01 September 2019
The Hawaiian island of Kauai — with its pristine sand beaches, lush jungle-like rain forests and massive green cloud-covered mountains, whose waterfalls bring the heavy rains that collect on the peaks cascading down to the beaches below — offers one of the most beautiful places anywhere on earth for a running event. Both the Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon begin in Poipu Beach, a resort area nestled along the island’s southern coast that features both the Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course and the Kiahuna Golf Club, popular attractions for visitors from around the world who are drawn to the island’s relaxed, unhurried pace and still-unspoiled natural beauty. Both the full and the half marathon courses are considered walker-friendly, and walkers are welcome to compete in either race, provided they can finish within the event’s 7 1/2-hour time limit. While you’re in Kauai — because you’ll no doubt be making a vacation of this running event — there are quite a few can’t-miss spots and activities you’ll have to take in. On this list are a visit to Waimea Canyon (where some of the most familiar photos of Hawaii are often taken), the Napali Coast and the northern coast of the island, which receives usually much more rainfall and is much more green and lush than many areas along the southern and western parts of the island. The courses are USATF certified.
From the starting line on Poipu Road, runners follow a counter-clockwise out-and-back loop course that runs into the island’s interior and then back out again toward the beach, and includes a long, gradual uphill toward the half-way point (and a long, gradual downhill from the half-way point toward the finish). Run through the ‘Tunnel of Trees.’ In the early stretch of the race along Maluhia Road, runners get the chance to run through Kauai’s famous Tunnel of Trees, which were planted more than 150 years old by Scottish immigrant cattle ranchers and remain today as a lush, green eucalyptus-tree corridor linking Kalaheo with Poipu. After this stretch, runners continue on along the first half’s long, gradual uphill stretch along Highway 520 toward the half-way point near Omao, and then turn left (south) toward the town, beginning the long downhill stretch of the race’s second half. On their way through Omao, runners pass through this small town’s homes and shops on their way past the Omao Stream, running along the tree-lined road all the way toward the Kukui’ula Resort. Once they near the resort, runners head inside the resort and are treated to stunning views of the South Pacific Ocean for the rest of the race route all the way into the finish line back at Poipu Beach, near the Sheraton Kauai Resort — where there will also be a post-race party for all finishers, right on the oceanfront of the resort.
The Kaua’i Marathon and Half Marathon begin in Poipu, the world-class resort community at the sunny southern end of the island and run the first 11 miles together. The courses follow the contour of the scenic coastline, offering magnificent views of the island’s picturesque beaches, rugged volcanic peaks, and green tropical rain forests. As dawn breaks, runners will experience lush green vistas as they approach the shade of the century old Tunnel of Trees. The course then winds through misty Omao where the half marathon enters Kukui’ula Resort offering spectacular ocean views for the last few miles. The full marathon heads out to Lawai before climbing to reveal stunning ocean views at the top of Kalaheo. The remaining miles are a gradual descent until runners receive a rousing island welcome upon their return to Poipu Beach.