When the Eighth annual Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon starts at 6 a.m. Sunday, it will feature a record field of nearly 2,000 runners and walkers.
And that brings a smile to the face of Kauai Marathon founder Jeff Sacchini.
“This event is all about bringing the community together,” he said.
Nearly 350 were registered for the full 26.2-mile marathon, and about 1,560 for the 13.1-mile half marathon, with more expected to sign up during the Wilcox Health Sports and Fitness Expo at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort. Included in that group is about 675 Kauai residents, also a record number of local entrants.
Sacchini is pleased with the response to the marathon of both runners and walkers.
“That’s one of the wonderful things, whether it’s someone running a 1:35 in the half marathon or a 2:35, it’s people together, out moving, participating, runners and non-runners, wanting to be part of it,” Sacchini said.
He credits the rise to a well-run marathon that continues to increase in popularity both in Hawaii and on the Mainland, and a strong marketing program both locally and with social media. As well, people know some of the proceeds go to charities.
The organization, course, volunteers and aloha spirit earn high marks from participants and supporters.
“One of the reasons we wanted to put this event on was for locals to have a professional event, and they did not have to fly anywhere,” he said.
The marathon is also good for the economy, he said, boosting local businesses, especially this weekend. It has an estimated economic impact of about $3 million.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have the team we have, to have the numbers we have, to have the course we have,” he said. “I’m enthusiastic, I’m excited.”
One concern this weekend is Hurricane Lester, which remains on track to reach the Hawaiian Islands this weekend. Sacchini said marathon organizers are monitoring Lester closely and making contingency plans for any impacts from it.
“We’re just keeping our fingers crossed,” he said.
A primary concern would be strong winds, as runners go up the Tree Tunnel. But as things stand now, the race will go off as scheduled.
“We are planning right now as if the event is going to be unhindered,” he said.