Running around Diamond Head... annotated

Last year Caroline and I signed up for the annual Great Aloha Run, an 8.2 mile fun run from Aloha Tower to the Aloha Stadium.  As we picked up our racing bibs on Saturday, we started chatting about the logistics... what time to get up (early), where to park, taking a bus to the start line, waiting for an hour with a few thousand other runners, standing in line for the porta-potties, walking or barely running for that first half mile because slow runners and walkers were near the front of the starting line instead of the back, waiting for awards, then driving back.  The route isn't even scenic... downtown Honolulu.

So, a last minute change of plans was in order.  Instead of the Great Aloha Run, I would run one of my favorite Honolulu runs at the same time for a distance of 8 miles.  There was no finisher medal or tee at the end, but the scenery was great and I had lots of elbow room. This run started at Kapiolani Park near the Waikiki Aquarium, went around and up into Diamond Head, then finished back at Kapiolani Park.  I've run this before, and I have a 5.5, 6.5, and an 8.0 mile route mapped out.  Today, in honor of my absence at the Great Aloha Run, I was going to run the 8 mile route and annotate the effort in order to encourage others to run it as well.

One of the nice things about Kapiolani Park is that there are still locations with free parking. I pulled into a street stall (free 2 hour parking), geared up, turned on Map My Run, and I was off, running on the sidewalk behind the Waikiki Aquarium and the Natatorium and next to San Souci Beach, then on the sidewalk along Kalakaua Avenue toward Diamond Head.  There was a light sprinkling of rain, but nothing major. When you leave Kapiolani Park behind, you enter a small neighborhood that's known by many as an access point to Tonggs Beach (look for the mermaids).  We have a relative of the Tonggs staying with us at the moment (thanks for the stories, Gia!).  I found out about this spot when Katelin was working on an invasive algae project, and she needed ocean access to reach a randomly selected transect.

Then you turn on Coconut Avenue for 2 blocks and on to Diamond Head Road. Here you are at about mile 1.  You'll pass the Diamond Head Lighthouse as you run a slight uphill.

The view from Diamond Head Lookout (which is not in Diamond Head).  I've even tried surfing here!

You then begin a slight downhill into Kahala.  Now, you can continue following Diamond Head Road around Diamond Head, but I added a little spur to get to 8 miles. I continue straight on to Kahala Avenue, following the coast, until I reach 2 lion statues fronting a driveway.  You can add another mile by continuing to the stop at the end of this road (there's a park with restrooms), but I usually turn at the lion statues.

Then back along Kahala Avenue to what I call Triangle Park (actually Fort Ruger Park), which is like a big green triangle (duh).  There's no restroom here, but there is a drinking fountain.  This park is a common starting place for cyclists who ride to Hawaii Kai and back. Oh, and along the way you'll see markings on the road for the Honolulu Marathon, which is the tail end of that race.  Oh, the pain... you've gone 24 miles, and now you have to run this incline!

Just keep running around Diamond Head, and soon you'll see a very nice, very wide sidewalk called the Fort Ruger Pathway that will lead you to the road entrance for Diamond Head State Monument.

After about a quarter mile, you'll be at the road entrance.  Turn uphill, natch, and bear down as you climb.

The tunnel into the crater is narrow and unsafe. Just be patient, and understand that you may have to walk through the tunnel if there are other pedestrians.

Then you are into the crater!  On to the entrance kiosk.

Make sure you bring a $1 bill to cover the entrance fee.  "Funny" story here... I once ran a 12 mile run that included going into the park... and I dropped my car keys at the kiosk when I was pulling my dollar out.  I realized this when I had returned to Kapiolani Park.

Once inside, you have access to a drinking fountain/bottle filling station and a restroom. Depending on the day and time, here's where the crowds are. Today (President's Day) was bad.

I run about half way up, to a green shed.  Here's where I stop, drink from my running bottle, and have a gel, and then start downhill.  This is 5 miles at this point.  I don't go further up because the path narrows and you really can't pass people, so you'll walk instead of run.

The path goes from a wide concrete path...

... to a mock stone trail... the green shed.

Back through the tunnel you go, then back down the road.

This view is looking toward Koko Head and Koko Crater, after coming back out of the tunnel.

It's 2 miles to the beach after leaving the access road.  You stay on Diamond Head Road, which becomes Monsarrat Avenue, which ends at the Honolulu Zoo.  And you are back!

While I was out running, Caroline, Rainy, Jordy, and Gia were doing yoga before they were going to go surfing, paddle boarding, and snorkeling.


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