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Three Quarters Complete Okinawa Marathon

Date Posted: 2000-02-27

The 8th Okinawa Marathon that was run last Sunday, February 20th, attracted a total of 8,130 runners to the starting line despite the rainy and cold weather. Of that initial number, 6,489 completed the course in less than the six-hour time limit.

Koji Koyanagi, an employee of Mitsubishi Heavy Steel Co., was the fastest of them all, completing the course in 2 hours 23 minutes and 32 seconds. The fastest woman runner was Sachie Shimabukuro, a student at the Okinawa International University. Her time was 2.57.38. Hisashi Ameku, a fireman from Ginowan City, was the best Okinawan, finishing with time 2.31.50. That earned him the fourth place overall.

The novelty this year was the 10 km course that attracted 446 runners. Organizers plan to maintain the 10 km race as a part of the event in the future.

The weather was wet and cold, but the runners said that the support and cheers from the volunteers and spectators was enough to warm them up. The organizers had enlisted the help of 3,000 volunteers to man water points, rescue groups, provide massage when needed, and so on. The renowned Nishihara High School marching band provided music at the starting line.

210 foreigners took part in the race. Chad Brown, 23, of Kadena Air Base, completed the course in 4.27.00. I wish I had made better time, but Im still happy that I completed the course. All volunteers were so nice and everybody was cheering. Id like to thank all of them, Brown said.

Yoshitaka Hirata, 56, a disabled runner from Fukuoka, said that Okinawa Marathon has the best course he knows of. The view along the course is changing and there are many scenic points. I also enjoyed the company of so many foreign runners very much... I feel great, Hirata said.

The most unique feature of the Okinawa Marathon, according to runners, is the fact that the course runs through Kadena Air Base. It is something different and something that Japanese runners cannot experience anywhere else.

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