HONOLULU — So far more than 29,700 runners have registered for this weekend's Honolulu Marathon.
Another 2,000 to 4,000 are expected to enter before the deadline, so total runners could top last year's more than 31,000, organizers told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/18oits2).
The economic impact of Sunday's marathon will be significant either way, said Jerome Agrusa, the chairman of Hawaii Pacific University's Travel Industry Management program.
The race has generated more than $100 million in annual sales over the last eight years, he said.
The race draws a significant number of tourists. More than 18,000 people from 45 countries have pre-registered, including about 13,000 from Japan.
Most runners bring at least one person with them so marathon-related visitors could top 36,000, Agrusa said.
Takeshi Sakai of Hankyu Travel International Co. Ltd. said the company brought 350 runners for the race and that most will bring friends and family, stay multiple days and participate in a variety of activities.
"It's our most popular marathon because the weather is good and the race doesn't limit participants or force them to finish on a strict time," Sakai said.
Rodney Whitaker and his 12-year-old son Logan are among the travelers from the mainland.
"We like it because it's novice-friendly," said Whitaker, of Vancouver, Washington "The first time I ran the Honolulu Marathon, I got beat by a 78-year-old woman with a broken leg."
Hawaii's allure helped Whitaker overcome his initial humiliation to return four more times.
Meanwhile, Kelly Sanders, area managing director of Starwood Waikiki, is savoring the extra business that the well-timed race has brought, especially in the form of group bookings at the Sheraton Waikiki and the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani.
"It's filled rooms during what is generally a soft period," Sanders said.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com