translated and edited by Brett Larner
The organizers of the Osaka International Women's Marathon have announced that in its 30th edition, scheduled for Jan. 30, 2011, the race will for the first time in 20 years feature a new course designed to facilitate faster times. Gone is the race's most distinctive feature, the hilly, twisting middle section through Osaka Castle. In its place the marathon will now cover a longer distance on Osaka's flat major roads, allowing for more crowd support throughout the race.
1984 Los Angeles Olympic marathoner Akemi Masuda commented, "With the elimination of the hilliest sections the Osaka course is now one where we can expect to see extremely fast times." Considering that the old course was already the site of the fastest women's marathon ever run on Japanese soil, 2:21:18, the new course looks set to become one of the fastest in the world.
The Osaka Half Marathon, run concurrently with the Women's Marathon, will also feature a new course starting at Osaka Castle and finishing at the same location as the marathon, Nagai Stadium. Both races will start simultaneously at 12:10 p.m., allowing half marathoners to cheer the top marathoners on as they run and again at the finish line.
Translator's note: Click here to see a Google Maps rendition of the new course. Like the Biwako and Beppu-Oita marathons, this move is surely one to ensure the race stays relevant as Japan slowly shifts to a mass marathon model. The situation is especially dire in Osaka's case as the mass-participation Osaka Marathon is set to begin next fall.