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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, November 21, 2003

Route knowledge a must

 •  Maui Adventure Race set for next month
 •  Catch of the day

By Jonathan Lyau
Special to The Advertiser

With the Honolulu Marathon less than a month away, it wouldn't hurt to do some studying.

Take off the running shoes, put your feet up and take a few minutes to look at the 26.2-mile route.

Knowing what to expect, where you are going and how to run the course can be advantageous.

"Familiarity translates to a home-field advantage," said Neil Voje, 43, a corporate recruiter and retired Navy officer.

The Honolulu Marathon starts on Ala Moana Boulevard along Ala Moana Park and in the vicinity of Borders bookstore at Ward Centre.

Kit Smith, 69, a retired business writer for The Advertiser, enjoys the layout of the course.

"It is well conceived, giving runners a variety of settings," Smith said.

The start: When the booms at 5 a.m. start the race, fireworks will fill the sky. Enjoy the display, but don't forget to keep your eyes in front of you to avoid tripping over such things as discarded clothes, water bottles or other participants.

About this series

Veteran Hawai'i runner Jonathan Lyau will provide tips on the Honolulu Marathon — from training to recovery.

TODAY — The course. Knowing the route gives runners an advantage.

Nov. 28 — Tapering. Cutting down your mileage weeks before the run is perhaps the most important aspect in the last month of marathon training and often is taken lightly by many.

Dec. 5 — Pre-race and race-day strategy. Knowing when to re-hydrate might be one of the keys to finishing the run in your target time.

Dec. 12 — Recovery. Knowing your body and how much rest you need are keys to the road to recovery.

WHAT: Honolulu Marathon
WHEN: 5 a.m., Dec. 14
WHERE: Ala Moana and Queen Street extension
CONTACT: 734-7200 or www.honolulumarathon.org
Mile 1: The 1-mile mark is at Restaurant Row. Soon after this you will pass Aloha Tower and turn right onto Nu'uanu Avenue and head through downtown Honolulu.

Nu'uanu is narrow, so be careful of the participants "bunching up." If you decide to step onto the sidewalk, look out for the parking meters.

Miles 2-3: You will pass historic buildings such as 'Iolani Palace, Kawaiaha'o Church and the Mission House Museum. You will also see all the beautiful Christmas lights along the way, but don't get too distracted or you'll miss the first water station near 'Iolani Palace.

Mile 4: The course will fork onto Kapi'olani Boulevard and take you back to Ala Moana via Pi'ikoi Street.

Expect to hear lots of cheering as you pass Ala Moana Shopping Center and enter Waikiki.

Mile 5: Soon after taking a right onto Kalakaua Avenue, you will pass the 5-mile point at Niketown and continue through the heart of Waikiki to Kapi'olani Park.

Mile 6: At this point, you will get out of the city lights and pass the Honolulu Zoo where another big crowd of spectators appears.

As you follow the perimeter of Kapi'olani Park clockwise, watch your step ahead as it is much darker.

Mile 7-9: These are the most challenging of the route as you make your way up and around Diamond Head.

Smith, a veteran of 18 Honolulu Marathons, said, "It may become a little congested at the beginning of Diamond Head Road as a rope lines the middle of the road, preparing for the return of wheelchair athletes."

Mile 9-10: At the 15-kilometer mark (9.3 miles) a short and refreshing downhill awaits, as a right is made on 18th Avenue. At Kilauea Avenue, turn right again and the road levels off.

Kilauea will take you past Kahala Mall, and turn right onto Kalaniana'ole Highway via the offramp. The 11-mile mark is at this point.

Mile 11-15: The next four miles will be run on this long and usually windy stretch. It is along this road where you will be able to see other marathoners approaching in the opposite direction as they head back to the finish.

Mile 16-21: At 16 miles, a left will be made on Hawai'i Kai Drive for a short 2-mile loop.

This is Voje's least liked part of the course.

"It's so far away before you turn around and begin heading back. Psychologically that can be very difficult."

Exiting the loop from Keahole Street will put you back on Kalaniana'ole where you will begin your trek back against the flow of oncoming marathoners.

The headwinds that you may have experienced going out, now becomes a tailwind. This gives you a welcome push.

Mile 22-24: As you leave the highway, a left is made onto Keala'olu Avenue in Kahala, and spectators' cheers will invigorate you at 22 miles. Make sure you look good along this road, as race photographers will be taking pictures.

At the end of Keala'olu, you will turn right onto Kahala Avenue where luxury homes line the road. Kahala then turns into Diamond Head Road.

Just before this is "Heartbreak Hill," the steepest hill on the route.

At the top of the hill you will see "Triangle Park" and an aid station. Only a little more than 2 miles remain.

HOME STRETCH: Take in the breathtaking scenery as you run along Diamond Head as it will be daylight by this time. Follow Diamond Head down to the park and onto Kalakaua. Another photo opportunity approaches near the big water fountain 600 meters from the finish.

The last few hundred yards will be lined with a crowd, and its cheers should boost your spirits and carry you across the finish line with a feeling of elation.

Jonathan Lyau, a veteran runner, will be running in his 21st Honolulu Marathon.