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11,000 to run weekend Okinawa Marathon

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2008-02-21

Okinawa’s premier marathon is expecting upwards of 11,000 runners Sunday as it winds its way through streets of nine cities, towns and villages.

The 2008 Okinawa Marathon is the best known of the island prefecture’s marathons, offering a grueling, challenging 42.195 kilometer course that takes runners through central Okinawa. The Association of Okinawa Central Local Governments expects the event to be an inter-cultural exchange as well as an international road race. Organizers have also plotted a 10km road race that kicks off one-half hour after the marathon, at 9:30 a.m.

The course works its way through Kadena Air Base, and the Air Force’s 18th Wing will provide support. Runners will enter the base through Gate 2 on Kuter Boulevard, turn left onto Vincent Avenue at Chapel 2, then left on Schreiber Boulevard at Kadena High School, and exit through Gate 5. Gates 2 and 5 will be closed to vehicles from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A public affairs spokesman says pedestrians will still be able to enter both gates Sunday with authorized base passes.

Drivers should expect delays on Kadena, as marathon runners will have priority over vehicle traffic. Officials say pedestrians will be allowed to cross the marathon route at the Main Street Food Court crosswalk, the crosswalk at the USO, and at a temporary crosswalk that will be set up behind the Officers Club to cross Kuter Blvd. Traffic will be controlled by Security Forces.

Okinawa City Mayor Mitsuko Tomon has thanked U.S. Forces in Okinawa for their cooperation with traffic control, and Kenji Miyagi, Executive Director of the Okinawa Marathon Executive Marathon Committee encourages runners to race as fast as possible, “as your powers permit, and let cheering voices be encouraging.” Miyagi adds he hopes spectators—both on and off Kadena Air Base—will enthusiastically cheer the runners on.

The Okinawa Marathon begins at Awase, then carries runners through Takahara, near Koza, to Yonashiro Town, north to Kawata and then Agena Intersection, and on to the midway point near Camp McTureous. The race continues to the northernmost checkpoint at Enobi, then turns southwest through Kariyushien, Chibana and Ikentou 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 to Comprehensive Athletic Park finish line.

Weather conditions for Sunday’s marathon are billed as ideal. Scattered clouds will provide some cover for runners, while temperatures are to reach 64F/18C. Temperatures will vary across the 26.4 mile race route, as elevations vary from flatlands in the first eight kilometers to before moving a bit higher around Yokatsu and Kawata, than to areas more than 10 meters above sea level in the Kadena area.

An awards ceremony for the 10km road race is set for about 10:30 a.m., honoring the top six male and female finishers. A full marathon awards ceremony begins about noon, and a third ceremony in early afternoon will honor top finishers in categories including oldest male and oldest female finishers, and year-group finishers.

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