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Kagoshima man captures Naha City marathon win

Date Posted: 2006-12-08

A 23-year-old Kagoshima man scored a near-record victory in the Naha City Marathon, dubbed ‘Carnival of the Sun Ocean Joggers’.

Nobusaku Sakanaka took the win in the 22nd annual event with a time of 2:27:05. Makiko Kawagae, 30, from Chiba Prefecture took the women’s win in 2:50:28.

More than 21,000 runners entered the marathon, and a record 71.79%, 15,108, finished the grueling run from Asahibashi along Highway 58, then winding around the island before finishing at Onoyama Park.

A love bug that bit two Naha City Marathon runners in 2004 was big news during this year’s marathon. The Taiwanese couple, who met and fell in love during that marathon, were married at the finish line of this year’s event.

A quick change from runner togs to a wedding dress and suit-and-tie did the trick, with thousands of applauding spectators adding the colorful wedding touch. “I have attended the New York, Hong Kong and Hawaii marathons”, the groom said, “but there is none such as the great Naha marathon festival. I like Naha because of the volunteers, the people along the roadside giving foods, dancing, marching and cheering joggers on.”

An 82-year-old Okinawa man, Seiei Yamashiro, and Hideaki Kouchi of Koto, were the oldest competitors. Both say they’ll be back next year, at age 83, to participate again. Another runner drawing cheers was Hayashi Miyagi, a 57-year-old kidney transplant recipient who’s participated 14 times in the Naha City Marathon. He finished with a time of 4:30.

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