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Record number of Okinawans to run Honolulu Marathon

Date Posted: 2003-11-09

At least 50 runners from Okinawa are scheduled to take part in the 2003 JAL Honolulu Marathon that takes place on Dec. 14. The number well exceeds last year’s participation when 43 runners took part. This year’s race marks the 31st anniversary of the event and, according to organizers, 34,000 runners have already registered including 17,266 from Japan alone. 80 percent of the runners are reportedly first timers.

Hawaii has many people who are descendants of earlier immigrants from Okinawa, and they are volunteering for the event in record numbers. The third generation Hawaiian, Tadashi Lotto Tome, celebrates his 25th time as the Honolulu Marathon organization volunteer. All in all, more than 10,000 volunteers will ensure that everything at the event goes smoothly. Takushi Ari, also a descendant of Okinawan immigrants, has prepared cookies and fruit to runners for 10 years. “The runners are like a family for us,” Ari said.

For this year’s event, Ari has help from his daughter in preparing some 200,000 cookies and 30,000 apples for the runners. For weeks they have waken up at 3 a.m. every day to make sure that everything is ready when the big day comes.

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