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Fukuoka International Marathon set to be held with limited field

The marathon will have a limited field of just 100 runners, and only Japanese citizens and residents will be allowed to race

Organizers of Japan’s Fukuoka International Marathon have announced that their event will go ahead as planned on December 6, although the field size will be cut by 75 per cent. With a regular start list of about 400 runners, this year’s marathon will see just 100 line up to race the streets of Fukuoka, all of whom must be “able to enter and stay in Japan as of September 14.” The Fukuoka International Marathon is a big event on the elite circuit, and Canadians have produced fast times at the race in the past, including Jerome Drayton‘s longstanding national record of 2:10:09 in 1975. 

Canadian Running - Jerome Drayton winner of the 1975 Fukuoka Marathon and set Canadian Marathon record
       Drayton after winning the 1975 Fukuoka Marathon and setting the Canadian record of 2:10:09.

How the race will work

Japan Running News reported that Fukuoka organizers will likely invite 10 men to race their event, and runners who don’t receive invitations will be able to apply for the other 90 spots. To apply for the race, athletes must have run a 2:25 marathon or 1:04 half-marathon since December 1, 2018. Of runners who apply with marathon times, the top 80 will be selected to race. There will be 10 spots reserved for applicants submitting half-marathon times.

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Organizers only recently announced their criteria for the race, including the strict rule that says prospective racers must be in Japan as of Monday if they want to be considered for a spot in the field. This means the event will likely be limited to Japanese citizens or international runners who are already living and training in Japan. 

Starting of marathon race
Start of the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, which is scheduled for March 2021.

Not many races 

Normally a hub for so many fall marathons, Japan’s race schedule from October until the end of the year is almost completely empty. As Japan Running News outlined, of the 29 races that were on the pre-pandemic schedule between October 4 and December 20, only the Fukuoka International Marathon and Hofu Marathon are set to go ahead, and both will be run with limited fields. Twenty-six of the remaining 27 were cancelled, and one was postponed until early 2021. The situation doesn’t improve much in the new year. From January 10 to April 18, there are 24 marathons on the Japanese racing schedule, 11 of which have already been cancelled. Decisions regarding the fates of the other 13 races are still to come. 

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