Thursday, September 13, 2012

Marathon to be Cancelled Due to Lack of Tsunami Evacuation Routes

translated by Brett Larner

Held each year in March on the toll roads along the Sagami Bay waterfront in Atami, Shizuoka, the organizers of the Atami Yurakkusu Marathon have announced that next year's 29th running will be cancelled because they "cannot ensure adequate evacuation routes in the event of a tsunami."  Over 3000 runners from around the area take part in the race each year, but due to the inability of organizers to come up with an alternate course it is very likely that the race's cancellation will be permanent.

The Atami Yurakkusu Marathon was first held in 1985, its main draw coming in the chance to run on the 6 km Atami Beach Line toll road in Atami and Kanagawa Prefecture.  In the event that the predicted Great Kanto Earthquake along the Sagami Trough takes place, a 10.5 m-high tsunami is expected to hit the area within 5 to 10 minutes.  In order to ensure runners' safety race organizers sought to establish three escape routes along the marathon course but were only able to find one road capable of handling a large number of people evacuating at once.  As a result, city government officials and others involved in overseeing the race made the determination that "the planned evacuation routes are insufficient."  With regard to next year's race city officials said, "We cannot guarantee the safe evacuation of all runners," making the final decision to cancel the event.

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