Running And Rocking For Peace

Gov. Neil Abercrombie proclaimed April 3 Honolulu Ekiden Foundation Day. Pictured with him are Monisa Cline, VP Sales & Alliances for Hawaiian Airlines; Konosuke Oda, Honolulu Ekiden Foundation president; and Duane Kurisu, Honolulu Ekiden Foundation board director | Tyler Kruse photo

The nonprofit Honolulu Ekiden Foundation hosts its first Honolulu Ekiden & Music Festival May 12, with a team relay-style marathon aimed to promote tourism to the Islands, foster cultural understanding between residents of Hawaii and Japan, and provide an economic boost to the state.

The 26-mile race starts and ends at Kapiolani Park (with Sandy Beach as the turnaround point), and is divided into six segments. Teams may be comprised of two to six participants, with each member competing one or more legs of the race and then handing off a sash to be worn by the next racer. Individual racers also are welcome.

Just as we’re witnessing Americans, particularly Bostonians, coming together with unbelievable acts of kindness in a time of tragedy, one of the goals of the Honolulu Ekiden & Music Festival is team-building.

“Our mission (of the Honolulu Ekiden Foundation) is to promote peace and understanding to people in the Pacific Rim, especially Japan and Hawaii, by conducting sporting events and cultural activities,” explains Jon Nakata, Honolulu Ekiden Foundation secretary.

Ekiden is a type of long-distance relay race that is popular in Japan, emphasizing individual perseverance and team unity. Its name comes from the old method of delivering important news from provinces to the capital through multiple messengers completing different segments of the journey.

The Honolulu Ekiden starts at 5:30 a.m. and will be followed by a Sunset on the Beach concert at 5 p.m., featuring Japanese performers Kimaguren, Rip Slyme and Aqua Timez. There also will be food booths and an awards ceremony.

Prizes will be awarded to the top finishers in the following categories: individual, team, corporate team and student team.

Individual entry fees are $80, $60 (kamaaina) and $40 (children ages 12 to 17, or seniors age 60 and above). Kamaaina team entry fees are $90 (two-person), $135 (three-person), $180 (four-person) and $210 (five-person or six-person). Fees for student teams of six (high school or college) will be waived.

For more information or to register, visit Entry fees include participation in the Ekiden race, as well as admission to the Sunset on the Beach concert.