Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tokyo Marathon 2012 kicks off to a good start with giant balloons in five colors adorning the sky

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Giant balloons in five colors went up to the sky on February 26(Japan time) at the starting point of  Tokyo Marathon 2012. As one of the largest marathons in Asia and now in its sixth year, Tokyo Marathon rivals the world marathon majors held in London, New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Berlin. 

Last year, the massive earthquake and tsunami shook Eastern Japan only 12 days after Tokyo Marathon 2011, throwing Tokyo and the entire nation into deep sorrow and despair. Now, the reconstruction efforts are underway at a remarkable speed, which owes much to the well-wishes, prayers and assistance from around the world combined with the innate optimism of the Japanese people.
People here awaited this year's Tokyo Marathon with great enthusiasm.
 Tokyo Marathon has steadily grown in popularity over the years. Its office received a record-number of applications for this year's marathon, and the race for the much-coveted slots in the general runner category was very intense -- only one out of 9.6 people who applied for the general runners' category obtained the privilege of enjoying the city by zipping through its main streets and landmarks. A new trend was a 2.4-fold jump from the last year in the number of charity runners who donate 100 thousand yen or more – the well-wishers who wanted to run the race to cheer and aid the quake and tsunami-affected people. Conscious efforts to re-energize and uplift the country through sports events are undoubtedly on the rise nationwide after the quake, as evidenced by the launch of city marathons by other major Japanese cities including Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and Nagoya. 

The giant balloons in five colors that adorned Tokyo's sky today were the embodiment of the people's belief in the power of sports and their desire to host world-class sports games in Tokyo in 2020 in order to triumph over the difficult times.

Race results are as follows: Michael Kipyego of Kenya won the race (2:7:38), Second place went to Arata Fujiwara of Japan, who had a respectable time of 2:7:48: Japan's seventh fastest marathon record to become the first Japanese to break the 2:08:00 mark in five years. The former world-record holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia finished fourth, while Yuki Kawauchi, a full-time municipal government employee and citizen runner who was closest to reach the top league, was ranked fourteenth. The Tokyo Marathon 2012, one of Asia's largest marathon races was a great success, attracting a total of 36,407 runners from all over the world.  

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