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Weather fine for Sunday Okinawa Marathon

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2009-02-21

The daddy of all marathons winds its way across Okinawa Sunday, with an estimated 11,000 runners expected to test themselves on the 42.195 kilometer marathon course or on the 10 kilometer course.

Mother Nature’s promising to cooperate both Saturday, when runners complete registration procedures at Okinawa Prefecture Comprehensive Park, and on Sunday when the 17th annual Okinawa marathon kicks off at 9 a.m. Temperatures of 73F are expected by midday, but forecasters predict overcast and cloudy skies which will make things a little easier on runners.

Noboru Kubooka, who claimed the men’s title in last year’s Okinawa Marathon, is expected to be back to defend his title, while Okinawa’s Mariko Asato, who won the women’s crown, is expected to do the same. Asato won with a time of 2 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds, while Hiroshima-based Kubooka ran the 26-mile course in 2 hours 25 minutes 12 seconds. Of the 7,678 who ran the 2008 race, 81% finished the grueling course.

Some 10,226 runners are registered to be going for the distance, heading north past Awase and Takahara, then east to Yokatsu Junior High School in Yonashiro Town, and again north to Agena Intersection and just past Camp McTureous to the midway point, 21.097 kilometers. From there, the course heads south and west past higher elevation Kariyushien, Chibana and Ikentou, and onto Kadena Air Base.

The Air Force’s 18th Wing will provide support as runners transit the base, entering through Gate 2 and exiting through Gate 5, the 31.2 kilometer point of the run. The two gates will be closed to vehicle traffic from 8:30 a.m. until approximately 3 p.m. The pedestrian gates are expected to be open to those with authorized base passes. Traffic will be delayed, as marathon runners have priority over vehicles Sunday. Traffic will be controlled by Security forces, with route crosswalks established at Main Street Food Court, USO crosswalk, and at a temporary crosswalk behind the Officers’ Club.

From Kadena, the marathon home stretch will bring runners pst yamauchi Junior High School, Kyuyo High School, Yamauchi, Adaniya, Camp Foser and Ishinda. Toguchi Intersection, at the 40.3 kilometer point, will be the final checkpoint of the marathon.

The 10 kilometer race starts at 9:30 a.m., with 2,444 runners traveling from Okinawa Prefecture Comprehensive Park along Route 227, making a turn at the five kilometer point near the Nakagusuku Wharf Gate 3 for the return run to the Park.

The 17th annual Okinawa Marathon is sponsored by the Athletic Sport league of Japan, Okinawa Central Municipality Area Office Association, Ryukyu Shimpo, OTV broadcasting, the Okinawa Track and Field Association, the Okinawa Prefecture Sports Promotion Association, Prefecture Board of Education and the Prefectural High School Gymnastic Union.

An Okinawa nutritionist is offering advice on how to get prepared for Sunday races. Starting today, says Michiko Taba, runners should begin taking pasta, rice or bread in larger quantities than normal, because they accelerate the metabolism and make glycogen absorb easily. She also recommends taking oranges and grapefruit. Friday and Saturday should be more of the same, but only very light food intake on Sunday morning. Taba says to avoid oily foods on Sunday, and to eat at least three hours before the marathon.

No meat should be consumed on race day, says Taba. Bananas and energy drinks are good, but she cautions not to eat too much. Water should be consumed throughout the race. And to top it off, she says don’t eat sweets just before the race; contrary to myths, such foods are not good for sugar levels. After the race, again no meat or oily foods, adds Taba. She says soft foods are best because they’re easy on the stomach.

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