RRW: Honolulu Marathon Cancelled Due To Pandemic

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved(23-Oct) — The Honolulu Marathon Association (HMA) announced late yesterday that the 2020 Honolulu Marathon and related events, scheduled for December 12 and 13, had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

“After consulting with all our stakeholders, the City and County of Honolulu, the State of Hawaii and our sponsors, the Honolulu Marathon Association has decided that the appropriate and safest course of action is not to conduct the 2020 Honolulu Marathon, Start to Park 10-K and Kalakaua Merrie Mile in December,” read a statement posted to the event’s website.  “We understand that it has been difficult for you to train and to plan trips to Hawaii under these circumstances and we thank you for your patience in waiting for the final announcement.”

Honolulu joins the Boston, Chicago, Marine Corps (Washington, D.C.), and New York marathons on the cancelled list for 2020 meaning that five of the six largest American marathons will not be held this year.  The sixth, the Los Angeles Marathon with 20,989 finishers, was held on March 8, just before the first wave of the pandemic swept across the United States causing all large road races to be cancelled.

“Do we feel good about it? Absolutely not,” HMA president Dr. Jim Barahal told the Star-Advertiser newspaper yesterday.  “You have to do what is right to protect the community. Just emotionally, I lump it into another part of a way of life that has been taken away from all of us.”

The Honolulu Marathon was founded in 1973 and has been held for 47 consecutive years without cancellation.  Last year’s edition had 18,606 finishers on Sunday, December 8, and the accompanying Start to Park 10-K, which shares the same start and finish areas, had a record 5567 finishers.  The day before, the Kalakaua Merrie Mile mile was held adjacent to Waikiki Beach and recorded a record 2214 finishers.  Kenya’s Titus Ekiru (2:08:00) and Margaret Muriuki (2:31:10) were the marathon winners, each making $25,000 in prize money.  Ekiru won an additional $25,000 in course record and time incentives; his mark (actually 2:07:59.02) was a course record.

The Honolulu cancellation comes just one week after the state of Hawaii dropped their two-week quarantine for visitors who take an approved COVID test within 72 hours of arrival and show a negative result.  The island state’s economy depends heavily on tourism, and the Honolulu Marathon is one of the most important events in the state for attracting visitors.  Hawaii Pacific University reported in 2016 that the event had a $130 million economic impact.  The marathon typically attracts 16,000 entrants from Japan, many of whom travel with their families and crowd the city’s restaurants and shops for a week.  The event’s primary sponsors, led by the airline JAL, are all Japanese.

Like the other big marathons which had to cancel, organizers are offering a virtual race option called the Beachfest.  All runners who entered the race will have those entries converted to Beachfest entries.  If they finish the 42.195 kilometers on their own, they can receive a finisher race shirt and medal in the mail, plus receive a digital race bib, finisher certificate, and a digital finisher’s magazine among other benefits.  Those who do not wish to participate virtually will have their entries rolled over to the 2021 edition of the race.