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Sky should be clear, traffic won't for marathon

By Michael Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 1:59 a.m. HST, Dec 11, 2010

The National Weather Service is predicting cool, relatively clear conditions tomorrow, which should come as good news to the estimated 22,000 souls — or 44,000 soles — expected to take part in the 38th running of the Honolulu Marathon.

While the severe storm system that passed over the island chain this week caused headaches for the volunteer crews setting up and securing the 26.2-mile marathon course, its timely departure should allow projected favorites like Kenya's Jimmy Muindi, Mbarak Hussein and Nicholas Chelimo to challenge the course record and tens of thousands of also-rans to pursue a new personal best.

Marathon entries totaled just less than 22,000 as of yesterday, but marathon officials noted that there have been many more late walk-in registrations this year than at the same time last year.

Honolulu Marathon Association President Jim Barahal said the traditional last-minute rush of entries could push the total upward of 23,000. And while that figure is not dramatically less than the last two marathon fields (23,469 last year and 23,230 in 2008), it would represent the fewest number of entries since 1991.

Still, Barahal said the number of marathon entries continues to be "astounding" given that the majority of participants come from Japan and other foreign countries.

"If we consider a 'destination marathon' one in which more than half the field travels a thousand miles or more to get there, we've got to be the second largest in the world," Barahal said. "With the worldwide recession, to have such a high percentage of participants flying to Hawaii to participate is incredible. We can get bigger but (23,000) is a good number."

Last year, 61 percent of the race field came from Japan.

The marathon, which does not receive financial assistance from the state, generates more than $100 million each year, according to economic impact studies commissioned by the marathon association each year.

Of course, the most immediate effect the marathon will have on the community tomorrow will be obvious on East Honolulu roadways.

The route runs from Ward Centre through downtown along King Street, Kapiolani Boulevard, Piikoi Street and Ala Moana Boulevard to Waikiki and Kapiolani Park, continuing through Diamond Head and Kahala, out to Hawaii Kai via Kalanianaole Highway and back to Kapiolani Park.

Beginning at 12:30 a.m., special traffic controls, including lane closures, will be in effect in the downtown, Kakaako, Ala Moana, Waikiki, Diamond Head, Kahala, Aina Haina, Niu Valley and East Honolulu areas.

According to the marathon association, the following roadways will be closed or restricted tomorrow:

» Ala Moana Boulevard from Atkinson Drive to Ward Avenue will be detoured from 12:30 to 8 a.m.

» H-1 freeway in both directions from the Waialae Avenue offramp to 22nd to Ainakoa avenues. H-1 traffic will be detoured from 3:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

» Kalakaua Avenue will be detoured left onto Paoakalani Avenue starting at 8:30 a.m.

» Kalakaua Avenue mauka side between Monsarrat Avenue and Poni Moi Road from 4:30 a.m. until the marathon is over. The makai lanes will be contra-flowed for two-way traffic at about 9 a.m. Resident traffic only; patrons of the Outrigger Canoe Club and Elks Club must enter via Kapahulu Avenue.

» Kapahulu Avenue makai-bound will be closed at Kuhio Avenue starting at 1:30 a.m. Local traffic will be allowed after 9 a.m.

» Monsarrat Avenue from Kalakaua to Paki avenues from 4:30 a.m. until event over (limited to tour buses). No-parking/tow-away zone will be in effect on both sides of Monsarrat Avenue from Kalakaua to Paki avenues.

» Paki Avenue from Monsarrat to Kalakaua avenues from 4:30 a.m. for the duration of the race. Local traffic only; access to Diamond Head Tennis Courts from 9 a.m.

» Diamond Head Road and Kahala and Kealaolu avenues will be controlled by police when the volume of runners would interfere with the safe movement of vehicles and runners. "Local Traffic Only," "Race in Progress" and "Proceed When Directed" signs will be posted.

» 18th Avenue from Diamond Head Road to Kilauea Avenue until runners clear the area. Traffic will be detoured at Diamond Head Road and Makapuu Avenue. Access to Diamond Head Crater only will be restricted to Civil Defense, FAA and National Guard personnel only.

» Kilauea Avenue from 18th to Waialae avenues, all eastbound lanes will be closed at 4 a.m. until runners clear the area. Westbound lanes will be contra-flowed to permit two-way traffic. Expect a slowdown. Vehicular traffic exiting the lower Kahala area must cross Kilauea Avenue at Hunakai Street. Expect delays until 11 a.m.

» Kalanianaole Highway from Ainakoa Street to Hawaii Kai Drive makai side will have restricted access from 2:30 a.m. The mauka side of the highway will be contra-flowed for two-way traffic. Westbound Kalanianaole Highway traffic will be detoured onto Ainakoa to Malia streets to Kilauea Avenue. Local traffic should expect delays.

» Hawaii Kai Drive makai lanes from Kalanianaole Highway to Keahole Street from about 2:30 a.m. until the area is clear. The mauka-side lanes will be contra-flowed for two-way traffic. Expect slowdowns.

» Kalanianaole Highway will be closed to through traffic from Hawaii Kai Drive to Keahole Street from about 3:30 a.m. until the area is clear. Traffic will be detoured onto Hawaii Kai Drive via Kawaihae Street to Lunalilo Home Road. Maunalua Bay boat ramp traffic must enter from the Koko Head end.

» Keahole Street makai-bound lanes from about 2:30 a.m. until the area is clear. Traffic will be contra-flowed in the mauka-bound lanes for two-way flow. Entry and exit from the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center, Costco, etc. will be permitted. Expect slowdowns.

» Kealaolu Avenue from Waialae to Kahala avenues from about 5:30 a.m. until the area is clear. Local traffic may be permitted under the direction of officers at Aukai Avenue. Entry and exit by Aukai only; all other roadways will be closed, and vehicular traffic will be turned around.

» Kahala Towers, Kahala Hotel and Resort and Waialae Country Club traffic will be permitted via Aukai Avenue and Pueo Street when safe.

» Some bus routes will be canceled and/or detoured. Call TheBus at 848-5555 or see www.thebus.org for details. For traffic-only questions tomorrow, call 792-6630.

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