Thousands participate in annual Great Aloha Run - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Thousands participate in annual Great Aloha Run

By Ramsay Wharton – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just before 4 am, the roads started to shut down. The START sign went up and thousands of runners started to mass downtown. Nearly 30,000 participants this year, young and old.

"I feel great, said 91 year old Lum Young who just celebrated a birthday three days ago. "It's a little chilly, but we can stand it," he said looking at his two daughters and friends joining him.


Photo Set 1: 2012 Great Aloha Run
Photo Set 2: 2012 Great Aloha Run

For some, this annual event is extra PT, or "physical training."

"Five miles is the standard," said Aaron Sears about his usual PT run with members of the 114th Infantry Battalion at Schofield Barracks. "But it's that extra three, you just gotta push it out."

For others, like Canadian runner, Jamie-Lynn Olson of Ontario, it's a vacation.

"I love that it's a huge fundraiser, that it's not a big money race," said Olson who finished ninth place among the Female Division last year and had to return to Honolulu for this year's event. "Everyone can participate. And I love all the Army and the military. I just think it's great."

A Howitzer cannon rang out the official start of the race at 7:00 a.m.  Participants pounded the pavement for 8.15 miles from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium.

"Let's go Jeremy," yelled one unidentified crowd cheering.

"All the volunteers were great, said Honolulu runner," Chris Bednarek. "Everyone cheering us on all the way really helps out."

Some ran with little clothes on, while others donned costumes for fun or to make a statement. And apparently, the larger number of participants was noticeable to regular GAR runners.

"In year's past, it's always opened up, but this year not," said Bednarek. "When you get past the military guys, there was still an ocean of people and you have to zigzag throughout the whole race. Its like an obstacle course. But it was fun."

While time is important to a lot of the competitors in this race, many weren't preoccupied with it and just wanted to finish the race. This year, one of the new things to help officials with is that participants no longer had to put their electronic timing chips in their shoes; instead it was inside their numbers.

Race officials said this helped solved some of the problems of runners having them fall off, be forgotten or even mixed up with other families and friends.

Sixteen-year-old Tyler Apuna, a student at St. Francis School said the event was, "Tiring." But said, "I ran faster this time."  With a time of 1 hour and 17 seconds.

Musicians kept the mood upbeat as runners entered the stadium. The post run music was pumping as all those hearts were trying to cool down.

"There's a couple of things you really need to avoid, the sun in your eyes," said Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle who participated this year. "Always look for shade, and in my case, run really, really slowly."

"It was awesome," said Jodie Tanga, eight time GAR participant who was pushing her little one in a stroller. "It was really good. This is Dillon. Dillon is 18 months. It's his third Great Aloha Run."

For some service members, this was the first local they'd taken part in since returning from the battlefield.

"Fantastic. Great motivation," said Command Sergeant Major Scott Dooley with the 728th MP Battalion at Schofield Barracks. Dooley and 71 others from his unit recently returned from Afghanistan. He and other soldiers were running in cadence   with the 'Sounds of Freedom' division that included about 4,300 service members from all branches stationed in Hawaii.

And now, thanks to ALL the Great Aloha Run 'road warrior' participants, 60 local charities this year will now be able to spread more of their 'Aloha' within the community. 

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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