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The Honolulu Marathon starts on Ala Moana Boulevard, which in Hawaiian means "path by the ocean." The second mile of the course runs through downtown along Honolulu Harbor and the historic Aloha Tower, a ten- story clock tower which was the tallest building in Hawaii when it was erected in 1926. Runners turn right into Chinatown and proceed through Downtown Honolulu on South King Street.
The race forks right onto Kapiolani Boulevard through urban Honolulu and in the fourth mile turns right down Piikoi Street. The course returns to Ala Moana Boulevard, this time passing Ala Moana Center, a huge, open-air mall with more than 250 stores.
Mile five races through the concrete jungle of Waikiki high-rise hotels and condominiums, by the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the U.S. Army's Fort DeRussy. The course turns right onto Kalakaua Avenue lined with shops offering everything from tacky souvenirs and t-shirts to high- priced designer merchandise.
Near the sixth mile, the course forks to the left onto Monsarrat Avenue, around the Honolulu Zoo and past the Waikiki Shell. Runners turn right onto Paki Avenue which threads around Kapiolani Park, Hawaii's first public park. As the course nears Diamond Head, an extinct volcanic crater 760-feet high, there are some short, uphill grades and breathtaking views of Oahu's east coastline. The route circles the crater to the left on Diamond Head Road, then turns right onto 18th Avenue.
The race turns right onto Kilauea Avenue in the tenth mile, passing through residential and commercial areas of Kahala then merges into Kalanianaole Highway. The coastal route continues for four miles through the bedroom communities of Waialae Iki, Aina Haina, and Niu Valley.
In the sixteenth mile, runners turn left onto Hawaii Kai Drive into a valley community created by and named for billionaire industrialist Henry J. Kaiser.
For the next four miles, runners double back along Kalanianaole Highway passing Kawaikui and Wailupe beach parks. At mile 22, the course turns left onto Kealaolu Avenue along the Waialae Country Club where the Hawaiian Open PGA Golf Tournament is held. At the road's end, the route turns right onto Kahala Avenue, a neighborhood of luxury homes fronting Kahala Beach and Black Point. Kahala Avenue merges into Diamond Head Road at mile 24, circling back around Diamond Head crater.
As the last mile of the course curves around Diamond Head toward the finish in Waikiki, the route passes Cliffs, a popular surfing spot, and the Diamond Head Lighthouse. At the tip of Kapiolani Park, runners fork onto Kalakaua Avenue. The last stretch of the race runs along the park past Sans Souci Beach and the Waikiki Aquarium to the Finish Line near the Kapiolani Park Bandstand.