    Course record (in bold)

Filex Kiprotich, the winner in 2015
Year Male Winner Time Female Winner Time Rf.
1973  Duncan Macdonald (USA)[b] 2:27:34  June Chun (USA)[b] 3:25:31
1974  Jeff Galloway (USA)[c] 2:23:02  Cindy Dalrymple (USA)[b] 3:01:59
1975  Jack Foster (NZL) 2:17:24  Jacqueline Hansen (USA)[d] 2:49:24
1976  Duncan Macdonald (USA)[b] 2:20:37  Kim Merritt (USA)[e] 2:44:44
1977  Jeff Wells (USA)[f] 2:18:38  Cindy Dalrymple (USA)[b] 2:48:08
1978  Don Kardong (USA)[g] 2:17:05  Patti Lyons (USA)[h] 2:43:10
1979  Dean Matthews (USA)[i] 2:16:13  Patti Lyons (USA)[h] 2:40:07
1980  Duncan Macdonald (USA)[d] 2:16:55  Patti Lyons Catalano (USA)[h] 2:35:26
1981  Jon Anderson (USA)[j] 2:16:54  Patti Lyons Catalano (USA)[h] 2:33:24
1982  Dave Gordon (USA)[g] 2:15:30  Eileen Claugus (USA)[d] 2:41:11
1983  Kevin Ryan (NZL) 2:20:19  Annick Loir-Lebreton (FRA) 2:41:25
1984  Jorge González (PRI) 2:16:25  Patti Gray (USA)[d] 2:42:50
1985  Ibrahim Hussein (KEN) 2:12:08  Carla Beurskens (NED) 2:35:51
1986  Ibrahim Hussein (KEN) 2:11:43  Carla Beurskens (NED) 2:31:01
1987  Ibrahim Hussein (KEN) 2:18:26  Carla Beurskens (NED) 2:35:11
1988  Gianni Poli (ITA) 2:12:47  Cyndie Welte (USA)[k] 2:41:52
1989  Simon Robert Naali (TAN) 2:11:47  Carla Beurskens (NED) 2:31:50
1990  Simon Robert Naali (TAN) 2:17:29  Carla Beurskens (NED) 2:33:34
1991  Benson Masya (KEN) 2:18:24  Ritva Lemettinen (FIN) 2:40:11
1992  Benson Masya (KEN) 2:14:19  Carla Beurskens (NED) 2:32:13
1993  Lee Bong-Ju (KOR) 2:13:16  Carla Beurskens (NED) 2:32:20
1994  Benson Masya (KEN) 2:15:04  Carla Beurskens (NED) 2:37:06
1995  Josia Thugwane (RSA) 2:16:08  Colleen De Reuck (RSA) 2:37:29
1996  Eric Kimaiyo (KEN) 2:13:23  Ramilya Burangulova (RUS) 2:34:28
1997  Eric Kimaiyo (KEN) 2:12:17  Svetlana Zakharova (RUS) 2:33:14
1998  Mbarak Kipkorir Hussein (KEN) 2:14:53  Irina Bogachova (KGZ) 2:33:27
1999  Jimmy Muindi (KEN) 2:16:45  Irina Bogachova (KGZ) 2:32:36
2000  Jimmy Muindi (KEN) 2:15:19  Lyubov Morgunova (RUS) 2:28:33
2001  Mbarak Kipkorir Hussein (KEN) 2:15:09  Lyubov Morgunova (RUS) 2:29:54
2002  Mbarak Kipkorir Hussein (KEN) 2:12:29  Svetlana Zakharova (RUS) 2:29:08
2003  Jimmy Muindi (KEN) 2:12:59  Eri Hayakawa (JPN) 2:31:56
2004  Jimmy Muindi (KEN) 2:11:12  Lyubov Morgunova (RUS) 2:27:33
2005  Jimmy Muindi (KEN) 2:12:00  Olesya Nurgalieva (RUS) 2:30:24
2006  Ambesse Tolosa (ETH) 2:13:42  Lyubov Denisova (RUS) 2:27:19
2007  Jimmy Muindi (KEN) 2:18:53  Alevtina Biktimirova (RUS) 2:33:07
2008  Patrick Ivuti (KEN) 2:14:35  Kiyoko Shimahara (JPN) 2:32:36
2009  Patrick Ivuti (KEN) 2:12:14  Svetlana Zakharova (RUS) 2:28:34
2010  Nicholas Chelimo (KEN) 2:15:18  Belaynesh Zemedkun (ETH) 2:32:13
2011  Nicholas Chelimo (KEN) 2:14:55  Woynishet Girma (ETH) 2:31:41
2012  Wilson Kipsang (KEN) 2:12:31  Valentina Galimova (RUS) 2:31:23
2013  Gilbert Chepkwony (KEN) 2:18:46  Ehitu Kiros (ETH) 2:36:02
2014  Wilson Chebet (KEN) 2:15:35  Joyce Chepkirui (KEN) 2:30:23
2015  Filex Kiprotich (KEN) 2:11:42  Joyce Chepkirui (KEN) 2:28:34
2016  Lawrence Cherono (KEN) 2:09:39  Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:31:11
2017  Lawrence Cherono (KEN) 2:08:27  Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:22:15
2018  Titus Ekiru (KEN) 2:09:01  Vivian Jerono Kiplagat (KEN) 2:36:22 [15]
2019  Titus Ekiru (KEN) 2:07:59  Margaret Muriuki (KEN) 2:31:09 [1]
2020 suspended due to coronavirus pandemic[l] [10]
2021  Emmanuel Saina (KEN) 2:14:30  Lanni Marchant (CAN) 2:41:24 [16]
2022  Asefa Mengstu (ETH) 2:14:40  Asayech Ayalew Bere (ETH) 2:30:58

2007 winner disqualified[edit]

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.[17]


  • 2002 Grant Hirohata-Goto, 33

Timing problems in 2007[edit]

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.[18]


  1. ^ If the 2020 marathon is to be held on an alternate date, this would result in the possibility of both the 2020 and 2021 Honolulu Marathons being held in 2021, and registrants who did not run the race virtually would have the option of transferring their entry to either the (postponed) 2020 marathon, or the 2021 marathon.[10]
  2. ^ a b c d e From Hawaii
  3. ^ From Georgia
  4. ^ a b c d From California
  5. ^ From Wisconsin
  6. ^ From Texas
  7. ^ a b From Washington
  8. ^ a b c d From Massachusetts
  9. ^ From South Carolina
  10. ^ From Oregon
  11. ^ From Ohio
  12. ^ It is unclear whether the marathon would be postponed or cancelled.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Honolulu Marathon". Archived from the original on 2020-10-25.
  2. ^ "Honolulu Marathon 2018". Archived from the original on 25 October 2020.
  3. ^ "AIMS - World's Largest Marathons". aims-worldrunning.org. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  4. ^ "Honolulu Marathon". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  5. ^ "You searched for historybyyear". Honolulu Marathon. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  6. ^ a b Moore, Kenny (27 February 1978). "Honolulu Marathon Clinic". Sports Illustrated. pp. 60–68. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  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. ^ "Road Closures for the 2012 Honolulu Marathon". Hawaii News Now. December 8, 2012. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Update - 2020 Honolulu Marathon". 9 September 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-10-23.
  11. ^ "Honolulu Marathon goes virtual amid pandemic". 23 October 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-10-23.
  12. ^ Honolulu Marathon canceled due to coronavirus pandemic
  13. ^ Satellite Races
  14. ^ "Champions 1973-2006". Honolulu Marathon. 2001-12-21. Archived from the original on 2007-05-15. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  15. ^ "Honolulu Marathon 2018". Archived from the original on 2020-10-25.
  16. ^ Honolulu Marathon. (2021, December 12). Pseresults.Com. Retrieved December 29, 2021, from https://pseresults.com/events/1207/results
  17. ^ "Honolulu Marathon winner disqualified". Pacific Business News. June 24, 2008. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  18. ^ "All 24,000 Honolulu Marathon times flawed". Honolulu Advertiser. 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2007-12-14.

Further reading[edit]

  • Moore, Kenny (27 February 1978). "Honolulu Marathon Clinic". Sports Illustrated. pp. 60–68. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  • Scaff Jr, Jack (1988). Your First Marathon: The Honolulu Marathon Clinic's Rules of the Road. Honolulu: Kakui Plaza Medical Associates.

External links[edit]