HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage nationally and around the globe, Honolulu Marathon organizers have decided to cancel their 2020 race.
The decision, while expected, is nonetheless another harsh blow to Hawaii’s struggling economy.
The 48th Honolulu Marathon had been scheduled for Dec. 13.
“We did hang on as long as we could," said Honolulu Marathon president and CEO Jim Barahal.
“The team has worked hard to find ways to conduct a safe and socially distanced event, but all stakeholders agree that the appropriate and safest course of action is not to conduct the 2020 Honolulu Marathon, Start to Park 10 and Kalakaua Merrie Mile in December,” he said.
“We were hoping that since we were the last event on the calendar as far as a large world marathon, that the situation regarding COVID would change enough that we could safely put on the event.”
The Honolulu Marathon is one of the biggest events in the islands annually, and is one of the world’s largest marathons, with more than 30,000 entrants, about half of them from Japan.
“On average, every Japanese runner brings one point one person with them. So if you know, we get ten thousand runners, that’s actually like 21 thousand folks who come just from Japan for the event,” ssaid Dr. Jerry Argusa of the University of Hawaii’s School of Travel Industry Management.
Organizers said they are looking at alternate dates in the “first half of 2021.”
Argusa said that it could help in reopening Hawaii tourism from Japan.
“It would be the gateway, the opening for having the Japanese come back, because the Honolulu Marathon, at times, the majority was Japanese runners,” he said.
The marathon is also one of the largest economic impact events in Hawaii, bringing in about $130 million in spending each year.
One of the businesses impacted is Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
“We actually have the pre-party here and the after party, so it’s something we really look forward to and are actually looking forward to in the future. So yeah, of course we’re disappointed about it," said Manny Cournede, co-general manager of Wolfgang’s.
Locally-owned clothing store Fighting Eel has also had an influx of business from the marathon.
“The traffic in general in Waikiki has been disrupted, so without having a huge thing like the marathon, it’s going to further disrupt other travelers coming here to Hawaii,” said store manager Melissa Hoyer.
Barahal said entrants will have the option to take part virtually, which would allow them to finish the 26.2 mile distance over multiple days. Otherwise, entries wil be automatically deferred to 2021′s events.