The People’s Race Inc.: Behind the Scenes at the Honolulu Marathon

Paperback: $19.99
ISBN-13: 9780824866747
Published: November 2016

Additional Information

216 pages | 14 b&w illustrations
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  • About the Book
  • The Honolulu Marathon debuted in 1973 as the shared vision of a maverick cardiologist bent on proving the benefit of long-distance running for cardiac patients and an impetuous mayor eager to prove Honolulu the equal of the top cities in the country. Over a span of forty-plus years, the race matured into one of the largest marathons in the world, a $100 million economic engine for its home state, and a launch pad for some of the most dominant long-distance runners in modern history. From its modest start as a community event for local amateurs, the race now regularly attracts 30,000 entrants—more than half from Japan—and boasts elite fields led by Kenyan and Ethiopian professional runners, each hoping to earn a share of a $150,000 prize purse.

    The People’s Race Inc.
    captures the personalities, politics, and power plays behind the burgeoning growth of the Honolulu Marathon and provides a unique lens for understanding the complex history of the sport itself. Drawn from revealing interviews with those closest to the event, as well as exhaustive research, journalist Michael Tsai presents an insider’s account of how organizers forged lucrative partnerships with foreign investors, helped initiate the age of African dominance of the marathon, and weathered some of the most bizarre challenges imaginable. The book also exposes the ways in which the marathon's expansive growth mirrored the explosive, at times bewildering, development of post-statehood Hawai‘i.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Michael S. K. N. Tsai, Author

      Michael S. K. N. Tsai is an award-winning reporter and columnist for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and an instructor of English at Kapi‘olani Community College. He has completed seventeen marathons and ultra-marathons, including eight Honolulu Marathons.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • Tsai’s marathon is a metaphor for a reality we all need to look at again and again, from any angle: our ongoing post-statehood surrender of local control to the highest bidder, whether it’s a shareholder-beholden mainland utility conglomerate, or a multinational seed corporation, or the U.S. military, or the University of California, or—as in the marathon’s case—a tourism industry primarily owned and operated by outsiders. Must read.
      Mark Panek, author of Hawai‘i: A Novel, Big Happiness, and Gaijin Yokozuna
    • Picture elite competitors jostling, trading elbows, and occasionally cutting each other off to maintain position—not in a running event, but in the boardroom of the Honolulu Marathon Association! As a runner who has competed in the New York, Boston, and Chicago marathons (though, ironically, not in the Honolulu one), I particularly enjoyed the undiluted depictions of the talented, colorful, and hard-driving personalities who invented and continually reinvent the marvel known as the Honolulu Marathon.
      Randall Roth, author of Broken Trust
    • Having competed in many Honolulu Marathons over the years, as well as being a race director, I found The People’s Race Inc. to be an informative, fun, and engaging read. I started my marathon career in the mid-1980s, so thought I knew all there was to know about the Honolulu Marathon, but boy, was I wrong. Michael Tsai really provides an in-depth history of running in Hawai`i and does it in a way that even non-runners will appreciate.
      Richard W. Varley, author of A Runners Guide to O`ahu