Nakama shooting for Okinawa Marathon three-peat

The weather is expected to cooperate when over 10,000 runners cross the Okinawa Marathon 2013 starting line on Sunday.

Kouta Nakama is ready to make it three-in-a-row at the Okinawa Marathon, which is coming up Sunday, February 17th.

Hea won the event last year, knocking off the competition to win the 2012 Okinawa Marathon, while fellow Okinawan Ryuto Narita again finished third.  He outdid himself by more than two minutes over a year earlier winning the 2011Okinawa Marathon with a time of 2 hours-23 minutes-38 seconds.  Second place went to Atsushi Toyama last year with a time of 2:27:08, while third went to Okinawa City resident Narita with 2:32:52.

Takako Yamada pulled forth the winning ladies time with 2 hours-27 minutes-8 seconds, 19 minutes faster than Mariko Asato’s winning time in 2011.  Asato, an Okinawan, finished third last year with 2:51:08 after a 2:46:55 winning time a year ago.  Second place went to Yuka Ezaki at 2:27:41.  She also finished second in 2011.

A total of 11,211 started last year’s grueling race, with 79.5%, 8,918, finishing the race.  Officials say last year’s event marked the largest number of entries ever recorded for the Okinawa Marathon.  The oldest runners to complete the marathon course within the time limit were 79-year-old Sadao Nagai on the men’s side, and 69-year-old Fusako Fushimi on the ladies side.

The 2013 Okinawa Marathon is the best known of the island prefecture’s marathons, offering a grueling, challenging 42.195-kilometer course that takes runners through central Okinawa.  The Association of Okinawa Central Local Governments expects the event to be an inter-cultural exchange as well as an international road race.  Organizers have also plotted a 10km road race that kicks off one-half hour after the marathon start, at 9:30 a.m.  Registration has been closed for weeks, with an expected 11,000+ runners ready to hit the street from the Comprehensive Park starting line.

The weather’s expected to be fine for a Sunday run, with meteorologists predicting few chances of rain showers at race time.  Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-60’s (18C).  Temperatures will vary across the 26.4 mile race route, as elevations vary from flatlands in the first eight kilometers to before moving a bit higher around Yokatsu and Kawata, than to areas more than 10 meters above sea level in the Kadena area.

The course works its way through Kadena Air Base, and the Air Force’s 18th Wing will provide support.  Runners will enter the base through Gate 2 on Kuter Boulevard, turn left onto Vincent Avenue at Chapel 2, then left on Schreiber Boulevard at Kadena High School, and exit through Gate 5.  Gates 2 and 5 will be closed to vehicles from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  A public affairs spokesman says pedestrians will still be able to enter both gates Sunday with authorized base passes.

Drivers should expect delays on Kadena, as marathon runners will have priority over vehicle traffic.  Officials say pedestrians will be allowed to cross the marathon route at the Main Street Food Court crosswalk, the crosswalk at the USO, and at a temporary crosswalk that will be set up behind the Officers Club to cross Kuter Blvd.  Traffic will be controlled by Security Forces.

The Okinawa Marathon begins at Awase, then carries runners through Takahara, near Koza, to Yonashiro Town, north to Kawata and then Agena Intersection, and on to the midway point near Camp McTureous.  The race continues to the northernmost checkpoint at Enobi, then turns southwest through Kariyushien, Chibana and Ikentou before moving onto Kadena Air Base, then out through Chatan town.  The final 10 kilometers travel through Yamauchi, alongside Camp Foster and into the home stretch to Comprehensive Athletic Park finish line.

An awards ceremony for the 10km road race is set for about 10:30 a.m., honoring the top six male and female finishers.  A full marathon awards ceremony begins about noon, and a third ceremony in early afternoon will honor top finishers in categories including oldest male and oldest female finishers, and year-group finishers.

There are five designated parking lots along the course: Shopper’s Awase, Tropical Technology Center (T.T.C), Kitanakagusuku Fisherman’s Association and Awase Fishing Port, which are about five kilometers away.  Parking is prohibited at Okinawa Comprehensive Park on race day.  Parking Lots are available from 07:00 a.m. on the race day.  To take public transportation: Buses, Taxies, and Carpools are highly recommended. Tow trucks will remove any illegally parked car around Okinawa Comprehensive Park.

Shuttle buses will be running on race day, and buses, taxis, and carpools are highly recommended.

Applicants can confirm their number cards on the Okinawa Marathon official website.  Runners may pick up their number cards and either a T-shirt or a towel at the Okinawa Comprehensive Park gymnasium in Awase from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday the 16th, or starting at 7 a.m. on race day.