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Rikuren Announces 2009 Yokohama International Women's Marathon and a Wide Range of Changes

http://www.47news.jp/CN/200812/CN2008121501000321.html
http://www.asahi.com/sports/spo/TKY200812160248.html
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20081215-OYT1T00389.htm?from=navr

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Dec. 15 Rikuren announced a wide range of changes to its regulations and procedures for the upcoming in the 2009-2010 season. Potentially the largest change is the removal of its ban on the use of a title sponsor's name in the names of large marathons and ekidens and the relaxation of advertising regulations. Elimination of these restrictions will make it easier for races to secure sufficient sponsorship funds.

Another of Rikuren's new policies is the introduction of mandatory drug testing for all athletes setting Japanese national records in sports included in the Olympics. Under previous rules such testing was not obligatory. Rikuren has also modified its financial support system for Japanese runners, reducing the number of C-rank athletes from 68 to 40 but basing support criteria on potential development rather than purely on performance times.

A surprising change included in the announcement is that the 2010 Tokyo Marathon will take place on Feb. 28. The event's first two runnings were both held on the third Sunday of February, but for the upcoming third edition in 2009 the date was changed to March 22. The switch back to February has raised concerns about the Tokyo Marathon's organizational health, but Rikuren officials claimed that the race's date would remain as the fourth Sunday of February for the forseeable future.

Rikuren also announced that with the termination of the Tokyo International Women's Marathon following its 30th edition this past November, the new Yokohama International Women's Marathon will hold its first running on Nov. 15, the same date Tokyo International would have been held.

Lastly, Rikuren revealed that the 2009 National Track and Field Championships, which will double as the official selection event for the 2009 Berlin World Track and Field Championships, will be held June 25-28 at the Hiroshima Koiki Koen Track and Field Grounds in Hiroshima. Officials said they are considering a proposal to open the Championships to include foreign athletes based in Japan.

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