Travelling for destination marathons has become extremely popular.  Even if doing a marathon isn’t the first thing someone considers when looking at being in Honolulu in mid-December, especially if they live in the frigid Colorado Rockies. But this was the exact reason I was making the journey to Hawaii, what some would call paradise.

Being relatively new to marathon running, I had smartly planned my trip so that the big event was close to my departure date. Walking and hiking the day after running 26.2 miles wasn’t going to be what one might call “fun.”  On my first full day there, I decided to walk to iconic Diamond Head. I love trail running, and, well, there is a rather nice path going up it so . . . yes, I ran up Diamond Head.  My favorite part was running past a trio of off-duty military who heartedly yelled out: “Someone has way too much energy!”  The view and the achievement for a formerly fat couch potato were well worth it.

A couple of nights before the race is a luau and concert. If you plan on attending, which I recommend, pay the extra money for the VIP ticket. Not only will you avoid the mile-long line of people waiting to get in, but you get to be by the stage, wine is included, and the service is great. The table setup also allows you to make new friends, and most importantly new drinking friends with whom to celebrate after you cross the finish line!

Two weeks before coming to the popular island of Oahu, I ran a half marathon while it was -5C degrees and snowing, so being in 32C, not including the heat index, was enjoyable, but I was wondering how the run was going to go. The race begins at 5 AM, although really that’s for the pros.  With a starting lineup of 25,000 people, it takes a bit for everyone to get across the starting line. At first I cursed the insane hour, but as the sun made its glorious appearance and the trade winds stayed away, I was very happy we had some time before the brutal heat began draining me. I saw people sitting on ice blocks at the aid stations to cool down and within another hour ambulance sightings weren’t uncommon.

Honolulu is a beautiful place for a destination marathon, and the lack of time limit makes it perfect for beginners and walkers.  In fact several hours after I finished a man in his 90s crossed the finish line. He had been “racing” for almost 10 hours.

Here are a few things that will make your experience a little nicer as well:

  • Don’t just rely on BodyGlide or a similar product to prevent chafing. Vaseline might be a good idea since it’s more water resistant. And I’d suggest Band-Aids over the nipples. Speaking from personal experience, the combination of pouring water over your head and sweat will make things not so fun.
  • Bring your own gels or energy chews. These aren’t provided by the race.
  • Bring money for food afterward. After spending hours in the heat running, an apple and 2 hard cookies isn’t enough and none of the food vendors accept credit cards. There are, however, restaurants very close to the park.