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

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

Kibet Runs 10000 m World Lead in Kobe, a 3:44.86 High Schooler and More - Weekend Track Roundup

After giving World XC a miss, Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko) got his outdoor season off to a good start with a 13:33.70 PB for 5th at California's Mt. SAC Relays. His teammate Yuki Nakamura ran only 14:34.97, while the U.S.-based Takeshi Okada (UC Berkeley) ran 9:02.75 for 12th in the 3000 mSC. Toyota Jidoshokki teammates Momoka Kawaguchi and Nao Yamamoto ran the women's 5000 m, Kawaguchi the faster of the two at 15:54.82.

Back home, Bernard Kibet (Kyudenko) ran an early season world-leading time of 27:36.24 to win the Hyogo Relay Carnival Grand Prix men's 10000 m, beating the 27:43.34 by Macharia Ndirangu (Aichi Seiko) a day earlier in Hyogo's Asics Challenge men's 10000 m, at the time also a world-leader. Kibet's teammate Shohei Otsuka was the fastest Japanese man of the weekend at 28:25.42 in the Asics Challenge race.

Women's Grand Prix 10000 m winner Rosemary Monica Wanjiru (Starts) came up short of a world-leading time but was just a few seconds off t…

Kiprop and Hunde Win Nagano Marathon

Ugandan Jackson Kiprop and Ethiopian Meskerem Hunde won Sunday's 21st edition of the Nagano Marathon. Running a steady and well-paced race that went out near 2:10:30 pace and sped up slightly to a 1:04:58 halfway split, Kiprop wore down the competition until there were only four left at 30 km. Ethiopian Deresa Geleta stayed with him until the very end, but Kiprop had the finish in him to open 3 seconds on Geleta to become Nagano's first-ever Ugandan winner in 2:10:39.

Geleta's 2:10:42 was good for a PB, with Japan's Naoya Sakuda (JR Higashi Nihon) also dropping a big PB of 2:11:21 for 3rd over Kenyan Alfred Kering. #1-ranked Asuka Tanaka (Hiramatsu Byoin) was one of the first to drop off Kiprop's early pace but rallied late in the race to take 5th in 2:14:35, his best performance since a stress fracture following his breakthrough in Tokyo last year.

Hunde pulled off an equally evenly-paced run to win the women's race, projected to run 2:33:44 after 5 km and en…