Red Bull: Kauai Marathon one of the best

  • Photo by Marianne Buley

    Keali‘ihelera Ka‘imina‘auao of Kalaheo (2899) and Andy Bestwick of Poipu (2900) finish the 2018 Kauai Half Marathon with smiles.

There are, say the makers of Red Bull, 12 marathons you don’t want to miss this year.

You can run in only one of them without leaving this island.

The Kauai Marathon came in 12th in the Austrian company’s “12 best marathons around the world in 2019” list released earlier this year. That puts this race, in its 11th year, founded and owned by Jeff Sacchini, in some elite company. The best of the best, as they say.

“If you’re planning on going the distance in 2019, you need to make it a marathon to remember — whether that’s racing across the sweltering African desert, or over the iconic Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in NYC,” it says at “Here’s a rundown of some of the most spectacular marathons taking place around the world next year.”

This is a select list. A runner’s dream. A runner’s spouse’s nightmare.

Here are the top five: Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris; Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series; Pembrokeshire Marathon; Uganda International Marathon; Virgin Money London Marathon; and Baxters Loch Ness Marathon.

You get the idea — spectacular places and epic races.

The Kauai Marathon is on Sept. 1, so you still have time to register, but even more important, to train.

Here’s what the makers of this energy drink, which sells some seven billion cans a year, had to say about the Kauai Marathon, which is rated four of five on its level of difficulty for its heat and hills:

“If you’ve always fancied holidaying in Hawaii, this is your perfect excuse. Starting on Poipu Beach on the South shore of Kauai, runners make their way along the coastline, through the ‘Tunnel of Trees’, onto Omao and out to Lawai, before climbing to the top of Kalaheo. Climbing 662m of elevation in relentless sunshine, it’s not for the faint-hearted — but it’s hard to complain when you’re surrounded by green tropical rain forests, volcanic peaks and white beaches. With hula dancers and Taiko drum troupes to keep you entertained en route, and a beach party at the finish, it’s hard to imagine a better way to experience Hawaii.”

They are right.

I’ve completed this full marathon five times. This course and I have a love/hate relationship. I love it for the reasons described by Red Bull. The starting line is magical, a blessing. The spectators, the support, the spirit, are second to none. It’s fun, at least in the early miles when running up the Tree Tunnel as the sun rises, soon followed by the gloriously downhill through beautiful Omao. The volunteers carry you (not literally) when you need them. I hate it for some of the reasons — hills and heat that always get the best of me no matter how I prepare — described by Red Bull.

But the finish line next to the ocean is glorious, and hearing my friend and emcee Ron Wiley call your name as you take the final steps over 26.2 miles, will bring that smile back to your face. And the post-race party on the lawn of the Koloa Landing Resort is a wonderful gathering of friends and ohana recounting their victories and defeats on the course. It makes all the pain and suffering you endured to get there something you can laugh about. Well, maybe.

The Kauai Marathon includes a half marathon, which is growing in popularity. Most people run the half, which is also one of the best courses in the world. It doesn’t include all the hills of Lawai and Kalaheo, it doesn’t try to kill you like the full, you’re done sooner, less agony and more time for food and drink.

Now, if this sounds like something you want to be part of — and about 2,000 were last year — then register. Once you register, once you commit to paying, your motivation level to train just improved 100 percent. If you delay registering, you’ll delay training. You don’t want to try the Kauai Marathon without putting in some serious miles first. That would be, in the simplest terms, a painful mistake.

If you need more convincing, if you’re shaking your head and saying, “Not for me,” consider that not only does Red Bull rank this as one of the world’s best, just behind number 11, “The Great Wall Marathon” in China, you can get a deal now.

The Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon has partnered with Work It Out in Kapaa on a special Kauai Resident Registration Promotion. From now through Monday, June 3, any Kauai resident who registers for the Kauai Marathon or Half Marathon at the Work It Out store or online at using promo code WIO19 receives $40 off a full or half marathon entry. Half marathon discounted entries are $85 while discounted full marathon entries are $155.

Despite the trials and tribulations, I recommend the full. It is one of the best in the world.

And that’s no bull.


Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or


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