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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Next month's Honolulu Marathon will be one of the largest events in the race's 40-year history. Runners are signing up in record numbers which means millions of dollars being pumped into Hawaii's economy. Since people can still sign up until the day before the December 9 race, the final count is expected to exceed 31,000 entries.
Gaston Ly is training for his sixth Honolulu Marathon. The assistant manager at The Running Room is thrilled about the predicted turnout.
"I want to say like it's crowd support where there's a lot more people so that you're never at a point where you feel discouraged," said Ly.
The marathon experienced a slight drop in entries in 2011 due to the Japan tsunami. For this year race, 29,821 runners have already signed up. Organizers said the figure is 26% more than last year's total, with large increases from Japan and Hawaii. Factors behind the surge include this year's 40th anniversary and more marketing overseas.
"Japan Airlines and Adidas Japan have really promoted the race and I think that's increasing the Japanese numbers. I think the airline seat capacity has also picked up," said Honolulu Marathon president Dr. Jim Barahal.
A study by Hawaii Pacific University showed last year's race generated more than $107 million in spending and $5 million in taxes. This new surge from Japan translates into big bucks.
"If they stay the same amount of days and spend the same amount of money per day as they did last year, there's about a 10 million dollar increase just in spending. Just in spending. The economic impact will definitely be over $110 million for Hawaii," said Jerry Agrusa, professor of Travel Industry Management at Hawaii Pacific University.
Businesses like The Running Room rely on the race to speed up sales.
"The marathon is our biggest time of the year and it also helps that Christmas is in that month as well," said Lerma Nakashima, manager of The Running Room.
"Our challenge beyond this year is to make sure this isn't a one-time increase and we want to establish the event at this level and try to grow from here," said Barahal.
Barahal said a few people from the canceled New York City marathon have signed up for the Honolulu race. The entry record of more than 34,000 runners was set in 1995 when there was a limited-time $2 entry fee for local participants.
Online registration for the race closes at midnight on November 26. Walkup registration will take place between December 5-8.