Tokyo Governor Inose and 1.7 Million Sport Fans Celebrate Japan's Passion for Sport at Tokyo Marathon

Enthusiasm for sport in Tokyo reached a new high today as Governor of Tokyo Naoki Inose delighted a massive crowd of some 1.7 million sport fans by serving as the official starter for the Tokyo Marathon 2013, one of the world's great marathons. The sixth and newest race in World Marathon Majors series, the Tokyo Marathon 2013 set new race records by attracting 304,508 applications; in addition, 10,000 volunteers signed up to assist. Seamlessly integrated with the city's commercial, entertainment and residential districts, the Tokyo Marathon 2013 showcased the city's exceptional organisational skills, unparalleled safety and unmatched passion for sport, three of the many strengths underlying Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Games.

The Tokyo Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Race since 2012, from this year also became the newest of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) and the 2013 kickoff race of this annual series. Applications for the Tokyo Marathon 2013 jumped seven per cent from last year; the oversubscription rate was 10.3 per cent, demonstrating once again the Japanese commitment to sport. The nation's passion for marathon is particularly strong due to the success of Japanese marathoners and wheelchair racers over the years.

Tsunekazu Takeda, IOC Member and President of both the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and Tokyo 2020, said: "The Tokyo Marathon celebrates the remarkable power of sport to unite and inspire us all. The Japanese people love sport and are deeply proud of Tokyo's global status as sporting hub. Today is another shining example of the immense joy Tokyo takes in welcoming people from around the world, whether it's for a major marathon or the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Dennis Kimetto (KEN) topped the men's race with a new record of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 50 seconds. In the women's field, Aberu Kebede (ETH) claimed the victory, clocking 2:25:34. The men's wheelchair title went to Masazumi Soejima (JPN), while Wakako Tsuchida (JPN) grabbed her sixth consecutive title in the women's wheelchair marathon.

Two of the many other world-class runners appearing in the race were last year's winner Michael Kipyego and Germany's Irina Mikitenko, winner of the Berlin and London marathons. Elite male and female marathoners participated from around the globe, representing countries such as Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine and Qatar.

The marathon course wound its way through areas defined in the Tokyo 2020 Games plan as the Heritage Zone and Tokyo Bay Zone. The course offered views of Tokyo's remarkably modern and well-organised infrastructure, including Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Sky Tree (634m), Ginza's trendy shopping streets, and time-honoured icons including the Imperial Palace in the heart of town and Asakusa Kaminarimon Gate, site of Tokyo's first temple, said to have been built in 628.

The final stretch took the marathoners to the Tokyo Bay Zone and within view of majestic Rainbow Bridge. They finished at Tokyo Big Sight, Japan's largest convention centre, which will serve as Tokyo 2020's venue for wrestling, powerlifting, fencing, taekwondo, boccia and wheelchair fencing, as well as housing the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre.

A special feature of the Tokyo Marathon was a charity program in which 3,000 runners each donated 100,000 yen (approx. 1,100 USD) or more to ongoing recovery efforts in northeast Japan following the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. A separate fundraising was launched on 15 November 2012, the day that the New York City Marathon, another one of the World Marathon Majors, had to be cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. Donations collected in this programme are being provided for relief efforts through the American Red Cross.
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Marathon starts in front of Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee office inside Tokyo Metropolitan Government building

Image of the event

Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose kicks off the 2013 Tokyo Marathon and cheers the runners