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Okinawa Marathon

By: Victoria L. Moore

Date Posted: 1998-02-21

The sixth annual Okinawa Marathon held last weekend was a blistering success. Over 10,700 men and women competed in this year's event. The Okinawa Marathon is the only marathon in Japan with a course leading through an American military installation. Due to the tremendous cooperation of the base commander and the support supplied by the base, Americans and Okinawans alike were able to enjoy an international and community relations enhancing event.

Kadena Town Deputy Mayor Eisaburo Yamaguchi said that organizing the event was a formidable task. "In order to have a successful competition it takes at least six months to plan," Yamaguchi said. "Coordination between various agencies that have a part in making the event successful is a huge undertaking. Okinawan hospitals, police and American base officials played an essential role in keeping the participants safe. Many athletes from mainland Japan were invited to compete. Every year the event has grown, but last year it rained and we did not have as many enthusiastic spectators as this year. We are very thankful for the great weather," the Deputy Mayor concluded.

The 18th Support Group Commander, Colonel Bloodsoe, was also happy about the great support given by the many volunteers and staff who came out in numbers to help with this event. "This year over 200 personnel and volunteers worked to insure that participants and spectators enjoyed themselves." Volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol and the Boyscouts augmented the Security Police Force to provide traffic and crowd control. The Base Public Affairs Office was instrumental in organizing the base agencies that manned water supply stations, traffic control, hospital ambulatory services, and various other logistic support. "Almost every organization on base helped to support this event," the commander said.

The winner was Tomoharu Yanagibashi, of Fukuoka City. He completed the race in two hours 23 minutes and 26 seconds. The second place finalist was Youhiko Ichinose. Edward Fisher, from Kadena Air Base came in at two hours 52 minutes and 20 seconds and took first place in foreigners' category. He felt displeased with his personal time. Muneaki Furugen, the 8th person to cross the finish line, was the best Okinawan. He completed the race in 2 hours 31 minutes and 51 seconds.

Several participants were handicapped. A 37-year old woman, who is partially blind, competed in both the Naha and Okinawa marathons. She did not complete the Naha Marathon but did finish the Okinawa Marathon in less than six hours and was extremely happy.

Yoshi Fuji, 60, could easily claim to be the most experienced participant having completed a total of 200 marathons.

Noriko Sakota, a 51-year old housewife from Fukuoka City in mainland has completed 179 marathons. She attained the world record, for most marathons competed by a woman. She promises to continue to increase that record. Last year alone she competed in 67 marathons. She has competed in the Okinawa Marathon twice.

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