translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner
Afraid that the influx of runners and supporters would communicate the foot and mouth disease vector infecting cattle in southern Japan to their local herds, representatives of the Yubetsu Regional Agricultural Cooperative in northern Hokkaido had requested local government officials to cancel this year's 25th anniversary Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon. On June 15 members of the Cooperative reached an agreement with the Kitami, Yubestu and Saroma municipal governments for the race to go ahead as planned on June 27.
In past years supporters and some runners had entered fields alongside the course without permission. Local ranchers are afraid that similar behavior from this year's runners, numbered at 3617, would help transmit the soil-borne foot and mouth disease pathogens. The Kitami municipal government proposed a rigorous plan for preventing inadvertent spread of the disease, including antibiotic sprays on road surfaces, increased course marshalling to prevent participants and supporters from leaving the roadway, restricted cheering areas, and portable toilets moved onto roadways. Yubetsu Agricultural Cooperative leader Yuji Tomozawa agreed to the plan, saying, "We accept their proposal and will not ask again that the race be cancelled. Nevertheless, we remain worried about the possibility of the disease spreading."