I'm not sure I buy the premise of this article. 10-15 years ago we were told that there was tremendous pent-up demand for a "people's marathon" in Japan, but there were no mass-participation races until the Tokyo Marathon was launched. That's why the Honolulu Marathon was sponsored by JAL and had (has) massive Japanese participation. Certainly there's been a massive spike in participation, but is that the release of pent-up demand or was that really just theory and Tokyo is inspiring real new runners?
Amherst grad--In both of the amateur-oriented clubs I coach in Tokyo, one a paid-membership organization, the other sponsored by one of the major makers, the large majority of members are people who had never run or had not run seriously/run a marathon prior to the onset of Tokyo. That's also the case for most of the other paid and maker-sponsored clubs which continue to spring up across Japan. Much of the growth sector of the industry here is geared toward the beginner. It's possible that many of them had always wanted to run, if that's what you are suggesting, but Tokyo was the catalyst that brought them all into the sport in my experience here.--Wesleyan grad
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