Americans, Japanese run until the runnings done during Kintai Marathon
A sea of Americans and Japanese covered the IronWorks Gym parking lot here as athletes stretched and prepped for the 46th annual Kintai Marathon, which started in front of the gym April 14, 2013.
The event provides a unique venue for bringing American and Japanese cultures together to enjoy a common bond of running.
“How many opportunities will (the Japanese) have like this?” said Mai Tajima, Marine Corps Community Services SemperFit recreation specialist. “This is one of the only times Japanese people can come on base and see how we do things and communicate with Americans. I believe the Americans feel the same way, too. They’re having a good time in a different atmosphere than normal and without a supportive base, we couldn’t have done this. With the base support, local community support and our staff, this is a great annual event.”
While the core message of the event was to foster relationships between two cultures, someone still had to come out on top of the race, which consisted of a full marathon, half marathon and five-kilometer walk. For the full marathon, Yoichi Kohno was the first male finisher, clocking in at 2 hours, 32 minutes, 15 seconds. Hiromi Saito pulled in at 3:24:41, making her the first female finisher for the full distance.
The half marathon top finishers for male and female were Hideki Ishizu with 1:13:03 and Leah Daugherty with 1:21:03.
“I’ve been participating in local events, and every time is a practice,” said Ishizu. “I’ve been training for this, but it’s still just practice. I wanted to break the hour and 10 minutes, which is my record. I had a blast, it was really cool getting to see the jets while I ran. I just wanted to thank all the staff who put this together and I really want to come back so I can beat my record.”
Tajima said the turnout for the race totaled more than 1,000 participants.
Tajima also said the race earned approval to have its course travel throughout the entire station, allowing locals a rare treat during their run.
“This is one of my dreams, to be a bridge between Americans and Japanese and I’m proud of what I do,” said Tajima.“I hear all these good words and see happy, smiling faces, and that’s what continues to push me forward. So, I’m going to keep rolling as long as people are smiling.”