Foothill Flyers Race Reviews
Last update June 10, 2012
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Kilauea Volcano Marathon / 10 mile / 5 mile

This event is no longer held - see below. It has been replaced by the Volcano Half Marathon/10k/5K on the 3rd Saturday in August.



After 26 years, the Kilauea Volcano Runs have run their course.
Volcano Art Center and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park announced Friday that the 2008 races, which were held in July of this year, would be the final edition of the annual event.
Officials from the art center and park said in a joint statement that the necessity and appropriateness of the three races - a 26.2-mile marathon, 10-mile rim run and 5-mile caldera run - being held within the national park have been under discussion between the two agencies for the past several years.
Art center officials declined comment on the situation and park officers did not return phone messages left at their offices Friday afternoon.
"I'm disappointed to see it going," race director Wayne Joseph said. "Runners around the world wanted to join in. It was a wonderful event."
The event, conducted under a federal special use permit, required strict compliance to ensure protection of the park's natural and cultural resources and adherence to national park policy and law, and wilderness regulations.
The summit eruption of Halemaumau Crater that began in March 2008 nearly forced the cancellation of the race this year, but park officials and race organizers worked together to reroute the marathon and 10-mile course to avoid the volcanic fumes and fallout. Sulfur dioxide gas and ash from the ongoing eruption continues to inundate several miles of the former race routes.
"It's sad they decided it was no longer suitable for the national park," Joseph said.
The Kilauea Volcano Runs celebrated its 26th year in 2008. The races often attracted upward of 1,000 runners, and proceeds from the event benefitted the Volcano Art Center.
It's unclear at this time how the center will be make up for the loss in funding.

Download the Letter from the Director of the Volcano Art Center.

Last Saturday in July, Kilauea Military R&R Camp, on Da Big Island of Hawaii, 6 AM Start.

    If you missed the Team Couch Potato Adventure 2005 trip we had planned to go again in 2009. We may still put together a 10 day package with runs on 3 of the islands. Check back from time to time.

Click on Kilauea Volcano above for info: call 808-967-8222, email:

Rated as one of the 10 toughest marathons in the USA mainly due to the first 12 miles on a rough lava flow - 2nd half in the rain forest. You really have to concentrate on the first half of the course which is marked by piles of rocks every 50 yards so as not to get lost or fall into a steaming vent that goes all the way to the center of the Earth. Some wear knee and arm pads so as not to get cut up by the lava if they fall. Your shoes are scrubbed by volunteers at the start to insure that no foreign seeds accidentally get planted which could screw up the ecology. All this above is what those who have done it will tell you to make it sound more treacherous, but in actuality it is not much different than running single track trails in our local mountains.

The marathon, 10 mile and 5 mile all start at the Kilauea Military Camp across from the Volcano Observatory. This is an old R & R camp built before W.W.II and you can stay there for about $10 per night per bunk in an 8 person squad bay if you can sleep through everyone else's snoring. You can use the Lava Lounge bar and bowling alley as well as the Cafeteria and General Store. If you elect to stay in a Hilo hotel, you will have to get up early enough to make the 25 mile drive at Hawaiian speeds - about 45 minutes. The bed and breakfasts in the Volcano Village fill up fast and pickings are slim after April.

The start is usually cool between 60 and 70 degrees given that the altitude is 4000 ft msl and typical cloud cover. It can get into the high 70's / low 80's though and some humidity by 10 AM in the rain forest. There are plenty of aid stations spaced every 3 miles, but it is best to carry one bottle just in case. The first 8 miles on the lava fields are down hill dropping 1000 ft. - the views are spectacular and well worth bringing a camera on the run. Then the course turns left going by sulfur smelling splatter cones and deep sand/ash areas. You need to have faith that there is a secret path up the side of a lava rift rising a few hundred feet to meet the rain forest above. Just before Mile 14 you reach some pavement which lasts for about 5 miles and turning up a jeep road that parallels the Chain of Craters Road called the Escape Road. There are some tough up hills on this road and the age group leaders often change in this section. You will pass the Thurston Lava Tubes and join the 10 mile course at the ledge trail along the top of one of the active volcanos, Kilauea Caldera, to the Volcano House. After wishing you were enjoying a Mai-Tai or Pele's Delight drink like all the tourists you pass at the Volcano House, you have less than 2 miles to go to the finish at the Military Camp.

The 5 and 10 mile are more of a scenic hike actually going down inside the Kilauea Caldera to the floor (varies in height depending on past eruptions) and back up again. Depending on level of training, the 5 or the 10 mile are well worth the adventure for those who are not up to a full tough marathon. The 10 mile Starts at 7AM going the same as the marathoners but turning right to go on the Crater Rim Trail and circling the Kilauea Caldera. The 5 mile is great for walkers with an out and back into the Kilauea Caldera and back up the ledge near the by the Volcano House. The 5 mile Run / Walk starts at 7:45 AM.

Aloha, Tom O'Hara

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