translated by Brett Larner
In an effort to make the elite Sendai International Half Marathon into one of the leading races in the country, Sendai municipal officials have announced that in 2012 they will expand the event's scope to include amateur hobby runners while maintaining the overall high level of the existing competition by combining the Sendai International Half Marathon and local Sendai Road Race events. Organizers plan to set a field limit of 10000 for the new race.
The Sendai International Half Marathon office opened Dec. 5. Along with the exisiting federation-registered and wheelchair divisions, a new amateur division will be added along with a children's event to introduce them to running long distances. The new course will be different from the current ones, beginning and ending at the Miyaginoku Municipal Track and Field Grounds and passing by many of Sendai's popular sightseeing spots. With a boom of races like the 35000-runner Tokyo Marathon and 23000-strong Naha Marathon sweeping the country, organizers hope that combining the two events into one will help to attract more people from outside Sendai and that the larger scale of the event will help increase interest participating in sports.
The Sendai International Half Marathon began in 1991. With high-level athletes both domestic and foreign, including Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi having recorded Sendai wins the event has long been one of Japan's most competitive. Last year's running on May 20 saw its largest-ever field, with 1168 finishers. The Sendai Road Race, a 10 km event, takes place each fall. Last year's running on Oct. 31 had a field of 3536.