The Kauai Marathon is considered to be one of the best marathons in North America. // © 2011 Kauai Marathon
For elite runners and everyday joggers alike, timing a vacation with a marathon in Hawaii can turn a trip to the tropics into a lifelong memory.
With its year-round warm climate and health-conscious vibe, the 50th state is a natural for active travelers. Throughout the year, running clubs host footraces appealing to both locals and visitors.
Following are three superb courses for 26.2-mile aficionados. Mark your calendar and start training.
Set for Sept. 2, the fourth annual Kauai Marathon was named one of the top 100 road races in North America by BestRoadRaces.com.
As dawn breaks, runners hit the road from the southern resort of Poipu. The course winds through a century-old tunnel of trees and climbs to reveal ocean views. The remaining miles are a gradual descent back to Poipu.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa serves as the headquarters, complete with a health expo. Marathoners get special room rates and a discount at Grand Hyatt’s Anara Spa.
When the Maui Marathon begins, the moon is hanging over sparkling sugarcane fields. By its end, participants have passed 26.2 miles of spectacular scenery, including 17 miles right next to the ocean.
This 42-year-old Maui fave, coming up on Sept. 16, is a point-to-point route that starts in Kahului, passes through Lahaina and offers views of Maui’s neighboring islands of Kahoolawe, Lanai and Molokai.
The course ends at Kaanapali Beach Resort, where the Westin Maui Resort and Spa stands ready as the host hotel. Westin provides a sports and fitness expo, a pre-race carb-loading party and reduced room rates for the runners.
Not only is the Honolulu Marathon — set for Dec. 9 —well organized, but its spirit motivates runners of all abilities. Fireworks explode overhead at the start, and there’s a stage with hula dancers at the 20-mile mark.
In the four days leading up to the race, over 20,000 participants — including elite international runners —can browse the Honolulu Marathon Expo.
A luau dinner with Hawaiian music takes place on the Friday night before the race. Waikiki hotels list good deals and temperatures range from 67-82 degrees — the perfect weather for a nice, long run in the tropics.