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13. “Hopes for the Fukuoka Marathon—a Runner’s Perspective”





[January 15, 2016] Fukuoka Growth 2015-2016 GlobalCityStatus リレーコラム View this post in pdf pdficon_small (1.06MB, Japanese)

Column 13. Hopes for the Fukuoka Marathon—a Runner’s Perspective

(by Keisuke NATSUI, Senior Researcher)
On November 8, 2015, I took part in the 2015 Fukuoka Marathon.
Having been established two years earlier, this was the second time the new event was held. Because I did not win a slot for the first Fukuoka Marathon, this was the first time I ran in it. Up until three years ago, I would never have thought of doing something like taking part in a full marathon, but I now actively sign up for amateur marathons in major cities. With this in mind, I would like to look at the Fukuoka Marathon from a runner’s perspective.
Spate of new amateur marathons
The Fukuoka Marathon is held in November, which falls in the full marathon season that extends from fall through the beginning of spring. The Fukuoka Marathon, one of the new marathons, has only been held twice, and numerous major, amateur marathons, such as the Okayama Marathon, Kanazawa Marathon, Toyama Marathon, and Saitama International Marathon, were newly created in 2015.
According to statistics compiled by R-bies Inc., which publishes the monthly Runners magazine, the number of marathons with Japan Association of Athletic Federations approved courses grew from 49 in 2004 to 72 in 2014. In particular, the number has more than doubled since 2007, the first year of the Tokyo Marathon.
Growing number of runners
According to the Report on Sports Runner Survey released by Sasakawa Sports Foundation, it is estimated that 5.50 million adults jog or run at least once a week, which is based on the 2014 survey. The first Tokyo Marathon was held in 2008, which triggered the marathon boom, and since then there has been an overall upward trend in the number of people who regularly jog or run. Using the Tokyo Marathon as a case study of a successful new marathon, many marathons moved their courses, which had mainly been located in the suburbs, to urban settings, and the courses wind through well-known entertainment districts and city centers, areas people normally could not run through, and this probably attracts numerous amateur runners. Furthermore, it is said that areas that create amateur marathons see sudden growth in the number of runners in the area. It appears that people who have never run a marathon view the local event as an opportunity and start running regularly with the goal of being able to complete the marathon. A growing number of marathons set aside priority slots for local runners in the drawing for running slots, and this probably further spurs on growth in the number of local runners (For the Fukuoka Marathon, of the 10,000 slots, 2,000 are priority slots for residents of Fukuoka and Itoshima City).
Incidentally, the reason I started to regularly run was because at a drinking session with high school classmates three years ago, we started to talk about maintaining our health, and there was a surprisingly large number of former classmates who ran regularly or had tried to run regularly but had given up, and this lead to the proposal “let’s all run in a race, which will motive us and get us to practice,” a bold type of proposal typical of people who have been drinking. Until then, I had occasionally started running out of concern of the increase in my weight due to my normal indifference to health maintenance, but the running never lasted long and I never applied for a spot in a marathon. On account of this alcohol-fueled promise, I started training and initially took part in and completed a 10-km event. After that, I gradually moved up to a half marathon and then full marathon. When I first ran in a 10-km race, my goal seemed far off, but I now regularly run 10 km or more.
Marathons for comparative evaluation
It is said that a growing number of newly created amateur marathons are operated and planned like existing marathons. Once a decision is made to hold a marathon, it takes a long time to make the necessary preparations, and during that time, the responsible parties are likely to inspect and participate in marathons that are already popular, such as the Tokyo Marathon, and use those marathons as examples. It is, therefore, probably inevitable that marathons are similar as the good points of highly rated marathons are incorporated into new marathons. RUNNET, an Internet portal site operated by R-bies discussed above, has not only various useful functions for amateur runners, such as applications for major amateur marathons throughout Japan, but also an Event Report section, in which runners rate marathons they have actually participated in on a 100-point scale. Runners evaluate twenty-four items, including information, venue, start/course/finish, records/awards, and overall impression. Because this can be called grading from a runner’s perspective, it is important reference data for marathon sponsors.
Well, let’s take a look at Fukuoka Marathon’s relative position based on this evaluation. The following table gives the evaluations of newly created marathons, ones in cities close to Fukuoka, and the Tokyo Marathon (the benchmark) for the past three years.
Looking at the evaluation (which is continually updated) for the Fukuoka Marathon, the initial one in 2014 received a score of 67.2 but the score for the 2015 one rose substantially to 86.7 (as of December 18, 2015). The host’s efforts to improve the operation of the marathon resulted in a dramatic increase. Because many major marathons score in the 90s, however, it can probably be argued that there is room for further improvements. Looking at the score for individual items on the RUNNET website, there is room for improvement in terms of “water supply before the start,” “easy-to-see precise distance indicators,” “participation prizes,” “cost performance,” and “participation in the next marathon.”
The Fukuoka Marathon, which was newly created the year before last, is a popular marathon with an applicant/opening ratio of 4.3. Even in Japan, there are few major marathons with an applicant/opening ratio of 4 or greater—ones that do include Tokyo (11.3 in 2016), Osaka (4.5 in 2015), Kobe (4.3 in 2015), and Kyoto (4.3 in 2016). As Fukuoka is a compact city, the marathon provides a unique appeal of an extremely varied course that starts in Kyushu’s top entertainment area Tenjin and then moves through city areas to ones rich with nature. For runners from other prefectures, taking part in the marathon also has the appeal of a travel.
On account of the spate of newly created amateur marathons, however, new problems have arisen, such as winning applicants who apply for multiple marathons dropping out because the dates of the marathons overlap or are too close to each other. It is now easy to apply for multiple marathons and obtain information on the various marathons thanks to the Internet, and it can probably be argued that as runners more carefully select marathons they run in, unappealing marathons will be winnowed out. In order for the Fukuoka Marathon to grow into a more attractive one, it is probably necessary to closely listen to the opinion of runners, such as those found in the runners’ reports discussed previously.
As a local runner who has taken part in the Fukuoka Marathon, I have written this report with the fervent hope that it grows better and better.

13. 福岡マラソンへの期待

テキスト:主任研究員 夏井 圭介
fggcs2015_13_photo01_tmb2015年11月8日(日) 福岡マラソン2015に出場しました。













Image is for illustration purposes only. (Photos are taken in Tokyo and Fukuoka City)
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