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Newcomers claim victories in Sunday’s Naha Marathon

Date Posted: 2011-12-09

A Kyoto man and a Tokyo woman stood atop the victory pedestal in Naha Sunday afternoon, first time winners of the Naha Marathon.

Both the men’s and women’s winners from the 2010 Naha Marathon couldn’t find the right strides, both finishing minutes behind the leaders to finish in third place. Kenshi Oonaka of Kyoto easily outdistanced Yuki Murato of Kanagawa to finish more than three minutes ahead with a time of 2 hours 25 minutes one second. Last year’s winner, Kouji Hayasaka of Miyagi, placed third with a time of 2 hours 29 minutes 28 seconds.

On the ladies side, Yuka Aikawa of Tokyo was smiling in the afternoon Okinawa sun as she claimed her prize after winning the Naha Marathon with a time of 2 hours 58 minutes 4 seconds. Second place went to Okinawan Natsuki Murata of Urasoe with a time of 3 hours 4 minutes 56 seconds. 2010 winner Tui Takaiwa of Ibaraki was a half-minute behind that, finishing third with a 3:05:33 time.

A total of 23,988 runners began the Naha Marathon from Onoyama Park—17,473 men and 6,515 women—but only 71.11% finished the grueling 42.295 kilometer course, a total of 17,038. That figure, 13,098 men and 3,969 women, was slightly below last year’s completion percentage of 71.98%.

A 54-year-old acupuncturist was one of the several hundred handicapped runners in the race. Kayomi Hayashi has inborn visual impairment and ran the race with his employee and pacesetter, Seiji Naito, 54, and 14 other visually impaired individuals ages 40~60. “I cannot experience other courses,” Hayashi says, but explains that with the Naha Marathon “I can understand the width of the road up and down by voice echo or direction. It’s like I can see the course.”

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