Thousands of runners lace up for 2015 Honolulu Marathon

2015 Honolulu Marathon seeing increase in mainland runners, security
Image Source: Honolulu Marathon
Image Source: Honolulu Marathon
Image Courtesy: Bart Asato/Facebook
Image Courtesy: Bart Asato/Facebook

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly 31,000 runners laced up for Sunday's Honolulu Marathon, which officials said would feature additional security along the 26.2-mile route.

The 43rd annual race kicked off at Ala Moana Beach Park at 5 a.m.

For the marathon, runners make their way out to Hawaii Kai and then head back to Waikiki via Diamond Head Road, finishing the race at Kapiolani Beach Park.

Before runners even got to the start line, police were sweeping the race course and prepping security.

"Existing traffic cameras are at our control," says Honolulu police Capt. Gordon Gomes, adding the cameras will be able to record. Extra cameras were mounted along the course after the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013.

About 400 Honolulu police officers, most off-duty to work marathon security, are also be on the streets. Extra fencing and security are also present at the finish line at Kapiolani Park.

The Honolulu Marathon is the fourth-largest marathon in the country, trailing only New York, Chicago and Boston. This year, 30,783 runners and walkers have signed up, an increase of more than 300 runners. About 3,000 of those runners are coming from the mainland, a 30 percent increase compared to last year.

"It's dwarfed, of course, by the nearly 13,000 from Japan and really about 15,000 from Hawaii," said Honolulu Marathon CEO Dr. Jim Barahal. "but still, it's a substantial number and helps with the economic impact of the event."

A mother and son team of runners made the Honolulu Marathon Expo at the Hawaii Convention Center their first stop after landing from Florida.

"It was a 12-hour flight time, from Orlando-Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City to Honolulu," said runner Riccinni Banham.

Her son, 19-year-old Lesz Banham, is running is first-ever marathon here. "I really wanted to do it with my mom, and she really pushed me to do it, and I remember coming to Hawaii as a kid, so it's kind of nice coming back," he said.

Deirdre Keane of New York has run 13 marathons, but will be running her first Honolulu Marathon Sunday. "I'm hoping for three and-a-half hours, ideally. That's the time I usually hit," she said. "I did New York City last month and I got around that, so hopefully a little improvement."

"We've worked really hard, particularly with digital media, social media, advertising on the mainland U.S.A., particularly on the West Coast, and a lot of the increase in numbers are coming from there," said Barahal.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell estimated marathon runners will spend about $130 million in Hawaii.

"We'll see Japan visitors start to arrive by Wednesday and by Friday they'll all be here."

One reason the Honolulu event continues to grow: It's one of the few marathons without a time limit. Walkers can take as long as they need to finish.

Other marathons will shut down after a certain number of hours and require qualifying times.

Barahal says the lack of a time limit allows non-runners who have always wanted to finish a marathon to do so, without worrying about being kicked off the course.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.