Pounding the Pavement, Aloha Style

Starting at 4:00 am, the buses, both tour buses and school buses, begin loading up the participants who have chosen to park their cars at Aloha Stadium. Before 7:00 am, these buses will take several thousand people downtown for the start of the 23rd annual Great Aloha Run.

The downtown businesses that were smart enough to be open that early made a small killing I’m sure! Looks like Starbucks had a nice morning!

This annual event has become something that a lot of us look forward to each year. The theme for this event was “ke kukini me ke aloha pau’ole” (the race with compassionate love). It is a way to join the community in supporting the community, and a way of achieving a sense of accomplishment after completing an 8.15-mile foot race. Not all race, some join in the event to socialize and just to be a part of things.

Over the last 22 years this event has raised $6.8 million for 26 local charities.

There are walkers, wheelchairs, strollers and, of course, the runners. It may say, “Run” in the title, but the event is open to all who want to participate. Some people walk, some run, some do a little of both. Some people run or walk with family or friends and some go it alone. I, for one, am a loner. It’s my time to be alone with me.

At 6:50 am, ten minutes before the official start of the run, the branches of the military start the show as they begin to run with banners, etc. The “Sounds of Freedom” as this kick-start of the run is called, brings more cheers from the crowd than I’ve heard in a long time. I guess there’s nothing like a war and having troops away from home to bring cohesion and unity to a country. The Fire Boat in Honolulu Harbor sits spraying its support for the participants as we sing the Star-Spangled Banner and Hawai’i Pono’i before the start.

But, Why Run?

The runners can be timed if they choose to be. They will pay a little bit more for the technology and paperwork involved. Some will run just because it’s what they do. People look at runners and shake their heads wondering why they do what they do. I can’t talk too loud; I look at marathon runners and shake my head too!

I read an article once that came to me via email. It was entitled “Why Do You Run?” by Mary Desaulniers. I kept that email and have read that article over again a couple of times. Although the author’s words are not all applicable to me, a lot of them ring true.

“I ran against the pain and through the pain, sometimes weeping, sometimes cursing as my legs carried me numbly over stones and rubble.”

Let’s put this in perspective. Her husband passed away and any pain I may have ever had or any pain I may have now cannot compare to that! However, the ease of emotional and/or psychological pain is a definite benefit. If you choose to weep, people can’t tell the difference between sweat and tears so it’s all good. If it rains, better yet! There’s a special joy to be found while running in the rain. It washes away more than tears. As long as you don’t fall or slip on a metal grid you’ll be fine. If you wear glasses, get contacts.

“…refuge from the frenetic rush of schedules and deadlines.”

Refuge, sanctuary, call it what you will, it’s a place runners go where no one can bother them and they can be alone with their minds as their bodies carry them along whatever path they have chosen. We can relate that path to the path we have chosen for our lives. Yes, you do think weird and deep stuff like that if you keep going long enough. The beauty of the Great Aloha Run is that there is no traffic to be wary of, no traffic lights, no signs to yield to, and no cars. They have closed the streets! It’s our time!

“I run because running has been the only constant in my life, the only thing that hasn’t changed or has survived despite the change.”

I ran at 19, now I’m running again at 43 and she’s right — it’s all about continuity and stability. Okay, so I have to stop and walk more often now and getting up to a greater distance takes longer than it did at 19, but the running hasn’t changed. It’s the same. Drivers are more of a threat than before, but that familiar rhythm of a steady gait still has the power to lull and transfer you to another place where your thoughts are all your own.

As I was running and trying to make at least semi-decent time, I kept wondering how our run is different from those all over the country.

I don’t think there are too many other places that have participants welcomed and congratulated at the finish line by a keiki hula halau (a children’s group of hula dancers).

So many sponsors stepped in to make this Great Aloha Run as enjoyable for all as possible. Hawaiian Springs was also waiting at the finish line with such a lovely site — a one-liter bottle of water never looked so good!

Bananas to replace the potassium are always a good thing to help prevent cramping. Hostess had representatives there handing out sweet bread to everyone to replace some of the lost carbohydrates.

How many other places give leis to finishers? And, candy leis at that! This one young man with his arm heavily draped with leis should really have been working at the airport. I have never seen anyone give leis faster than he did! I made this remark to him and his response to me was to smile and throw one over my head too!

Most people, the normal ones anyway, don’t carry a camera in their fanny pack. So, we have Candid Color Photography at the finish to take people’s pictures to be viewed online.

Mahalo to the Honolulu community, and hugs to Hawaiian Telcom (head sponsor) for a great race!

I hope my finish time was better than it was last year!

UPDATE: I did it! I managed to shave five minutes off of my time from last year. Now I’m on a mission. While I did do better, it wasn’t good enough — I’m gonna take fifteen MORE minutes off of THAT next year!

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Alli // Feb 21, 2007 at 3:45 am

    Congratulations on finishing! I can’t tell you if your run is different than the ones around here, because I have never done one! There is one in the summer with a fun walk along with. I might do that this year.

  • 2 Evelyn // Feb 21, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Thank you! Oh my goodness, I didn’t expect that. 🙂 What a great way to start the day!

  • 3 Angel // Feb 22, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    What a great post. I love these little peaks into Hawaiian life. Good for you for participating!

  • 4 Evelyn // Feb 22, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Thank YOU, Angel! Always happy to share what I can… so you keep coming back!

  • 5 Roger davidson // Feb 22, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    I wish I was there I could run now

  • 6 Evelyn // Feb 23, 2007 at 5:49 am

    There’s always next year, Roger! So you can start making your plans now! 🙂

  • 7 blessed1 // Feb 26, 2007 at 6:11 am

    My dad ran in the Honolulu Advertiser’s Jingle Bell Run one year. I don’t know if they still do those or not. I miss da islands!!

  • 8 Great Aloha Run, 2008 // Dec 27, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    […] I love this event! I talked about the 2007 Great Aloha Run at the beginning of the year. My biggest problem is that I now compare every other running event to this one. […]

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