JTB Corp. Agrees to 3-Year Deal With Maui Marathon

July 16, 2012, 1:19 PM HST · Updated July 16, 1:53 PM
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Maui Marathon logo courtesy of Maui Marathon.

By Rodney S. Yap

The Maui Marathon is not just a run, but a “cultural experience,” says race director Rudy Huber.

“They were looking for something a little bit different,” Huber said of JTB Corp., the nation’s largest travel agency based in Tokyo, Japan. “We pretty much negotiated nonstop from January. And initially we didn’t know what direction they really wanted to go, but with this marathon being more cultural (compared to the Honolulu Marathon), they decided to come to Maui.”

For his efforts, Huber announced Saturday that he had inked a three-deal with JTB Corp. worth nearly $80,000.

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“There are so many people in Japan who love to run the marathon. In fact, they use a lottery system just to run the Tokyo Marathon and there are more than 200,000 interested runners signed up and only 30,000 actually get accepted. So they are always looking for some thing outside of Japan.”

JTB Corp. already books more than 4,000 runners for the Honolulu Marathon, Huber said.

JTB Corp. logo courtesy of JTB Corp.

“They wanted to have their named on it and I think because Maui is a little bit more cultural they liked that. They wanted to be where the local runners are and experience the luau and the Hawaiian feeling.”

Besides the traditional Hawaiian events like the luau and hula, the Maui Marathon requires all of its aid stations to be decorated in Hawaiian theme. The marathon itself is part of a weekend of events that includes a half marathon, 10-kilometer run, 5K run and walk and one-mile race on Front Street. This year’s marathon, which begins at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center and finishes at Whalers Village, is scheduled for Sept. 16.

“There’s something for everybody. You could bring your whole family and it would be fun for the whole family. And while they are here they get to experience the culture. It’s not just a run, it’s an experience.”

Huber said this year’s 42nd marathon is already up 160 participants.

Expos on the mainland and more advertising in national publications like Runner’s World magazine are some of the ways Huber hopes to increase the number of participants.

With local businesses like Maui Beach Hotel and Seaside Hotel in Kahului, more local runners will want to come, Huber said.

“Local runners are not going to stay out in Kaanapali for three or four days. They want to come for one or two days and stay in Central Maui, where the start of the marathon is right across the street.”

Huber said last year’s events had approximately 2,700 participants, with about 1,000 in the marathon. He said he hopes to double those numbers in the next two years so by the third year JTB Corp. will want to extend its agreement. JTB Corp. is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

Huber has secured the title sponsors for shorter races — Maui Tacos for the 5K, and Hard Rock Cafe for the 10K.

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