Feeling more stuffed than a Thanksgiving turkey and sadder than a Santa without cookies? I’ve got the perfect holiday hangover cure to give those New Years resolutions a run for their money; and it’s for a good cause that will benefit everyone in the community! Get on those sweatbands and lace up your sneakers, it’s time for the Great Aloha Run!On your mark, get set…Great Aloha Run welcomes locals and visitors of all ages.

Feb. 20 will mark the Great Aloha Run’s 28th year of helping Hawaii become healthier. This 8.15 mile foot race begins at the historic Aloha Tower, winding through Honolulu Harbor and Nimitz Highway, and ending at the back goal line of Aloha Stadium’s north end zone.

People of all ages and backgrounds are welcomed to participate; from elite gazelle-like runners to the take-your-time walkers (that’s me!). I would encourage visitors to take part in this huge and amazing event; not only will you be getting your fitness on and learning about a healthier lifestyle, but you will also get the chance to experience Hawaii’s perse communities by walking and sweating alongside of them. In fact, I just may be walking alongside you, as well! This is my first time doing the Great Aloha Run, or any marathon, in general!

The Hawaiian name for this race, “Ke kukini me ke aloha pau ole” translates as “The race with compassionate love,” reflecting the aloha spirit by including everyone in this community event.

Multiple Divisions for Everyone

The Great Aloha Run has several race pisions which include: Competitive Wheelchair & Handcycle, Elite Runners, Walkers, Baby Strollers, Walking Sticks, Assisted Wheelchairs and all other participants staged by estimated finishing time. Hawaii’s active military are also included in the race. All branches of service participate in the Sounds of Freedom Division, in which military units run in formation while calling cadence. Some of Hawaii’s active military are getting geared up for this year’s run.

Keiki (children), high schoolers and seniors can take part in the race. On Feb. 18, the Let’s Go! Keiki Run will take place, giving elementary-aged kids and their families the chance to run a 1.5-mile course while fundraising for their school’s physical education and nutrition programs. Last year, more than 65 schools raised $25,000 for these important programs!

High schoolers can participate in the High School Fitness Challenge on race day, when students can win cash awards from competing in team obstacles and games. The top three winners will receive a generous donation to their school, however, every school will receive a $200 award just for participating.

Seniors also get a chance to stretch their legs and win some great prizes! The 24th Annual Silver Streaks sunrise walk for seniors will take place at Ala Moana Beach park, where seniors 55 and up can walk the 2-mile course. Greeting them at the finish line will be goodie bags, entertainment, door prizes and a race shirt.

Giving Back and Getting Active with an Expo

Although the Great Aloha Run has many opportunities for our community to get up and get active, they are also focused on giving back. So far, they have raised $9.1 million for more than 150 non-profit health and human service organizations and community groups in Hawaii. Some of these organizations include United Cerebral Palsy of Hawaii, the Girl Scout Council and the Leeward Special Olympics.

If this wasn’t enough, then the Great Aloha Run Expo is an event in itself. It is being held on Feb.17-19 this year at the Neil Blaisdell Center and features many perse booths and demonstrations related to health and fitness lifestyles.

Claire Nakamura, administrator and events coordinator, said it perfectly, “We are just a small outfit doing a big thing. If we can help just one person to be more fitness and wellness minded, then we have won. If we inspire just one person, then they will inspire another. And that’s what it’s all about.”

GREAT ALOHA RUN • Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 • Locals and visitors of all ages welcomed • Register at www.greataloharun.com/race/register • Mail in form, postmarked by Jan. 27, 2012 or sign up at the expo • Inpidual $35 ($50 at expo); Keiki & Senior Divisions $25; Stroller Division $5

Photo Credit: Great Aloha Run

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