Maui Oceanfront Marathon – Good Times in Paradise!

There’s something wonderful about marathons, especially when you have friends from out of town joining in the 26.2 mile quest. Then, throw in some energetic, cheering family and friends following you along the way, and add in the beauty of Maui, and you set yourself up for a great day!

This is the second time I’ve run the Maui Oceanfront Marathon and, although a tough race, it’s put on quite well.  If you register early, minimum cost is $80 (and if you’re a local, you get a 5% discount).  Most runners probably procrastinate like me, and end up paying $115-$120.  Les Wright is the race director, and he also puts on a marathon in Lake Tahoe.  Les must be quite entrenched in Maui since he seems to have quite a bit of community support.  I requested bib #91 in advance (this was my 91st marathon), which Les said he put aside for me, however, I ended up getting bib #6.  Les said I was bumped over some donor program that gives the top donors the low numbers. He said none of the volunteers would know about it and neither did I.  Maybe I bumped myself out of #91 since I had bib #6? I did donate a little.  Oh well (and thanks for listening to my complaint).

Kristin, Andy, Jim, Steve, Jay, Nicole

Anyway, the marathon starts in Wailea at 5:30 AM, and the average runner can expect to reach between miles 10-13 just as the sun peaks the majestic Haleakala Volcano,  then things start to heat up.   Headlamps are strongly suggested since the route is along South Kihei Road against oncoming traffic in the dark initially.  Also, there are some tricky spots along the way–rocks and narrow sections.   Though the first mile is a mix of down and uphill, the course is basically flat for the first 10 miles… until the last mile on North Kihei Road, then the fun really begins.  Hills, hills and more hills for the next five miles, both downhill and uphill on the Honoapiilani Highway.  No doubt about it, the views of the ocean and mountain vistas are breathtaking at the highest elevation point of the  race.

Finally, you reach the Honoapiilani Highway tunnel and start your decent and you start to feel the increase in temperature.  From that point on, the scenery is absolutely spectacular, the course is flat and the aid stations are a plenty, well staffed and stocked.  It’s a long, flat, straight trek with only about a mile of shade provided by gorgeous monkey pod trees in an area called Olowalu.  As  you continue, there are more beautiful ocean views with breaking waves, surfers and paddle boarders, wind and if you’re lucky, you may spot a whale spout, or an actual whale jumping.  Finally, there’s that magical  left turn onto Front Street in Lahaina that leads you to the finish line, just a little less than a mile away.

Debbie & Jim

This marathon was special because my wife, Debbie, was cheering me on, providing encouragement, cold hand towels and cold water along the way.  It was a really a joy to see her along the route and she even ran a few hundred feet with me.  This is more remarkable as she had open heart surgery just two months ago!  And of course the other joy was to have my running friends from Denver participate.  It was so cool to run with Kristin and Andy part of the way and when I crossed the finish line, Jay and Andy (who pulled ahead of me about half way through the race) were already done. Steve, Kristin and Nicole were still on the course but not far behind.  Once we were all done we congratulated each other, took a group picture and headed to Cheeseburger in Paradise for our after marathon nutrition and some beer of course!

Maui is a small island. The next day Monday, my friends from Colorado and I went to a local, fantastic restaurant in Paia, Hawaii called Flatbread (quite possibly the best salads and pizza on the planet). While there we ran into an incredible and inspirational runner named Barefoot Alex. Alex ran the Maui Oceanfront Marathon barefoot with his friend, Matthew Forber which I have been Facebook friends for some time.  What an absolute unexpected pleasure to run into and meet Alex. Matthew and Alex are signed up for the Leadville 100 this upcoming August. The Leadville 100 was featured in the best selling book, Born to Run. A few if of my Colorado friends have completed the Leadville 100 and I’ve actually been there providing crew and pace support.  Matt and Alex are in for the most incredible challenge, but extremely rewarding expreience of their life. You can see my four part Leadville video at my YouTube link. Be sure to check out Dr. John Hill’s talk which really preps participants.

Finally, should you do the Maui Oceanfront Marathon?  Sure, to enjoy a beautiful marathon, but certainly not to PR or qualify for Boston!  It’s a little too hot and difficult of a course!  Run it for the wonderful experience and wrap a nice little vacation around it.  For me, since I live on Maui, I’ll do this marathon again next year for certain.  I have nine more marathons to go to the magical number of 100! Really, all it takes is just putting “One Foot in Front of the Other!”


I post my blog every Tuesday and occasionally on Friday.  Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Youtube, and feel free to forward this blog post to others in your network.  Also, on the homepage of this site, sign up for updates on my upcoming book, “One Foot in Front of the Other“.  You’ll also receive my first chapter FREE!  And lastly, I was featured on a Podcast on November 11, 2012 on Runner Academy and on March 13,  2012, on The Conversation Hub!  Enjoy!

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Categories: Cool Memories, Inspirational People & Stories, Inspirational Runs, Marathons, Running Related, Social Media, Twitter, Why I Run
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  • Irina C says:
    May 21, 2013 4:04 PM

    Thanks, Jim! Heard you on a Runner Academy podcast and when you mentioned you moved to Maui I wanted to see if you had any advice about running around here. Your blog is the answer to that! We moved here last year and MOM was my FIRST marathon. It sure is a small island and world – I’m actually behind you in a grey T-shirt (in your picture with Debbie above).
    I’ve now officially caught the running bug so I’m sure I’ll run into you at one of the beautiful races Maui has to offer!

    • Jim Lynch says:
      June 08, 2013 8:40 AM

      Aloha Irina…Sorry I did not respond sooner been a busy month. Yes, I do live here on Maui on the south side in Kihei. Where do you live on the island? There is one running group VIRR but they mostly focus on races and there is a lack of organized training runs. I can fill you in on what we do on the South Side and give you information on other things on the island. Feel free to E-mail me at

      Funny on the picture that you spotted yourself! I’m doing the Kona Marathon in two weeks. Going to be a hot one! Stay in touch!

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