Fewer racers will run the Honolulu Marathon this year - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fewer racers will run the Honolulu Marathon this year

Jim Barahal Jim Barahal

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Honolulu Marathon attracts some of the finest athletes around the world. But even the largest sporting event in the state has trouble keeping pace with our stumbling economy.

Almost 28,000 runners competed last year's race, pumping some much needed revenue into the state.

We're talking hotels, restaurants, souvenirs---it all adds up.

But with numbers down by more than 4,000 people, event organizers are hopeful new changes will give the race a second wind. Race organizers call this the biggest drop since 2003. But it's not inexperience or lack of training that's keeping runners away, their Achilles heel are these hard financial times.

Endurance. Strength. Tenacity. Qualities of last year's Honolulu Marathon runners.

But this year, not as many will be pounding the pavement. With just weeks to go until the race, entries are down.

"We work hard to make this marathon big and to bring in a lot of people and I think we've all seen with the world's economy that things are a little more fragile than we may have thought," said Honolulu Marathon president Jim Barahal.

Among the decline, 14% fewer Japanese entrants. It's estimated they spend about $280 a day at places like shoe stores. One of the many businesses banking on taking a piece of their spending budget.

"People stay longer, no body accidentally comes to Hawaii and you can't drive in like in the New York Marathon where people can drive in, stay for the day and then leave," said travel industry expert Jerry Agrusa.

With raised entry fees, marathon officials are hoping to make up for fewer runners, and aren't afraid to break a sweat to make the race on December 14th, a success.

"We don't have any lines of credit, we aren't borrowing, which is a good thing, the old fashion way works in our favor," said Barahal.

A philosophy, that organizers hope, drives even more runners towards the finish line. Officials blame factors like high cost of travel and fewer available airline seats for the decline in Japanese runners.

But, a new law that now allows Korean citizens to come to Hawaii without a required visa, may be an added boost this year.

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