My top 4 races in Hawai'i!

Picking which race you want to run can be hard. First, you need to decide how long of a race you want to do. Second, you need to pick where. And third, you need to pick when. Sometimes the where and when are so entwined that the two are one decision in their own.

There are a TON of races out there I would love to run. Can anyone say Disney? Yep, I would love to do it as a family vacation. Running and Disney for a little one? What could be more fun?! But often logistics comes in and plays a huge role in the race decision. Add in extra runners in the family and you totally understand where I am coming from on the budget side of running.

But for those of you who are dreaming of a Hawaiian vacation and would love some running, here are some races I love to run and will repeat, if I haven't already. Now I may have a couple of "local" readers and yes, these are great races for you too!

Run for the Whales Half Marathon - Maui
I didn't put the races in any particular order but this one would be the least expensive (historically under $30) of the four I am reviewing. You can learn more about it HERE and don't shy away from the name change to Run and Walk for the Whales. It is still a good run!

You get to choose between running a 5K or the 1/2 marathon and there is a kids 2K as well. It is hosted by a local non-profit, Pacific Whale Foundation, and the funds go to a great cause - protecting the marine environment through science and advocacy.

The course is beautiful and hilly and fortunately last year the half marathon was modified to not include the double loop. However, you did get to run off towards some reserves and it got HOT! But as long as you are prepared, you will do fine. There are age group awards and the top three finishers get medals. There are no finisher medals but they do have some pretty cool runner shirts!

I ran the 5K in 2010 and the half marathon in 2011 and 2012. Race day is the first Saturday of February and is part of Pacific Whale Foundation's annual Whale Festival. And this race is definitely on my schedule for 2013 and potentially with dear hubby!

Wahine Half Marathon - O'ahu
I am in love with this race and it is part of the Run Like a Diva race series. They have a 5K Girls' Race and a 1/2 Marathon women only race. I have seen a couple of men run the 1/2 marathon but they are not allowed to place officially. The race is well organized and I love the all-female aspect to the run....even though I never thought I would.

The run takes you through Honolulu starting and ending at Ala Moana Park and is close to an area of town I used to live. I must say, there are some extremely scenic points that even took my breath away, which says a lot.

There are some elevation changes and be prepared for heat and humidity and stay hydrated. The city of Honolulu is definitely hotter than the runs I am accustomed to on Maui. However, for some of you braving the 100's in your runs, you are probably rolling over laughing at what this Maui Mommy is considering hot.

I ran the inaugural race in 2011 and returned in 2012 to tackle it again. I made a huge improvement in performance and am ecstatic. I would love, love, love to return to run again in 2013 but airfare and turning the event into a family vacation may take it out of my financial reach. But I will be returning again one year!

If you are on O'ahu sometime around April be sure to check this race out. Sorry, at the time I am writing this the 2013 date has not been announced but it has been in early April the past two years.

Once again, I am in awe on how well this race is organized and managed. My personal favorite is all the volunteers and tape on the route marking obstacles and pointing you in the right direction. Oh yeah, don't forget the amazing finisher medals along with a boa at mile 12 and sparkling cider at the end! It also includes awards for age groups.

Kaua'i Half or Full Marathon - Kaua'i
If you are looking for a lush vacation spot and a half marathon or marathon why not head over to Kaua'i, The Garden Island, in September?

The course is beautiful and hilly and I don't know from experience yet but I hear the marathon is hillier than the half marathon. There is wonderful community support for this race and I still get warm, fuzzy thoughts when I think of all the supporters along the way providing encouragement.

I ran the half marathon in 2011 just two weeks before my first marathon. It was a very spiritual run for me and I completely connected to my love of running. I look forward to returning sometime soon, perhaps in 2013 or 2014, to run the marathon and bring my family along.

The cost of registration is higher but if you plan ahead you get a good deal. And they have kama'aina rates for those of you, like me, that live in Hawai'i. But I can't complain about the cost since the race was well organized and I enjoyed the time being able to chat with some really cool people at the expo. The goodie bag was awesome and I received a dry-tech race shirt.

You will get an awesome finisher's medal and if you are speedy, this may be your lucky place and you could win some $$$ with the speed challenges they have. In addition, there are age group awards and the after party is lovely! It truly is one I enjoyed hanging out at but perhaps I was more inclined because I went solo in 2011.

You may also have the opportunity to meet some inspiring people in the running community, like Dean Karnazes.

Maui Half or Full Marathon - Maui
The Maui Marathon is another September race, typically around the 3rd Sunday, and you can choose from the Front Street Mile, a 5K, the half marathon, or the marathon. You can also do a Warrior's Challenge of races.

I ran the half marathon in 2010 and the marathon in 2011. I look forward to returning in September to run the marathon again and aim to set a new PR.

Just like the Kaua'i Marathon, registration fees are a bit higher but if you plan early and register early, your pocketbook is happier! There is the opportunity to add on a lot to your experience with Carb Loading parties, etc. but I have never ventured into this. In all reality, I just enjoyed browsing the expo and spending time with my family before and post race. In addition, I have never truly hung out post race to experience their after party.

This race is entering its 42nd year and knows what it is doing. The half marathon is a pretty flat out-and-back and the marathon starts hilly and ends flatter. It can be a hot race especially towards the end when you are running down Front Street. But as long as you are prepared and stay hydrated, you should do fine.

This race is one I plan to return to in future years and the only reason I may skip it is if I am going to run somewhere else....such as that Kaua'i Marathon.

Disclaimer: Please note, I am not a certified trainer or trained medical professional. These race reviews represent my own opinion and any information I give on cost or course is subject to change at the race director's discretion. Please make sure you are well trained and ready to run a race before entering. Running can be dangerous and I always strongly advise annual physicals and complete honesty with your physician in how you are training in terms of distance and intensity. 


  1. honestly I would love to do any of these races with you!! they seem like so much fun (and I want to meet you so bad!)

  2. I will be referring to this page again in the future. The BFs family goes to Hawaii every month (serious) and wanted to know if there were any races I planned on doing there, as an excuse to go down there again. I want to do Run Like A Diva but it depends on if I am doing Bay To Breakers this year. I can only afford one destination race because they are usually a month apart.

    1. That is great to hear! And if you come at a time with none of these races let me know. I may be able to recommend another smaller race. I will be adding reviews for them too though. ;)

  3. AMAZING!!!! Wish I was headed to Hawaii sometime soon :) Makes me want to visit even more. Thanks for sharing - I'm saving them for the time that I {finally} get to HI!

  4. Omg! Those Hawaii races just sound so amazing!!! I have never ran a race.. Im just more recreational for now, but that would be such anepnderful experience!!!! Thank you for sharing! SPALove!

  5. Why can't I time my trip with any of these? ARGH! I'll be there in October 11 - 16th. Any races wailea?

  6. I think we are going to have to work on getting to a race that obviously makes your heart smile ... the Wahine Run. There is a passion in you when you talk about it that makes my heart smile. So don't give up on that one for next year yet. Run well my friend ... run well.

  7. My Bro is planning on doing the Hana Relay -- I've been wanting to for two years now but things keep getting in the way -- one day!!


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