According to Japan Running News, the 2021 Fukuoka International Marathon will be the last running of the 75-year-old event. A source involved with the Japanese Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF) has reportedly said the reasons for discontinuing the event include a loss of sponsors and the high costs of producing the television broadcast.
For many years, the Fukuoka International Marathon has been known as one of the fastest courses in the world, and the men’s elite-only race has produced countless world-class performances during that time. Canada’s Jerome Drayton won the race three times, and in 1975 he completed the course in 2:10:09, which was a Canadian marathon record at the time. It is traditionally held on the first Sunday of December, and some have speculated that the launch of the mass-participation Fukuoka Marathon only four weeks before that day has hurt the elite race’s ability to survive.
The other issue with the elite event is its proximity to Japan’s New Year Ekiden national corporate championships, which take place only one month later. The regional qualifiers for the event are also only one month before the Fukuoka Marathon, and since many of Japan’s elite athletes compete in the Ekiden, the close race dates conflict with their schedules.
The continued growth of larger marathons in other parts of the world has also affected the Fukuoka International Marathon’s relevancy, and in the last several years the race has had difficulty pulling in the same international talent that it once did. Japan’s elite-only circuit has been shrinking over the years, and the Fukuoka International Marathon was the last men’s event left.