A new marathon race run on the same course as the historic Fukuoka International Marathon, which ended after its 75th edition in December last year, will be held in the southwestern Japanese city in December 3, 2022, the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF) said Monday.
The race will have 100 invited elite runners; this is according to race organisers.
The Fukuoka International Marathon was first held in 1947 in nearby Kumamoto Prefecture before moving to Fukuoka in 1959.
Serving as a qualifying event for the Olympics and world championships until the introduction of Japan’s Marathon Grand Championship in 2019, it received a World Athletics heritage award in October 2020 as one of the world’s six oldest races.
Even though it produced world records and a number of memorable races, its popularity and revenue waned over the years.
But strong local support persuaded the JAAF, the Fukuoka prefectural government and local athletics federations to seek ways to stage a new event in a different operating system.
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 ssaid, “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”.
Organizers hope the new race will be part of the Japan Marathon Championship Series, which determines who takes part in the Marathon Grand Championship in the fall of 2023 — the qualifying race for the 2024 Paris Olympics.