The 73rd Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, for which we served as the main sponsor, was held on March 4, and I went to cheer on the runners.
This event attracted much attention as it was this fiscal year's final race to qualify for the Marathon Grand Championship (MGC) that would be held to select runners to represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The weather on the day of the event was very fine with little wind. When the race started, the temperature was about 15℃, and it later exceeded 19℃. These conditions were perfect for those watching the race from the sidelines along the course, but seemed a little too warm for the runners.
From our athletics club, Mr. Takuma Kumagai and Mr. Kazuki Muramoto competed in the race. They doggedly kept up with the leading pack at first, but unfortunately they gradually lagged behind as the race went on. However, they kept on striving until the end of the race, and I hope that they will continue to train hard and demonstrate even better performance in the future.
The first place and other high positions were dominated by foreign runners, making me keenly aware that Japanese runners have still a long way to go. However, Mr. Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu), the Japanese top finisher, demonstrated excellent tenacity in the latter half of the race, and managed to qualify to compete in the MGC. To do so, runners needed to finish within 2:11:00, but it was uncertain whether Mr. Nakamura could meet this condition, even when he entered the stadium where the finish line was located. Although he does not belong to our athletics club, I rooted for him despite myself. As in the case of this marathon, the phrase of "Japanese top finisher" is frequently used when a foreign runner wins an event. I hope that Japanese runners will be able to run on a par with the world's top runners in the future.
This was the first time for me to watch a race from close by the finish line in a stadium. While some runners toppled at the finish line, some runners, even though they finished in high places, were dragging their feet after the race, making me realize once again that the marathon is a very demanding sport. In addition, this was again the first time for me to serve as the representative of the main sponsor, for example placing a laurel crown on the head of the winner and attending the award ceremony. Although I was a little nervous at first, everything went well without any trouble, and I was relieved. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to everyone who supported the runners, as well as staff members and all those concerned.