Skip to main content

Monument Honoring Japan's First Women's Marathon Unveiled

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/running/news/20140322-OYT8T00326.htm?cx_thumbnail=01

translated by Brett Larner

The winner of Japan's first women's marathon and other dignitaries took part in a ceremony at Lake Tama in Higashiyamato, Tokyo on Mar. 21 unveiling a monument commemorating the race held at the site 36 years ago.  According to city officials, the first women-only full marathon, the "First National Women's Turtle Marathon Race" took place in April, 1978, sponsored by the Japan Turtle Association.  On a course covering three laps around the banks of Lake Tama, 49 women started the race, the oldest among them 71 years old.  46 finished.

The Higashiyamato city government planned the monument in connection with its sports promotion and local revitalization initiatives.  Including the base the monument measures 1.8 m tall, with a width of 0.5 m.  According to Musashino Art University lecturer Yasuyuki Nishio, 47, tying the monument's design to its location overlooking Lake Tama, which forms a vital water supply for Tokyo residents, the monument depicts an undine, a mystical female water spirit.  The design was selected by local citizens from among a group of finalists.

Taking part in the ceremony was Ichiko Hokazono, 73, winner of the first race in 3:10:48. "I can see my memories of running hard through the dancing cherry blossoms again as though watching them projected from a lantern," she said with a smile.  "In those days I was always happy just to run."  Mayor Yasuo Ozaki told attendees, "Together with Lake Tama, ever-changing and always beautiful throughout the four seasons, I hope that this monument will become the new symbol of Higashiyamato."

Also in attendance at the ceremony was 1991 Tokyo World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita, whose Daiichi Seimei women's corporate team took part in the 24th running of the Lake Tama Ekiden following the ceremony.  A record 433 four-person teams took part in the ekiden, with more than 1700 people battling strong winds around the lake.  Yusuke Kodama, 27, anchor of the winning Comodity Ida corporate team, commented, "There were a lot of quick ups and downs, but it felt good to run surrounded by the abundant nature and I drew strength from that to push hard to the end."

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Japanese National Track and Field Championships Preview

The 101st edition of Japan's National Track and Field Championships takes place Friday through Sunday at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai. It's a strange time in some ways. Despite the overall upward trend spurred on by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the count of athletes who might make the London World Championships off their performances at Nationals is low. The marathon, walks, combined events and relays aside, based on current qualifying times only the men's 100 m, women's 5000 m and women's 10000 m could field full three-member squads, and not many events look set to join that list. The progress over the last few years in men's distance on the track seems to have stalled, with nobody qualified for London in the 5000 m and the only man qualified in the 10000 m already a scratch. Is it a just a hiccup or a sign of problems in the buildup to 2020?

Visit the JAAF's National Track and Field Championships website for entry and start lists, live results, photos an…

New Balance Nationals and Record-Breaking Times Nationwide at Japanese High School Regionals

The New Balance Nationals Outdoor was the weekend's big high school meet in the U.S.A., but from Thursday through Monday regions across Japan also held their qualifying meets for the July 29 - Aug. 2 National High School Track and Field Championships in Yamagata. Performances were at a high level across the board, with at least eight meet records nationwide in distance events.

Five girls broke 4:20 in the 1500 m, with Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) leading the way with a 4:09.67 meet record to win the Tohoku Region. Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) was the fastest Japanese girl, winning the Kinki Region title in 4:18.32. On the boys' side, four broke 3:50 in the 1500 m, three of them in the Kinki Region meet. Yusuke Takahashi (Hyogo H.S.) took the Kinki title in 3:46.86.



In the girls' 3000 m, five girls including both Ekarare and Tanaka were under 9:05 nationwide. Ekarare and Tanaka both doubled with 3000 m wins, but the fastest time came from Tabitha Kamau (Kamimu…

Ageo City Half Marathon Leads Weekend Action - Preview

by Brett Larner

Rainy weather lies ahead for a busy weekend of racing across the country.  Track is a part of the calender from April through December, and this weekend features several large time trial meets including the Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials Meet and, closer to Tokyo, the Nittai University Time Trials Meet.  Men's 5000 m is the focus at Nittai with 37 separate heats in one day, the fastest heat led by 12 Japan-based Africans including Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.) and Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta).

The main action this weekend, however, happens on the roads, and there's no question that the Ageo City Half Marathon is the main event.  Ageo, the race that university coaches use to thin their rosters ahead of deciding their lineups for January's Hakone Ekiden, is one of two Japanese half marathons vying for the title of world's greatest half, locked in a duel with March's National University Half Marathon to produce the d…