Marathon's benefits make it worth the hassle
The race boosts the state's economy and raises funds for deserving nonprofit groups.
HAWAII owes a nod of thanks to East Honolulu residents and businesses for accommodating the thousands of runners who dash or plod past their homes and storefronts today in the 33rd annual Honolulu Marathon
Their putting up with the inconvenience of closed roads and blocked driveways will result in an estimated $100 million flow into the state's economy and help several nonprofit groups raise funds for those with debilitating or life-threatening diseases.
There are always the few who complain about the pilikia, especially since the marathon route has come to be used for other races, but most tolerate the difficulties while many enjoy having a front-row seat for the popular event.
The marathon's open-field character that allows anyone with the entry fee and the pluck to trek from Ala Moana Beach to Hawaii Kai and back to Kapiolani Park draws thousands to the islands in December. There are no qualifying times and no limit to the number of entries, making Honolulu's event attractive not only to elite runners but to intrepid weekend joggers as well.
This year, about 28,000 participants -- the majority nonresidents -- will bring their shorts, shoes and wallets to the state.
For some 2,021 participants, the race means more than scoring a personal best. Through running, they help groups such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Arthritis Foundation raise funds to combat illnesses. Other organizations that collect donations include those that assist people with AIDS, cancer, diabetes and blindness.
Marathon spokesman Pat Bigold says more charitable groups are represented this year than ever before. Non-running events linked to the marathon also lend helping hands, such as a concert-luau that will donate part of the gate to Hurricane Katrina victims.
Jeannie Wokasch-Young will be the sole runner for the Pacific Autism Center, but even with just the power of one, more than $2,000 had been raised since Tuesday. On the other end of the scale are the 672 participants from the leukemia society, which has raised $2.4 million.
The marathon, which receives no state funding, has proven particularly appealing to people from Japan, who make up 60 percent of the field. However, the number of participants from South Korea has been steadily growing, keeping pace with the increasing visitor count from that country.
The marathon is one of the best-run events in Hawaii, a tribute to the shrewd development of the brand over the years that has created a highly competitive contest among internationally known sponsors. It is a model for others to emulate.