After running the Seoul Marathon in South Korea in March 2017, it was clear that Japan would be the next destination. My idea was to run one of the big well-known marathons in Japan - Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagano. The Okinawa Marathon was actually not on my "must run list". However, when I didn't get a seat for the Osaka Marathon in November and the registration deadline for the marathon in December in the nearby city of Nara had also passed, there was still the interesting option of running the Okinawa Marathon on February, 18th during the Chinese New Year Holidays. Interesting, because I could combine this with a subsequent holiday in Japan.
Okinawa is only a 2 1/2 hour flight from Hong Kong (2 hours flight south of Osaka) and has a similar climate as Guangzhou in China. This means that in February it can be over 20 degrees Celsius, while further north in Japan it is still winter.
Actually, I had imagined the training to be relatively simple. After the two marathons in China at the end of November in Dongguan and the beginning of December in Guangzhou, a break from running until the beginning of January (interrupted by the New Year's Eve run) and then some longer runs again. However, I suffered from a knee injury during a longer run in early January, which made running training impossible. Two attempts over 10 and 15 km ended with a pain in the knee that lasted for days.
However, since I didn't want to cancel all the planning (hotel, flights, etc.), I planned to simply run 10 km of the marathon and then drop out - also too not jeopardise my subsequent holiday. The planned 10Km became 42Km after all. When I saw runners walking after 12km, I checked the remaining time and realised that I could stay under the time limit of 6h15min by alternating running and walking. And so it was.
What I noticed:
• In China you see many runners with flags, in Japan this seems not to be usual
• Very active and euphoric spectators, sometimes it was hard to see if drinks or food were offered by the organiser or by private persons
• The timing with a real big antenna and a big tag on the start number looked a bit old-fashioned
• No properly organised clothes drop-off before the start, lockers were mentioned but I didn't see them
• The course is not particularly scenic, it's more the overall atmosphere that makes this marathon worth running for (the route crosses the US Kadena Air base)
• Hardly any porta-potties along the course
• The race info was sent to my private address in Germany. Due to incorrect addressing, the envelope only arrived in Germany when I was already in Japan. It was only in this information that I later read that there were also buses from Naha to Okinawa early in the morning. If I had known that earlier, I wouldn't have had to move to an expensive hotel closer to the start.
For pictures just check the German version of this post.
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