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Big Island Marathon to impact Hilo traffic (March 17)


The 16th annual Big Island Marathon is Sunday, March 17, starting at the Pepeekeo Community Center at 6 a.m.

Runners will finish at the east end of Hilo Bayfront Park after completing the 26-mile course that runs through many parts of Hilo, including the bayfront area, Banyan Drive, airport and rubbish dump roads, and Keaukaha out to Richardson’s Park.

The course will affect early morning traffic that is travelling in the Pepeekeo area on Highway 11.

Highway 11 will be closed briefly at 6 allow runners to cross the highway at Kaakepa Street. Runners will have access to the entire roadway of the narrow and winding Onomea Scenic route between Pepeekeo and Alae Point.

This portion of the race will be run in twilight conditions with poor visibility along the route. Although traffic is light at that time of the morning, drivers are nonetheless urged to use extreme caution, drive slowly and pause before proceeding around any blind curves.

There is another Highway 11 crossing at Papaikou (Kalanianaole School), and authorities ask the kokua of drivers since Highway 11 will be subject to occasional closures when runners are directed by the police officer to cross.

The marathon route takes runners through Honolii Gulch, emerging at the access area of the surfing beach which will result in interactions with the many surfers driving in to park along the narrow roadway above the beach.

Authorities also ask the kokua of the surfing community to yield to the runners between approximately 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.

From Alae Point, the route runs along the makai shoulder of Highway 11 into Hilo town and continues along Bayfront Highway, through the bayfront park, and over the Wailoa Bridge to Lihiwai Street.

There will be one-way traffic through the Banyan Drive area to accommodate runners, as well as police officers present near Suisan for the safety of the runners. Runners will be present along Banyan Drive, Banyan Way, and Lihiwai Street for much of the morning until about 1 p.m.

Another highway crossing occurs at the major intersection where Banyan Drive meets Kanoelehua/Kamehameha/Kalanianaole Avenues at Verna’s Drive-In.

Yet another crossing occurs at the entrance to the Airport Access Road and finally on the Airport Road near the Post Office. Police officers will be present at these locations. Drivers are urged to slow down and yield to runners for their safety.

After turning around near the Post Office, the runners return to Volcano Highway via the Leilani “tsunami escape route” and rubbish dump road.

Because of the narrow roadway and lack of shoulders, Leilani Street will be one-way traffic from 6:30 a.m. until about 10 a.m.

Motorists driving to the transfer stations, and after dumping their loads will be directed along the Leilani “tsunami escape road” to the Airport Road for the exit back to the Volcano Highway. Please use caution, slow down, and yield to runners.

Runners will utilize the sidewalks in Keaukaha until these end near Onekahakaha Beach, and will then be running on the shoulders of Kalanianaole Avenue through the beach park areas.

Areas impacted include Kealoha Beach Park, Onekahakaha Beach Park, and Richardson’s Beach Park. Motorists should be particularly cautious at the end of Kalanianaole Avenue where the runners will be at a “turnaround” point for return back towards Banyan Drive.

Again, subject to a few detours, brief road closures, and one-way traffic conditions, roads will remain open for the most part, but drivers should be aware of the presence of runners and exercise restraint and caution from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The Big Island International Marathon Association understands that any traffic restrictions can be frustrating for some, but we humbly ask your cooperation and we thank you for taking those extra steps to ensure the safety of runners and spectators alike.

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