HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Strong winds were an issue right from the start.
"I've been here for about 12 years now," said Starting Line Director Nicole Lamb, "and I can't remember the last time we've had winds like this. Rain, yes, but not winds."
Rhoda Favela and her husband, Joaquin are back for a second Great Aloha Run (GAR).
"A bit nervous," she said, "but I think it will be a challenge today with the wind and all."
Wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour were expected during the run. The good news is, the strong winds, were mostly at their backs when the cannon went off at 7 a.m.
The nearly 22,000 participants tried to work it to their advantage as they ran 8.15 miles from Nimitz Highway, down Kamehameha Highway to Aloha Stadium.
"We do have a wind. It's 21 miles an hour coming North - Northeast," said veteran runner, 66 year old Ron Pate, of Team USA, "which means it's going to be like trade winds coming at our back, which is actually pretty great."
"I was more afraid it was going to be wet, said Hawaii News Now reporter Ben Gutierrez."But the wind, I can deal with, especially if it's coming from the back."
Cooler temperatures were an added blessing.
"I'd rather have it cool and windy then hot and muggy, you know," said 5x GAR runner Tony Padua. "It's perfect."
"It's a little cooler so everyone's going to be out there having a good time and it'll help us with keeping folks hydrated," said Janet Liang, the president of Kaiser Permanente which is the title sponsor of the event. They had dozens of doctors and medical personnel walking the race with full medical response equipment to ensure participants safety.
There were a variety of people came out to help the many Carol Kai Charities which has raised $9.6 million over the years from annual President's Day event.
Some Honolulu firefighters ran the race decked out in full gear, including air tanks.
"We're running for the Kapiolani Children's Cancer Center," said Honolulu Firefighter, Kama Ortiz. "We've made our goal $3,000. We're representing all the Honolulu Firefighters who work so hard for us."
There were runners dressed as clowns. Even a couple of "Ghostbusters" wearing home-made costumes in honor of the blockbuster 80's hit.
"People run around in military packs," said Daniel Ben of wearing his elaborate outfit. "People run backwards. We run as Ghostbusters, and we have our own theme song."
In the end, it is all about getting healthy.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa flew over to get involved with some of his staff.
"We're trying to lead by example," said Arakawa. "I'm going to be walking; the rest of the group will be running. I told them I am over 60 years old, so I need an exemption. But I'll be at the finish line with the rest of them."
Mother of two, Kai Kraut of Kaimuki, got her children involved.
"I'm hoping that it'll encourage them to run and be fit in the future," Kraut said.
Military personnel traditionally make a large showing at the Great Aloha Run, running in formation in the "Sounds of Freedom" units. However, this year, GAR officials say ongoing deployments kept some 3,000 military personnel from participating in that larger unit run. Nevertheless, the military was well represented. Many servicemembers ran, walked or ran on behalf of the fallen.
Tyler Suerth was proud to honor his Dad this morning. He is a beneficiary of the national non-profit group, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which helps military families cope when they've lost loved ones on active duty. Organizers say it is the group's first GAR participation.
"This is my dad," said Suerth wearing his Dad's picture on the back of his shirt. "He worked in the Army."
Hawaii Congresswoman and Veteran, Tulsi Gabbard, walked with TAPS members this morning. She said she is focused on making sure the federal budget ensures servicemembers and their families will be taken care of and given the respect, they deserve.
"They've been helping and supporting each other and families and service members for a very long time and continues to grow strong," said Gabbard.
Its mission that resonates strongly with the popular event that seeks to do the same for our community.
For official race results click here.