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Okinawa Marathon attracts thousands

Date Posted: 2003-02-22

They came in all sizes and ages, from young to old. They all came for the love of running. And when the kilometers were complete, more than 5,000 crossed the finish line at Okinawa’s second full marathon last Sunday.

Some 7,613 runners left the starting line, and 5,269 of them crossed the finish line within the six-hour time limit, including 78-year-old Kiyoe Yamashiro of Sashiki Town. Yamashiro has run the race every years since it’s inauguration 11 years ago, finishing within the time limit every time. Another 681 runners completed a 10-kilometer road race that was held concurrently.

Tomotsugu Yamauchi finished the course in 2:25:40 as the men’s winner. The fastest woman was Yayoi Taira from Nishihara Town who clocked in at 3:08:26.

The oldest woman runner was 69-year-old Hatsuko Ishihara,who entered her first race six years ago and has completed the race every year after that. She credits the marathon for her good health and says that running keeps her looking much younger than the few months shy of 70 she really is. “I have the marathon to thank for my good health, and I’m planning to run it even ten years from now,” Ishihara said.

Thirteen members of the Taiwanese Okinawa Friendship Association also ran. They said that the large number of volunteers along the course especially impressed them. “We have taken part in the Naha Marathon three times in the past, and the support we get from the volunteers along the course is the reason we are able to complete the race. Not only do they dish out drinks, bananas and candy, but they always have nice cheers for the runners,” one member of the group said after crossing the finishing line.

More than 3,000 volunteers along the race course handed the runners drinks, pieces of fruit and wet towels.

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