Maui Oceanfront Marathon (January 2017)

Note: I have about 10,000 pictures from our trip to Maui.  It’s a ridiculously beautiful place.  I limited the photos in this post to the views from the actual marathon course.

Maui is an incredible place to visit, but it’s also a hot location for a marathon.  Fortunately, the race director, Les Wright– or “MOM” as he signs his emails– really goes out of his way to make this both an enjoyable and competitive race.  The marathon begins at 5:00 AM in the coolest month of the year (for Hawaii.)  It was around 68 degrees when we began the race and in the low 70’s when I finished.  (I think the high got up to 83 by the afternoon.)  The sun rises on the opposite side of the mountains, so it didn’t start to get light for us until around 6:30, and the sun wasn’t visible until 7:45 or so.  This allowed me to run the majority of my race in relative comfort.  The marathon begins in Waila and follows a mostly- flat terrain to Lahina.  There is a gradual hill from miles 9.5- 10.5 and rolling uphills from miles 14- 18 or so.  None of these inclines were particularly treacherous, however.  The run through Waila isn’t terribly scenic, but it’s still pitch black outside so it doesn’t really matter.  (We wore headlamps for the first hour and a half.)  By first light, I was running right alongside the ocean, and it was absolutely gorgeous.  January is the start of whale watching season, and while I didn’t see any on my run, I understand that whale sightings are common.

On a less- majestic note, the marathon is run almost entirely on the shoulder of state highways.  This wasn’t a huge deal for the majority of the race as there were only 500 runners, and everyone had plenty of room to spread out.  It did become an issue at mile 20 when we joined up with the half.  The half marathon is an out- and- back, so we had to weave in and out of runners going in both directions…. And we were still on the shoulder of the highway.  I really liked meeting up with a larger group towards the end of the race, but I wish that we would have had an entire lane of highway to run on.  I was beginning to get hot and fatigued by this point, and it felt like a herculean effort to make my way through the crowd.  (Although I did really appreciate all the ‘way to go’s’ that I got from the runners I passed.)

Aside from the limited lane space, I have precious few complaints about the Oceanfront Marathon.  Again, the race director is superb.  A couple of weeks before the race, he began e-mailing daily ‘nags from MOM’ which were super- informative and also quite funny.  I thought the course was very well- planned and the aid stations were plentiful and adequately- stocked.  And ALL the volunteers were extremely encouraging—even in those absurdly early morning hours.  The race finished at the iconic Lahaina Banyan Court Park, and we could literally walk right into the ocean from the post- race party.  The director made a big deal out of the marathon awards; both overall and age group winners got podium time.  As this was my first time standing on an actual podium after a race—and a podium with an ocean backdrop no less—I thought this was pretty cool.

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It was a good day to stand on a podium.

A number folks from my 50sub4 Marathon Club were at this race, and it was a lot of fun to meet them in person.  We had a happy hour the night before the marathon, and most of us met up at the post race party.  Everyone is just as nice in person as they are on Facebook!

The rest of our trip to Maui was fantastic as well, but I think that this marathon was the highlight of my vacation.

** Race Highlights: This is a beautiful course and rivals the Black Hills of South Dakota.  It is difficult to beat running alongside the ocean in Maui.

** The Downside: At about mile 20, the marathon joined up with the half—which was doing an out and back loop.  We were all running alongside the shoulder of the road, so this got very congested and at times, a bit dangerous.

Sub 4:00 State #13, BQ State #11, Sub 3:30 State #4

Finish Time: 3:29:40

Overall Place Within My Gender: 3rd/210

Favorite Race Day Song: “Hand Clap”

Total Training Miles: 3137

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