37th Tsukuba Marathon – Sunday November 26, 2017
By Avi Landau
Even in my best years, I could not run long distances. At about the 3 kilometer mark I would always get a pain in my side ( gas pains, they`re called), which made going any further torturous. Now, with those best days LONG gone, I can barely make it up the stairs.
That is why I cannot IMAGINE, for the life of me, why anyone would want to run in a 42.195 km full-marathon, or even in a ten kilometer short marathon. But living in Japan, I have found that there are many- very many, whose ideas about what fun is differ greatly from mine.
Japan is a marathon-mad country! There are not only hundreds of thousands who regularly enjoy running long distances- but millions enjoy watching them on TV, as well- especially Japan`s unique EKI-DEN, marathon relays- and not only the finishes, but the races in their entireties !
Japan has produced numerous world-class marathon runners – both male and female. The first time Japanese representatives ran in an Olympic marathon was at the 1912 Stockholm Games (though the Japanese runner, Shizo Kanaguri – the Japanese “Father of the Marathon”- did not complete the race- he disappeared half-way through- though at the trials he had set a new world record. Interestingly, the first member of a Japanese Olympic team to win a gold medal in the marathon was the Korean Ki-Chung Son at the 1936 Berlin games. At that time Korea was part of Japan ).
Tomorrow, it is our quiet provincial town of Tsukuba which will become the focal-point of Japan`s marathon-mania ( for the 36th year in a row). Approximately 16,000 registered, fee paying runners will converge the city. Traffic will be closed off on certain roads at certain times. Hundreds of volunteers will be busy helping out.
There are many major marathon events in Japan, and Tsukuba Marathon is not anywhere near being the most famous or prestigious
One thing it is remarkable for, however, is the flatness of its course. That, and the agreeable weather we have here in autumn, make for a nice run ( for those who enjpy that sort of thing).
Starting time is 9:30 AM at Tsukuba University`s track and field ground. The fastest male runners should finish in about 2 hours and 16 minutes, and female runners 2 hours 40 minutes.
Go out and join those who cheer the runners on- you`ll be appreciated by those who put so much time and effort into being able to perfom such feats of endurance.