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Honolulu Marathon is a go this year, with kamaaina registrations opening in June

                                Racers run along Ala Moana Blvd. at the start of Waikiki in the 47th anniversary of the 26.2 mile Honolulu Marathon.
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Racers run along Ala Moana Blvd. at the start of Waikiki in the 47th anniversary of the 26.2 mile Honolulu Marathon.

Organizers of the Honolulu Marathon say they expect to hold the 26.2-mile event in person this year following last year’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 Honolulu Marathon, as well as the Start to Park 10K and Kalakaua Merrie Mile are scheduled to take place Dec. 11 and 12 this year. The Kalakaua Merrie Mile takes place Dec. 11, while the 2021 Honolulu Marathon and Start to Park 10K take place on Sunday, Dec. 12.

Early registration for Hawaii residents begins June 1 at honolulumarathon.org.

Dr. Jim Barahal, chief executive officer of the Honolulu Marathon Association, said all indicators point toward the possibility of holding the events by this December.

Barahal said he was looking at both the science and sentiment, and that both supported holding the events.

“I really believe science is such we’re going to put this event on without too many changes,” said Barahal. “Whether it will look exactly the same as in the past is something we’re not able to determine right now.”

Sentiment-wise, Barahal has been monitoring the Star-Advertiser’s online polls of subscribers, and said he sees growing support towards reopening and a return to normalcy.

Barahal said he believes the state and City and County of Honolulu will both be supportive. The other advantage is that the events are held outdoors, which science supports as safer, he said.

“So we have to anticipate with the incredibly high vaccination rate in Hawaii, we will continue to open up,” he said. “So we’re going to move forward, and start our planning. I think things are moving in the right direction.”

Barahal said he has been watching what other states have been doing — and that he’s seen more sporting events opening up on the mainland, including Fenway Park, which will reopen in Massachusetts with no capacity limits at the end of this month.

“I think the science and overwhelming sentiment of people in Hawaii is we want to get back to normal life,” he said, “and as we see what’s going on on the mainland, activities and concerts and sporting events, major road races, are being promoted again.”

In 2019, about 30,000 participated in Honolulu Marathon events, but that number may be smaller this year.

Travelers and sponsors from Japan, a large base of support for the Honolulu Marathon in the past, may also be participating in much fewer numbers due to challenges from the pandemic.

Barahal said COVID-19 vaccinations will play a pivotal role. He expects a large percentage of participants this year will be from Hawaii, where vaccination rates are currently high.

At the same time, travelers will either be tested within 72 hours prior to travel or vaccinated, as well.

Some possible changes organizers may have to consider are a staggered start time and COVID-19 testing. The 26.2-mile marathon begins on Ala Moana Boulevard and ends at Kapiolani Park.

The Honolulu Marathon Virtual Beachfest, which was held last year in lieu of in-person events, turned out to be a hit, drawing about 16,000 participants, and will be held again this year.

The Virtual Beachfest is ideal for those unable to travel to Hawaii, or who would prefer to run in a larger group. Options are also available for those who want to complete the 26.2 miles of the marathon over more than one day.

Hawaii residents can begin registering at kamaaina rates from June 1 to 14 for $68, and get a complimentary In-Training shirt. North America residents may begin registering at discounted rates from June 15 to June 30.

General registration for all regions, except Japan, opens on July 1.

Anyone with a valid entry from 2020 is also eligible to participate, and will be emailed a unique transfer code and instructions on registering for the 2021 events at no charge. The registration form for deferrals, however, will be different than for those paying for their registration.

The entry fees are non-refundable. If for some reason, the event is canceled this year, they may be deferred to the next marathon or transferred to the Virtual Beachfest.

Visit honolulumarathon.org for more information.

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