Skip to main content

Tokyo-Area Marathon Cancelled Two Days Before Race After Organizers Fail to File Use Permits

translated and edited by Brett Larner
source articles linked at bottom

click photo for video of the purported race representative speaking to entrants who arrived on race morning

The "Tokyo Arakawa Marathon" scheduled for Dec. 21 along the Arakawa River on Tokyo's northern border was cancelled without warning two days before the race after organizers failed to submit road and park use permits and other necessary preparations with either the local Edogawa Ward or national authorities responsible for the park and riverside course.  Organizers had collected 5 million yen [~$42,500 USD] in entry fees from around 1500 people who paid 2000 to 4000 yen each via the popular Runnet online entry system to run in the event's 5 km, 10 km, half marathon and full marathon divisions.

70 entrants who were unaware of the cancellation began arriving at the event's staging ground in Hirai Park ahead of the scheduled 7:30 opening of race day reception.  A 28-year old man claiming to be a representative of the race organizers appeared at the site by himself to explain the situation, saying, "I haven't been able to contact the other people in the organization myself so I'm as much of a bind as any of you, but we'll try to get your entry fees back to you during January."  Many of the entrants raised angry voices in reply, saying, "We don't believe you."  "I've been training hard and spent a lot of money to come here."  "What the hell is this?"  "Are you at least going to pay for our train fare here today?"  The man answered, "Train fares, well....."

Despite the similarity of its name to other more well-known marathons like the Tokyo Arakawa Shimin Marathon and Tokyo Marathon, the Tokyo Arakawa Marathon is not affiliated with those or other events.  On Dec. 18 an entrant contacted the Edogawa Ward office, telling them, "It's just a few days before the race but I haven't heard a single thing from the organizers."  When Ward officials managed to contact the organizing group Reimei [At Dawn] on Dec. 19 they were told that the race "would be cancelled."  According to Reimei staff member Takafumi Sugimoto, 30, this was the group's first time organizing a marathon.  "I was surprised to hear that no use permit applications had been filed.  Very sorry about that."

Organizers posted a notice of the cancellation on the race website along with a request for entrants' bank account details and other personal information to process refunds.  They appear to have also sent emails informing the 1500 people who had entered that the event had been cancelled and that their entry fees would be returned, but the 70 people who arrived on race morning were still unaware.  One 48-year-old man from Katsushika Ward said, "I never got any email.  I didn't hear anything.  And I trained for this day and everything."  Another said, "I came from Niigata today to run.  I took time off work for it and made hotel reservations.  I don't know what I should do.  It's a shock."  A 59-year-old man who travelled from Sakura, Chiba Prefecture was suspicious of the organizers, saying, "I wonder if they're really going to return our entry fees."  Others at the site said, "It looks like they are going to pay us back, but it makes you wonder what the hell were they thinking."  "I had a bad feeling about this, and look what happened."  "They're asking for our personal information to process refunds?  Is that safe?"

According to the man claiming to be a Reimei representative, the organizers identify themselves as an NPO based in Toshima Ward but are a volunteer group without official legal status.  The man said that he lives in Mino, Osaka, and that the group was formed two years ago by three marathon fan friends who knew each other and communicated online and by phone.  The group's address listed on its website is actually a "virtual office" service used to provide a Tokyo-area address, a fact that has raised suspicions about its intentions.

The man said that 1 million yen [~$8500 USD] of the 5 million yen [~$42,500 USD] collected in entry fees had been used to buy tents and other supplies.  "Sorry for any inconvenience.  We want to do our best to get your money back to you."  With regard to the "Arakawa Spring Marathon" the same group is scheduled to hold in March and for which entries have been suspended, the man said, "About 150 people have already signed up, and we definitely want to fill out the necessary use applications this time so we can go ahead with that race." 

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/20141222-OYT1T50031.html
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20141220k0000e040193000c.html
http://news.livedoor.com/article/detail/9600066/
http://cyclestyle.net/article/2014/12/20/17429.html

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
Well, it certainly sounds like a scam. On the other hand, if it was a scam, no one would have showed up.
Anonymous said…
If it is a scam, the "organizer" has some guts to show up on race day...!

-Anna
Really bad, as it will damage trust people have in organizers. As a result, formalities will inevitably increase... pain in the neck. Happy I got my permission for Jan. 24 already - incidentally, on almost the same course!

Most-Read This Week

Kanazawa Marathon to Stop Runners at 21 Locations Due to Election

Due to be held the same day as voting in the upcoming election for the House of Representatives, runners at the Kanazawa Marathon can expect to be stopped at over 20 intersections on the course in order to allow voters on their way to the polls to pass without interference.  Scheduled to be held Oct. 31 after last year's race was canceled, the Kanazawa Marathon will take place while voting polls for the House of Representatives election are open. On race day, road closures for the marathon will be in place for up to 6 hours, but the locations of 14 polling stations on the course mean that voters will need to be able to cross through intersections. 50,000 voters are expected to use these locations, and while city officials are calling for people to utilize early voting or polling stations not affected by road closures then have made the decision to place security personnel at 21 intersections to stop runners when necessary. The Kanazawa Marathon already has this policy in place at

Weekend Overseas Marathon Results

With the Tokyo Marathon having canceled due to guidelines written in the pre-vaccine era some of Japan's top marathoners have had to go overseas this season. Men's national record holder Kengo Suzuki  (Fujitsu) was at Sunday's Chicago Marathon . Suzuki seemed to be staying calm in the lead group, but when the real move came he didn't have the same kind of closing speed he had at March's Lake Biwa Marathon and was left behind by the lead true. Suzuki ended up 4th in 2:08:50, the fastest time by a Japanese outside Japan so far this year. Seifu Tura Abdiwak  (Ethiopia) took 1st in 2:06:12. The next day at the Boston Marathon , Tokyo Paralympics women's gold medalist Misato Michishita  (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) had a quick turnaround to win Boston's first-ever T11/T12 division race. In the elite women's race Shiho Kaneshige  (GRlab Kanto) tailed the lead pack with America Elaina Tabb through the first half of the race according to plan on sub-2:30 pace. But

February's Ome 30 km Road Race Canceled Due to Pandemic

On Oct. 14 the organizers of Tokyo's Ome 30 km Road Race announced that the popular event's 55th running, scheduled for Feb. 20, 2022, will not go ahead and will instead be postponed a year. Organizers said that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic they had concerns about being able to stage the event in a way safe for runners, local residents, race staff and volunteers. The Ome 30 km's 55th running was originally scheduled for February, 2021 but was postponed to 2022, meaning the new decision will in effect be a two-year postponement.  The Ome 30 km Road Race was founded in 1967. Starting in the western Tokyo suburb of Ome, the race follows a mountainous route along the upper Tama River gorge and back. Featuring both 30 km and 10 km races, the race seen wins from Olympic gold medalists like Naoko Takahashi  and Mizuki Noguchi , and is one of Japan's most popular races for amateur runners, with over 12,000 finishers every year. In place of the 2022 event, organizers