Friday, May 16, 2008

Tokyo Marathon Adds Prize Money to Attract Top Runners

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080515-00000930-san-spo

translated by Brett Larner

Drawing 30,000 runners to the streets of Tokyo, the Tokyo Marathon is set to become the first large race in Japan to offer significant prize money to top-placing elite runners. On May 14 the race`s organizing committee announced tentative plans for the addition of prize money to next year`s Tokyo Marathon in March in order to attract bigger-name overseas athletes and to reward them on a par with IAAF gold-label race standards. The move comes as Tokyo prepares its bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. Final confirmation of the planned changes is expected in June.

Last year the IAAF released a worldwide rating of road races, with 12 major events such as the London and New York marathons receiving the highest label `gold.` The Tokyo Marathon received only a `silver` rating. The IAAF standards for a gold rating include international television broadcast in at least 5 countries as well as both elite men`s and women`s fields. While New York is broadcast in 50 countries, the Tokyo Marathon`s domestic-only broadcast has contributed to low interest levels among international media.

Because Tokyo is a selection race for the Olympics and World Championships, the men`s field to date has included both world-class foreign and domestic athletes. However, the women`s field has not yet included runners of the same caliber. As Tokyo moves forward with preparations for its 2016 Olympic bid, the Tokyo Marathon has recognized the need to bring itself up to the standards necessary to make it a truly top-class international event.

Among IAAF gold-label events, the New York City Marathon offers 1st-place prize money of $130,000, while the London Marathon offers winners $55,000. The Tokyo Marathon intends from now on to offer comparable prize purses.

With 30,000 runners, the Tokyo Marathon is the largest marathon in Asia. 156,000 people applied for this year`s race. Next year running will be the event`s 3rd running. The course offers a tour of many of Tokyo`s noteworthy areas, including Ginza and Asakusa, and is an excellent course for top runners targeting a fast time.

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