Skip to main content

Notification of the Termination of the Sapporo International Half Marathon

http://www.shsf.jp/half-marathon/55/

translated by Mika Tokairin and edited by Brett Larner

Having brought some of the world's best runners to race in Sapporo for the last 55 years, it has been decided that the 2012 edition of the Sapporo International Half Marathon will be its final running.

The Sapporo International Half Marathon, starting and finishing at Maruyama Field, passing through the streets of downtown Sapporo and Odori Park and turning around at Shiraishi in East Sapporo, is known to be a race that produces good times due both to its course and to favorable weather.  In recent years it has served as a selection race for the Japanese team at the World Half Marathon Championships.  At this year's 55th running on July 1st, a total of 323 runners including both men and women started the race, with a very high 98% finisher rate.

At the 43rd running in 2000, Naoko Takahashi won the women's race as a step toward her gold medal at the Sydney Olympics later that summer.  A year later in 2001 Mizuki Noguchi, who later won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, raced head-to-head against Sydney silver medalist Lidia Simon (Romania), losing by 5 seconds but gaining experience that was crucial toward her Olympic success.

It is very rare to hold a half-marathon in mid-summer in Japan, and in that sense it has been very meaningful to have this race in Sapporo.  However, when the four bodies involved in organizing the race met to discuss the future editions they came to the conclusion that its prospects, both financially and in terms of value to the media, were limited, and it was determined that the best course of action was to cease holding the race.  The proposal to discontinue the race was submitted to the Japanese Federation, one of its advisory bodies, who accepted the decision.

We would like to express our deep gratitude to all the organizations related to the race, including each o the sponsors, the Hokkaido Police Headquarters, the security companies and others.  We hope to continue to contribute to the development of athletics and sports in the future and ask for you continued support.

Translator's note: The Sapporo International Half Marathon was one of the world's greatest half marathon events, with course records of 1:08:14 by Mizuki Noguchi in 2006 and 59:54 by Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) in 2007.  Click here for a complete list of past winners.  In recent years its start time had been pushed back to mid-afternoon to meet the requirements of race broadcaster Nihon TV, and the sudden announcement of the race's termination suggests NTV's complete withdrawal of its support.

The termination of the race after 55 years follows the elimination of the elite field from Sapporo's Hokkaido Marathon this year.  Sapporo International now joins other elite half marathons including the Miyazaki Women's Half Marathon, Kobe Women's Half Marathon and Nagoya Half Marathon to disappear or be incorporated into large mass-participation events.

Comments

Brett Larner said…
Well this is a sad way to end the year.
Sports Channel said…
another great and informative article by Brett Larner, appreciated,

Most-Read This Week

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

Ekiden season is in full swing, and across the country it was another busy weekend. Although there were four major ekidens nationwide, the best action came as runners from high school to the pros tuned up for the string of national championship ekiden races stretching from the end of this month to mid-January. At Kanagawa's Nittai University Time Trials meet, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) pipped 5000 m junior world championships bronze medalist William Malel (Honda) at the line in the 10000 m A-heat, winning in 27:22.73 to Malel's 27:22.79. Four other Kenyans including Ndiku's junior teammate Richard Kimunyan broke 28 minutes as their coaches eye who to run at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden.



Evans Yego of the tiny Sunbelx supermarket team won the more conservative 5000 m A-heat in 13:48.04, a race most notable for high schoolers Luka Musembi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) and Reito Hanzawa (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…