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What better place to escape winter weather than paradise proper? The capital of the Aloha State hosts a winter marathon with an island vibe.
RACE. . .
When local shops in Oahu begin to hang up “mele kalikimaka” signs, that means it’s the start of the holiday season—and the Honolulu Marathon (honolulumarathon.org) is just a few days away. This early December race brings more than 25,000 runners to Hawaii each year. The course isn’t easy, but the reworks display before a pre-dawn start and racers decked out in spectacular costumes will ensure you have a boatload of fun. All finishers receive puka shell necklaces to take a bit of the island home.
RUN. . .
Kapiolani Park, which serves as the Honolulu Marathon’s finish line, is a favorite destination among local runners. Nestled between the looming Diamond Head Crater and buzzing Waikiki Beach, the oldest park in Hawaii provides a shaded route during daylight hours. Gnarled banyan trees and wooden gazebos line the two-mile loop. A zoo and aquarium, both housed in the park, provide a glimpse at local wildlife for runners who have extra energy post-run.
SLEEP. . .
The point-to-point race provides shuttles to the starting line, so your easiest option is to stay near the finish. Within a five-block radius, there are a plethora of high-rise hotels to choose from. But if you’re searching for a more authentic experience, book a room at Diamond Head Bed and Breakfast (diamondheadbnb.com). This moderately priced inn run by a local couple offers an eclectic beach-home vibe. The complimentary breakfast includes star fruit straight from the garden.
SHOP. . .
After race day, swap your finisher’s medal for a beautiful, handcrafted lei. Cindy’s Lei & Flower Shop (cindysleishoppe.com), located in Honolulu’s Chinatown, sells intricate designs crafted from fragrant tuberoses, white orchids and ginger owers. If it’s running duds you’re after, check out The Running Room (runningroomhawaii.com), the oldest (and best) endurance sports shop on the island.
EAT. . .
Once you’ve celebrated with fellow racers for 26.2 miles on the course it’s time to treat yourself with some tasty eats. The Side Street Inn (sidestreetinn.com) is the perfect place to fill up on traditional dishes such as smoked pork and ahi poke. If you’re looking for a more elegant meal, head to the famed Alan Wong’s Honolulu (alanwongs.com), where the celebrity chef serves up decadent treats like ginger crusted snapper.