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Marathon Behind Japan’s Complete Running Craze

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Feb. 25, 2011
  • Updated Feb. 25, 2011 at 8:38 AM UTC

Running the Tokyo Marathon is now harder than ever.

Not so long ago, running in the Tokyo Marathon was as simple as pretty much paying the entry fee and showing up. This isn’t the case anymore. Running is undergoing unparalleled popularity in the small island nation. This surge is due in part to the Tokyo Marathon. For this year’s race, over 300,000 runners applied for just 30,000 bibs.

“The Tokyo Marathon opened the door to a new kind of running event,” said Tad Hayano, the general secretary and chief operating officer of the Tokyo Marathon Foundation. “Before, lots of Japanese marathons were elite, but after Tokyo started, more people started thinking they could be runners also, so the image of who could be a runner changed.”

Some runners like running store owner Seiji Miura attribute the newfound popularity of the marathon to the fact that the time limit was extended to seven hours.

“That changed the image of the marathon for Japanese, because it made people run with a smile, and everyone could see it’s actually fun and not just an exhausting ordeal,” he noted.

For More: New York Times

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at Competitor.com and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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