Running Gets Social at Hapalua Half-Marathon

Health and Wellness

Over 7,000 excited and anxious runners lined the secluded streets of Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday, April 10 at the early time of 5 a.m. for the annual Hapalua Half-Marathon. Boasted as Hawaii’s most attended and largest half-marathon in Hawaii, the 13.6-mile course takes participants through the downtown areas of Honolulu and Waikiki, up the hilly terrain of the iconic Koko Head mountain and finally along the Hawaiian coastline before ending at the Honolulu Zoo.

Although this is the 5th year the half-marathon has been organized, race coordinators have stayed relevant with today’s running audience by incorporating several new dynamics for 2016. Utilizing social media and technical capabilities, the race bibs featured a hashtag, #hapalua, in order to encourage conversation and sharing of the event to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, to name a few.

According to a recent article in Natural Foods Merchandiser (2014), “it’s an easy way for your business to track chatter around a topic or to build buzz. And because so many people are using and following specific hashtags, it’s a great way to surface your content among the social media noise.”

A search on , a hashtag tracking company, found that at 9 a.m. of the same day, the hashtag campaign was used in 403 posts, with 199 users, a reach of 190,975, and over 460,085 impressions.

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Sport Management Review, a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal that focuses on the managing, marketing, and governing of all aspects of sports, did a study on how social networking sites (SNS) influence exercise and physical engagement, as well as psychological well-being

According to the study, “This study demonstrates the theoretical potential for running-related social media to serve as an engagement platform that can augment the influence of involvement on the physical and mental benefits of participation in running.”

Julio Nieves, a participant in the event who was running with his daughter Julissa, said that social media has helped many of the people around him, from those who were trying to get into shape to the people who already consistently run.

“its very encouraging, social media can help you at all levels, be it a 5k all the way up to a full marathon,” said Nieves. “I think Facebook groups and programs like that are beneficial to anyone who is interested in starting to run.”

Nieves ran the half-marathon in 03:02:15, running with his daughter during some parts of the race and pushing her in her stroller the rest of the time.

“I love being able to set an example for my daughter,” said Nievs as he was coming off the finish line, medal around his neck and stroller in tow. “It is rewarding to see her get excited about running.”

You can watch more of Nieves and the other runners in the video of the event below:


Baginski, C. (2014). How to use hashtags to attract customers. Natural Foods Merchandiser35(7), 28.

IIIMahan, J. E., Seo, W. J., Jordan, J. S., & Funk, D. (2015). Exploring the impact of social networking sites on running involvement, running behavior, and social life satisfaction. Sport Management Review (Elsevier Science), 18(2), 182-192. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2014.02.006

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