November 15, 2016,17:00 +0900(JST) Osaka Marathon 2016
On Sunday, October 30, I attended the 6th Osaka Marathon as chairman of the organizing committee, a position I have served in since the second event. Although the previous day was very windy, race day opened to fine, clear autumn weather, a perfect day for a marathon. At 8:55 a.m. the wheelchair marathon started from the front of Osaka Castle Park, and then at 9:00 a.m. the short course race and full marathon started. Approximately 32,000 athletes began running out into the city of Osaka.
After seeing all of them off at the starting point, I went on ahead to the finish line to welcome them. The first finisher was Mr. Takahiro Ito in the wheelchair marathon with a record of about 1 hour 35 minutes. For the men's full marathon, Mr. Ngandu Benjamin of Kenya became the meet champion for the first time, and for the women, Ms. Yoshiko Sakamoto won her first victory. As seen by Japanese athletes sweeping the podium in the women's race, as well as Japanese runners taking second and third place in the men's race, Japanese racers' excellent showing stood out at this event.
I hear that this year's marathon drew approximately 4,000 runners from abroad, a record high exceeding last year's figure, indicating that the event is becoming more international year by year. Actually, Mr. McDuffee, from one of our group companies in the U.S., won a lottery to gain entry and finished the race successfully.
The Osaka Marathon is supported by many people such as the runners themselves, along with approximately 10,000 volunteers and event-related staff, and more than 1.3 million supporters cheering on the runners along the course. This gives me the feeling that the Osaka Marathon has now become a signature event of Osaka in autumn. As for the charity program, a major characteristic of the meet, over 130 million yen had already been donated even before the event this year. In terms of the charity event, the meet is growing, and I hope that the Osaka Marathon becomes the top runner in social contributions.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for all of your support for all of these things.