After years of not having a 26.2-mile footrace along Kona’s beautiful coastline on Alii Drive, Saturday’s 4th edition of the 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon will feature a full marathon distance.
“The goal was always to add a marathon, but we wanted to make sure that the numbers were there,” said race director, Keely McGhee of Hilo. “Last year was successful, so Melissa (Braswell of Big Island Running Company) and I reviewed the idea again and decided to go for it.”
Both running events wrap up the week long Kona Coffee Cultural Festivities and will start and finish on Alii Drive in front of Coconut Grove Marketplace. Saturday’s 26.2-mile race will begin at 5:30 a.m, while 13.1-mile run will begin at 6 a.m.
McGhee said logistically, it was easy to add a marathon distance.
“I just extended the hours of the road closure to allow for the added distance. We’ll see how it goes this year and decide (after) if the course worked or if it will need some tweaking for next year.”
Racers will head south before encountering Keauhou’s challenging hills that includes running into the infamous “Pit,” also known as the End of the World before heading back to Coconut Grove Marketplace. Four-aid stations will be spaced approximately 1.5-miles apart so that runners will be able to utilize each aid station twice for the half marathon, or four-times for the marathon, due to the out-and-back layout of the course.
As of Wednesday, there were nearly 300 total entrants with 60 registered for the marathon. The numbers reflect the continued growth and success of the event and McGhee said there are already 100 more registered for this year’s race.
A few of our local speedsters who have signed up for the marathon include two-time half marathon women’s champion, Bree Brown, and Kailua-Kona’s Jacob Fansler. In the half marathon, expect to see Kailua-Kona’s David Wild and Holualoa’s Laura Ankrum pushing the pace up front.
Packet pick up and late registration will be available Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Big Island Running Company located at Coconut Grove Marketplace, and race morning from 4:30-5:15 a.m.. For more information visit purekonahalf.com.