Hapalua- A Hawaiian Race Experience

Touchdown on Friday at 11:35am in the Honolulu airport gave us the warm chills as we thought about the turquoise ocean and the mountains of Oahu from the airplane window we saw as we landed on the island.  The airport was older appearing, still with the old computers from the 80s, however all unhooked.  but had a tropical flair.  No girls in Hawaiian dresses handing out leis to the incoming travelers as we hoped.


After a quick Uber from the airport to the hotel, we checked in, but our room wasn’t ready yet.  We decided to take a walk after a 5.5 hour flight that morning to the Hawaii Convention Center.  This was about half a mile away and along the beautiful inter coastal waterway. 


Check in was on the 3 floor, so we went up the escalators.  Before walking into the ballroom, there was a picture backdrop for photos to take in excitement of the Hapalua.  We walked in and found our bibs on the left.  Walked to the back of the ballroom for our shirts and our new cool purple bags and information on the photography.  There were vendors in the expo spaces.  Nothing too exciting.  There was an entire area dedicated to the Hapalua attire and purchases.  We, however, did not do more than walk through.  I picked up a Hawaii running sticker and headed to the photo ops set up inside and outside the ballroom with my husband and kids.  Did the expected photos with our bibs in hand…yay! 




And then left for lunch at Rock Island Cafe. 


We were tired- we now had a time difference of 6 hours from home.  Jet lag is no joke.  Bedtime by 8pm that night.

Saturday was filled with activity, but we made sure to eat Italian at Buca de Beppa for dinner to get carbs into our systems.  We tried to not overdo it that day- a walk along Aloha stadium to shop for souvenirs and a ride on a catamaran boat was the activity of the day.  Early bedtime as well since we still were experiencing the effects of jet lag.  We were in bed by 8ish that night.

Sunday morning we were up by 4 with the knowledge that we needed to leave the hotel by 5am.  We left the boys asleep in the hotel room.  We felt safe and they were of a good age of responsibility for that.  And who were we kidding, the kids could have cared less about anything else at that point except time alone to play video games and watch Netflix as we had had very little time for that since we landed.

Morning temperatures were around upper 60s in the darkness.  Comfortable to be wearing a tank top and capris running pants with my Hawaii socks.

The start line was just 1.2 miles down the road.  The buses were not running though due to the roads shutdown for the race.  We passed and walked with many others doing the same as us.  I noticed a water station being set up right beside our hotel.  That would be the first one of many.  I carried a bag with comfy shoes and my race running supplies.  We realized as we were walking that A) oops, start and finish are at different locations and B) we weren’t positive that there was a bag check and C) few others were carrying bags of any sort.  After looping through the park and a few turns, we were on the road to the race.

Upon arrival at the race start, the Duke statue, many runners were milling around, taking photos, using the porta potties.  There was no gear check.  We walked up and down the area looking.  So I texted Ian and asked him to meet us on the corner of our hotel to take the bag.  I’d just run with it up until then.  It wasn’t that heavy at that point since most of the contents were around my waist.

We watched the chase contenders take off at 5:30am and on. They set off the chasers in increments of 3 people every few minutes to catch the first group that went out.

The start line organization was to line up by your bib color by the flags.  However there was a lot of confusion with this and not enough space behind each flag.  You were self-policing your start.  Conrad headed to the front, but I found a place in the middle of the back.  I looked around and there were bibs of so many colors that it seemed like it wouldn’t really matter.  We never saw pacers in the race.


6am we took off.  The streets were crowded.  Almost 8000 people completed the race (We think they said 10k signed up).  The start was through streets of Waikiki.  As we hit mile 1, we turned onto Ala Moana Blvd and I passed the water station and looked for Ian on the left.  He took my bag and ran back up to the hotel room on the 15th floor.

The race continued down Ala Moana, turned right around mile 3, and right again around mile 4.  We headed back towards Diamond Head now through town.  We did have a hill over a bridge where I was able to get a picture off into the distance showing the mass #s of runners.  The streets were not all shut down and the opposite direction Still had car and bus traffic.



Backing up, nutrition this race started with oatmeal around 4:15am (hot water from microwaved hot water in our room).  1/2 cup of hotel room coffee (which didn’t taste too great).  Around 5:30 I took my 1/2 dose of IsaGenix Nitro.  Around 5:50am I took an IsaGenix eshot.  At mile 5 I had half an eshot.  At mile 6 I started working on a Gu.  To guard against cramping this week, since I knew I was sweating more than the last race already…I started taking Hylands Cramp pills (each pack had 4 pills) around 2 pills at mile 8, again 2 pills at mile 9.  At mile 10 I took the 2nd half of that eshot.  At mile 11 and 12 I took another couple Hylands cramp pills each.  This worked for this race to keep my cramps down and my energy up.

Somewhere around mile 5ish
Somewhere around passing the finish line and heading up the hill

Back to the race…around mile 9 we passed the finish line, but this wasn’t the end.  We started up the hill at this point.  What??  A hill in Honolulu… It was a slow incline at first.  I almost did not realize I was on a hill.  But by the time I was at 9.5m, it was getting steep.  The sun was pressing right into our faces.  We continued this grade until around mile 10.25. We had a small downhill, then the uphill started back up again.  I lost a lot of time on my watch getting up this hill.  On the left, we had a lookout and the most beautiful view of the ocean.  This is the road that goes up and around DiamondHead state park. 


Luckily, for every uphill, is a downhill, an the next mile was downhill…with the sun at our backs.  We continue downhill until the last 3/4 mile where we flattened out for the finish.


The last bit was flat through the parking lots of the park and into the finish!  I saw Conrad cheering me on just before I crossed the line.  But no cramping this race!  This was a hard race though.  All I could think about was relaxing post race and lying down on the grass at the finish.



After crossing the finish, we saw a photographer. 


There was a little bit of a walk down the chute before we reached the volunteers handing us our medals.  Then yet another photographer. 


As soon as I was out of the chute there was a small shower set up where water was showering anyone who walked under it.  There were not a lot of people there when I came up to it so I quickly found a spot and washed my face of the sweat, and washed my hand towel and put it on my neck to use as a cooling towel.

I turn around and realize there’s a line for…for what I’m not sure.  Conrad checked it out and came back to tell me that it was a food line.  However it was an inefficient line so we moved forward.  Waters were handed out in cups of water.  Then there were multiple lines for the malasadas (think Chinese donuts), bananas, and moon pies.  The later lines weren’t being utilized because everyone was standing in line for the first set.  There was shaved ice next.  Yummy.  Another special thing for Hawaii.  Then we got to the tent where Lanai Cold Pressed pineapple juice was being handed out.  Another Hawaii thing.


The finish line video was being played on a huge screen in the middle of the grass.  The timeline was likely 15-20 min post real time, so I had time to get through the line, sit down and still watch me come through the finish.

The photo op backgrounds were up here at the finish.  Not to mention the really neat trees.  Since I didn’t have a bag, I asked for an empty moon pie box to take all of our goodies with us.  We walked across the street to the beach and took a few photos in the water.  USA beach volleyball was playing on the beach that day. Several colleges seemed to be playing each other.  We made the walk back to our hotel with a few small detours for views of other things along the way.  We made it back to our hotel around 10am.

This was a fun race to be part of and a great experience and pushed for a great vacation following with the family.  We did not spend a lot of the race running by the shoreline, however through Waikiki.  There were a lot of runners.

Mine and Conrad boths’ race times were the slowest we’ve had in over a year, we attributed to the warmer weather and the nasty hill between mile 9 and 11.     

The #hapalua is a 13.1mile race only.  No 5k, 10k, or marathons co-occurring.  There is a chase that starts before the main race.  That was neat to see happen.  25 runners took part in that- there was a women’s chase and a men’s chase.  It is a race through Waikiki of Honolulu on Oahu.  Racers seemed to be from all over- international, local islanders, and mainlanders.

Here’s a highlights video of the race!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s