translated and edited by Brett Larner
Out of fears of the foot and mouth disease which has broken among livestock on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu reaching their local stocks, local residents and agricultural corporation representatives asked town officials in Yubetsu on the northernmost island of Hokkaido on June 10 to cancel the 25th anniversary Lake Saroma 100 km ultramarathon. 3617 runners from across the nation are entered to compete in the event which is scheduled for June 27. Local official Yuji Tomozawa commented, "We've had more and more calls every day from local ranchers and residents asking that the race be cancelled," in explaining the request for the event's cancellation.
Although half the 100 km course is within the municipality of Yubetsu, it also passes through the towns of Kitami and Saroma. A number of cattle ranches and barns are located along the route. Local agricultural cooperative official Naohito Noda told reporters, "We are asking for the race to be cancelled out of concern for farmers in the rest of the country. With so many runners coming here, if there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease while they were here we are afraid they would spread it across the country."
In response to the request, Yubestu General Committee executive Masahiro Kato commented, "I would like to discuss this with my counterparts in Kitami and Saroma. Kitami mayor Tsuneki Kotani made a statement on June 10, saying, "Since the race course is officially certified we cannot change it. I would like to cooperate with the involved municipalities." Officials are examining the possibility of relocating portable toilet facilities onto the roadway so that runners would not need to walk upon local soil as well as the feasibility of covering road surfaces with a disinfectant material.
Translator's note: Last month's Oda Memorial T&F Meet and this month's Ironman Japan triathlon, both located in Kyushu, were both cancelled out of fears of competitors bringing infected soil to the race area on their shoes. Lake Saroma would be the third major event to be cancelled, along with a number of smaller, amateur-level races. The upcoming Sapporo International Half Marathon and Hokuren Distance Challenge series of meets may also be in jeopardy of cancellation.