The Kona Marathon (http://www.KonaMarathon.com) held June 24 this year, also delivers significant support for local causes such as Special Olympics of West Hawaii, Susan G Komen for the Cure Hawaii, and PATH, Share the Road with Aloha, but does so by drawing runners to the island for one of the most anticipated marathon events of the year.
Founded in 1994, the Kona Marathon has evolved into one of Hawai`i’s premiere road race events, offering all four traditional distances: Marathon, 1/2 Marathon, Quarter Marathon and 5K. All four races start and nish at the Waikoloa Bowl at Queens’ MarketPlace. The 5K is routed along shaded Waikoloa Beach Drive, while the Marathon, Half Marathon and Quarter Marathon runners will continue onto Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway, running a portion of the famous Ironman World Championship bike route before returning to the Waikoloa Beach Resort and the welcoming throng of spectators at the nish line.
Celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2018, more than 1,700 participants are expected this year over the four races. “We usually run 30-35 percent local runners and 65-70 percent run- ners from out of state,” says event director Sharron Fa . “Every year we have at least 48 states represented and 15-20 di erent countries. This event brings in more than $10 million to the Hawaiian economy every year.”
Faff says the location is of top priority to the success of the event and having a host hotel such as the Hilton Waikoloa Village is of upmost importance: “It provides a beautiful place for runners to stay, but also has the facilities that are needed, such as a large convention center for the Health and Fitness Fair and other event activities. Both of these need to be per- fectly matched for the success of an event this large.”
The free and open to the public Health and Fitness Fair includes 40 different booths, including running gear, race supplies, health and tness booths, and more. “It’s one of the ways we try to encourage everyone to participate, including keiki and families,” Fa says.
In addition to attracting serious marathoners, the Kona Marathon has been a great boon for local organizations. “We never turn a charity down,” Fa says. “Special Olympics has been doing an Aid Station for us for 25 years. Keauhou Canoe Club handles two of our Aid Stations and has for 25 years. Others donate their time as a community outreach. As with the Charity Walk, participants solicit donations which are then given to the charity directly.”
“These events and others we host throughout the year are wins for the community, wins for the events, and wins for the organizations that benefit,” says Waikoloa Beach Resort’s Scott Head. “Now that’s giving back with aloha.”