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Teenager sweeps 14,882 to win his first Naha Marathon

Date Posted: 2005-12-08

Masanori Iwak won the 21st annual Naha Marathon Sunday with a time of 2 hours, 29 minutes, 23 seconds.

The 19-year-old from Chiba Prefecture was crowned champion in his first ever marathon. He defeated 14,882 runners on a brisk, windy morning to claim the title. Hitomi Koike of Niigata captured the ladies trophy with a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes, 24 seconds.

The race course for this festival of the sun, the ocean and the runner tracked from Asahibashi intersection in Naha through the cities and countryside before winding up at Onayama Park on the capital city’s southwest side. Rain plagued the course from the 9am start until noon, and 14.4m/s winds (31mph) whipped across the runners’ paths. It was 18.7 (64 degrees) at the starter’s gun, and only warmed two degrees across the course of the day.

An 81-year-old from Kyoto was the oldest runner to complete the race. Hideaki Kawachi, who says his time was worse than his target, has been running for 28 years. Eighteen years ago he began running at Miyako Jima, and says “running is like looking at myself.” He says he’s basically a lazy man, and a marathon makes him train harder, work harder, and train even harder.

The ‘extreme courage’ award goes to Toshio Furuhata, ran the soggy course with the pain ripping through his leg. Furuhata has an artificial leg, and rain is the most dangerous enemy for amputees. “Oh, please stop the rain,” he pleaded, and it finally did….shortly after he completed the race in 2 hours, 59 minutes, 28 seconds.

The 43-year-old Furuhata lost his leg following an illness when he was 21. He’d been a high school basketball player, and was an active athlete. Sunday his time was good, and he says the roadside supporters gave him a lot of support and were very helpful.

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