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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Great Aloha Run maintains its stride

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Carole Kai Onouye

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This is the 26th year for Honolulu's Great Aloha Run and co-founder Carole Kai Onouye said there are more entrants than usual with more than 22,000 people registered already.

Onouye, who is a volunteer, chief booster and public face of the annual Presidents Day race, said yesterday there were already 19,300 civilian runners signed up and close to 3,000 military runners.

She said one of the highlights is the "sounds of Freedom" group of military folks that run the entire race in formation. "They sing and they chant."

Onouye said she's pleased to see the numbers easily topping last year's total of 20,608. She said last year was a good year for the race, which in most recent years has attracted just about 20,000 runners and walkers.

The 8.15-mile course starts at Aloha Tower in Downtown, winds its way along Honolulu Harbor, down Nimitz Highway, Kamehameha Highway and into Aloha Stadium.

"We're very happy," she said. "This is a real bad economic down year."

Most entrants pay $35 to $40 to participate. The nonprofit pays for the race expenses and then donates some of the proceeds to various local charities. This year's title sponsor for the race is Kaiser Permanente.

For the past three years, Onouye said the charity Carole Kai Charities has partnered with the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Foundation, which has increased the amount donated. "We have averaged close to $400,000 for the last three years," she said.

In 2008, Carole Kai Charities alone gave $145,000 to 62 charities.

But Onouye said the combined effort of the two agencies meant a total of more than $400,000 this year. Some of the charities that have received money include United Cerebral Palsy Association, Helping Hands Hawaii and Variety School of Hawaii.

She said the pattern of giving favors the poor, needy, elderly and promoting health and fitness.

While the expenses of putting on such a race can come close to the amount the charities give away, Onouye said she and the other organizers feel good in knowing that money spent to hire local companies helps stimulate the economy.

"Our expenses exceed $300,000," she said. "We have only one full-time worker here in the office and she's overworked and underpaid," Onouye said.