The new version of the race will inherit the history and tradition on which the curtain came down so shockingly last December.
The Fukuoka International Marathon began in Kumamoto in 1947 as the „Kanakuri Prize Asahi Marathon“ in honor of the father of Japanese distance running, Shizo Kanakuri. In its early years it was held in different cities across the country, first coming to Fukuoka in 1951 and settling there for good in 1964. It took the name Fukuoka International Marathon at its 28th running in 1974, and with numerous course changes over the years continued to be held under that name.
Most of the world’s best runners competed there, and in the 1970s and 1980s its high-level races were so exciting that it was known as the best marathon in the world. World Athletics selected the Fukuoka International Marathon to receive its Heritage Plaque, making it effectively a World Heritage Site of the sport. But in March last year it was decided to discontinue the race after its 75th running on Dec. 5 that year, with economic issues and declining interest cited as reasons for the decision.
The news of the cancelation was greeted with widespread shock and dismay. In light of the reaction, the prefectural government and the two athletics federations met to discuss possibilities for bringing the race back. The statement issued today read, „As a result of exploring ways to preserve the history and value of the race, we have created a new race management organization and reached an agreement with the Kyushu Asahi Broadcasting Co., Ltd to handle to brunt of broadcasting duties. Under this arrangement it will be possible to go ahead with the new version of the race.“
JAAF head Mitsugi Ogata said, „I am very happy that we will be able to stage this race in a new form while maintaining its history and tradition.“ Fukuoka governor Seitaro Hattori commented, „This race is one of Fukuoka’s great winter traditions, and by holding it again we hope to help our people feel that things are opening up again after being shut in by the pandemic. We hope that this will bring energy and life to all the citizens of our prefecture and to marathon fans everywhere. We in the prefectural government want to build on Fukuoka’s reputation as a home for sport. We hope to see this race once again be a proving ground that will help produce top-class athletes who will go on to success around the world.“
The race will be held on Dec. 4 this year on the same course as last year. Initial plans call for an elite field of around 100, with organizers expected to apply for JAAF Grade 1 labeling to enable it to continue as part of the Japan Marathon Championship series and play a vital role in selection for national teams and qualification for the MGC Olympic marathon trials.
The organizing group’s statement concluded, „We will aim to hold the race up to the same standard as in the past, but will work to develop both it and the Japanese marathon world further.“
source articles: https://www.rikujyokyogi.co.jp/archives/68233
Brett Larner – Japan Running News