THE GREAT ALOHA RUN
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Donald Au, left, picked up his number and chip packet yesterday at the Hawaiian Telcom Great Aloha Run Health, Fitness & Sports Expo at the Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall from expo crewman Steve Davidson. Davidson will also run.
Military pumps up Great Aloha Run
The running event is facing a shortage of T-shirts, but the problem will be fixed
Boosted in part by the return of troops from the war on terror, about 23,000 runners are expected to participate in tomorrow's Great Aloha Run.
It's about 4,000 more people than last year who will be running or walking from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium. It's more money for local charities, but it also means a shortage of T-shirts.
Only 21,000 "Finisher" T-shirts were printed.
"Some people will have to take a raincheck and we'll get them their T-shirts in the mail," said Carole Kai Onouye, event co-founder and President of Carole Kai Charities, Inc.
Onouye said as of yesterday there were about 18,000 civilians registered for the run and she expected at least another 1,000 to enter. Add that to the 4,800 military runners already entered and she said this is the most runners the event has seen since the mid-1990s, when the military began troops sending troops overseas to the Middle East and Afghanistan.
"At one point we used to have 30,000 people, but that was with about 10,000 of them military," she said. "This is the most (participants) we've had since they started Operation Desert Storm."
About 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan participated in a satellite Great Aloha Run in near zero degree weather last year, raising money for Afghan charities.
The numbers of Japanese entries is also on the rise, Onouye said.
Some runners, like 76-year-old California resident Harold Lindsey, never stopped coming back to run. For the past 20 years Lindsey has celebrated his birthday on Feb. 17 by coming to Honolulu and running the Great Aloha Run before becoming a "beach bum" for the rest of his stay.
"I like the people I end up running with and if I don't I either speed up or slow down to run with someone else," he said.
Others, like 49-year-old Hauula resident Albette Wilkins, have tried to recruit more and more family members each year. Wilkins said after running the first two Great Aloha Runs alone she recruited one of her grandchildren to do it with her.
This year she was able to talk two grandchildren, her eldest son and his wife into doing it, too.
"One day I'll get my husband out here," she said smiling.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
At the Hawaiian Telcom Great Aloha Run Health, Fitness and Sports Expo yesterday at the Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, participants looked for their names and numbers listed on boards. Great Aloha runners begin their 8.15-mile journey at Aloha Tower tomorrow.
Event registration continues today at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall, where the Hawaiian Telcom Great Aloha Run Health, Fitness & Sports Expo is being held over the weekend. Registration costs $40 and Onouye said entries can be taken up until 5 p.m.
Among the 150 booths at the Expo were the Army's 25th Infantry Division's Stryker Medical Evaluation vehicle, which drew a small group of protesters outside along Ward Avenue. About a half-dozen people with signs said they just wanted to draw attention to the fact that they are against Hawaii being designated as the military location for the Stryker Brigade Combat Team because among other things, it will take up more land for live-fire training exercises.
"This is a health and fitness expo," said protester Pete Doktor. "Basically the military is hijacking another community event for a public relations opportunity."
The Great Aloha Run began 22 years ago as a fundraiser for local charities and to date, has raised more than $6.5 million according to event officials. Great Aloha runners begin their 8.15-mile journey at Aloha Tower tomorrow and should report to their respective staging areas by 6:10 a.m.
Depending on which running group participants register for, staggered starting times will be held between 6:50 a.m. and 7:10 a.m. The run takes participants westbound on Nimitz Highway which will be closed to all traffic for the duration of the run.
Buses returning participants back to the downtown area run from 8:30 to 11:45 a.m.