Ageo City Half Marathon Canceled - AGU Coach Hara Calls for "Medical Worker Support Half Marathon" Instead
On June 2, the organizers of the Nov. 15 Ageo City Half Marathon announced that this year's race has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Every year Ageo attracts hundreds of collegiate runners hoping to impress their coaches over the distance and have a chance of making their Hakone Ekiden dreams come true. Marathon national record holder Suguru Osako showed his talent there in 2010, winning Ageo his first year at Waseda University in a still-standing Asian junior record 1:01:47. Since the 2011 race, every year the top two Japanese collegiate finishers have been invited to run March's NYC Half Marathon. This year Ageo was certified by World Athletics as a world-class event, but its cancelation means that a key part of the fall season has been lost.
Susumu Hara, the outspoken head coach of this year's Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University, was quick to take to Twitter to comment. "One of the most important fall university races, the Ageo Half, is canceled!" he wrote. "It's not indoors, it doesn't have people in close proximity for an extended period, and it doesn't involve them talking at close range. Was there really no way the organizers could have put it on? Our young people have lost an opportunity to try to fulfill their dreams. That's a tragedy. They should hold the race, double the entry fee and donate the entire amount. Call it the 'Medical Staff Support Half Marathon.' The kids will inspire our medical workers with their brave-hearted running, and the medical workers will get financial support at the same time. Why not try to make a race where it's a win-win for everybody?"
Translator's note: Aoyama Gakuin University has never taken part in the Ageo City Half Marathon, instead running the Setagaya 246 Half Marathon every year.
translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo © 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved