Come for the Race, Stay for the Paradise
Experience the culture, traditions, and community of Kauai in an iconic island race for runners and walkers
Kauai’s tropical wonderland is the perfect backdrop for The Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon, which takes runners through one of the most beautiful racecourses in the world today. Participants glimpse sparkling blue water, pristine white sand beaches and lush mountains during the 14th Annual event on Sunday, September 3, 2023.
The race began with a vision from event founder and avid runner, Jeff Sacchini, while out on a training adventure in Poipu, Kauai. His passion was to create a destination marathon experience on the South Side of the island, and two years later it came to fruition. The inaugural event took place on September 9, 2009, and has continued to bring runners and walkers together during Labor Day weekend ever since. The weekend festivities now include a 2-day sports and fitness expo at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Fun Run, Wilcox Health Keiki (children’s) Run and the finisher’s festival at Koloa Landing Resort.
The exhilaration of race day begins with the gathering of runners for the warm-up, and many participants’ beverage of choice, Kauai Coffee. As a side note, the ladies at KC are awake at midnight brewing up their finest.
Then it is time to toe the line, which is like no other in road racing. Fiery tiki torches flank the road welcoming runners while the blowing of conch shells signify the beginning of the day. A Hawaiian blessing followed by the singing of Hawai’i Pono’i always gives participants “chicken skin” as they prepare to embark on their own journey along the course. For some, it is a race for a personal best, but for others, it is a run dedicated to a loved one or cause, or a personal goal of completing something they never thought imaginable.
And that is just the beginning. Over 750 Kauai residents volunteer along the course to make sure that every runner and walker is cared for. Whether it is aid station helpers handing out water and electrolytes, neighbors cooking bacon to give participants that extra pep in their step, or a spectator simply giving a high five to keep someone’s spirits up, the island vibe and warm hospitality can be felt by every single participant.
It also doesn’t hurt that along the way you are treated to a gorgeous Kauai sunrise, awe-inspiring views of the historic Tunnel of Trees, cheers from residents in the neighborhoods of Omao, Lawai and Kalaheo, as well as one of the most stunning oceanfront finish lines in the world.
A truly remarkable experience along the course for participants is the sharing of Kauai’s culture and heritage through hula and music. For the 2023 event, organizers are honored to have 2022 Merrie Monarch Overall Winners Hālau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinā‘ala’s seventy-five musicians, dancers, artisans, and chanters along the course – something that you can’t imagine experiencing until it actually happens to you.
The beauty of being part of a full or half marathon (whether you are a spectator, participant, volunteer, or organizer) is that every participant has a story to tell, and watching the diversity of people cross the oceanfront finish line is truly an emotional experience. From tears of laughter and joy, to shear exhaustion from pushing the limits of their bodies, their faces always tell their own unique story. But it doesn’t end there. As the participants make their way through the finisher’s chute, they are lei greeted with a beautiful medal to culminate their own personal journey. A few steps further and they are treated to ice cold beer, refreshments, live music, and plenty of love from friends and family.
And then the relaxation or exhilaration part of the post-race experience can begin, because you have just finished an extraordinary race on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The choices are endless…You can sail down the Napali Coast, zipline through a tropical rainforest, or literally kick off your shoes and lounge poolside at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and Koloa Landing Resort.
Just like choosing which race to run/walk throughout the year, your post event ritual is all about you. Aloha and we look forward to seeing you on the start line Labor Day weekend!