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Sunday marathon roams nine cities, towns and villages

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2007-02-23

The Okinawa Marathon, one of the island¹s best known running event, works its way through nine cities, towns and villages of central Okinawa this Sunday.

The starting gun is at 9am at the Prefecture¹s Comprehensive Athletic Park in Awase, Okinawa City. Thousands of runners are registered for either the 42.195-km full marathon, or the 10-kilometer road race. The 10km road race begins a half-hour later, at 9:30am.

Billing itself as an international and inter-cultural exchange, the Okinawa Marathon starts at Awase, then lets the route carries runners through Takahara, near Koza, to Yonashiro Town, north to Kawata and then Agena Intersection, and on to the midway point just beyond Camp McTureous. It continues on to the northernmost checkpoint at Enobi, then turns southwest through Kariyushien, Chibana and Ikento before moving onto Kadena Air Base, then out through Chatan Town. The final 10 kilometers travel through Yamauchi, alongside Camp Foster and into the home stretch back to the Comprehensive Athletic Park finish line.

The best viewing spots for military spectators, civilians and family members is Kadena Air Base. The race route enters Gate 2, then moves past the 30-kilometer checkpoint with its water and first aid station, then out Gate 5. The 1.2 kilometers offer plenty of places to snap some good photographs, sit on the grass and cheer the runners on. Get to the on-base vantage point early. Gates 2 and 5 will close for the marathon, so plan on using alternate gates.

Thousands of runners registered for the grueling marathon back in November, with runners required to be at least 16 or older, and in good health.

Runners for both events will be able to pick up their race number tags on Saturday afternoon at the Comprehensive Athletic Park in Awase. The number tags will also be available Sunday morning.

Officials remind both runners and spectators that Okinawa Prefecture Comprehensive Athletic Park, where the race starts, is not the stadium where the Okinawa Marathon Executive Offices are located. Traffic signs and control points will be plentiful, traffic will be heavy, and many areas will be blocked off, so drivers are encouraged to go the start/finish line area early.

Temperatures along the 26.4 mile race route are expected to be about 16.3C (63F). Elevations vary from flatlands the first eight kilometers to road rises of 60 meters at Yokatsu and Kawata, then to areas more than 100 meters above sea level in the Kadena area.

The route for the 10km quarter-marathon will move northeast to the five kilometer point near the Nakagusuku Wharf Gate 3, then reverse itself back to the starting point.

The 10km Road Race will have its awards ceremony at about 10:30am, honoring the top six male and female finishers. Full marathon awards ceremonies begin at noon for top six male and female finishers. A third ceremony, at 1:30pm, will honor top 3 finishers in various categories including oldest male and oldest female finishers, and year-group finishers, such as “Over 5-~under 60”.

The Okinawa Marathon is being sponsored by the Local Government Association of Central Okinawa, the Field Athletic Society, Okinawa Parks and Sports Development Society, the Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Television Broadcasting Company. Supporting organizations are the Kadena Air Base, Marine Corps Community Services, United Services Organization and 60 other groups and organizations.

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