Japan’s Hokkaido marathon moves online with record 3,000 runners to join

People wear masks as they commute during the morning rush hour Friday in Tokyo. Photo: AP/Kiichiro Sato. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

ABASHIRI, Jul 27, 2020, The Hokkaido Shimbun Press. An annual marathon in Hokkaido, called off this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been moved online and attracted a record 3,000 applicants in a week, its biggest draw since the race started in 2015, Kyodo News reported.

The participants of online version of the Okhotsk Abashiri Marathon 2020 will run 42.195 kilometers in any place at any time between Sept. 14 and 27, using an app called “Tatta” that records their running data with GPS.

The application process opened on July 1, with a total of 3,000 slots available. By the next day, 2,000 people had applied, with the race filling up on the morning of July 8.

Despite the expensive fee of 15,000 yen ($140), applications for two courses that come with horsehair crab or local brand wagyu beef gifts, both local specialties, reached their capacities of 100 in the early morning of July 1.

The total number of the applications was the highest since 2015 when 2,624 runners joined the race. This year, 1,302 out of 3,000 applicants were locals, followed by 285 from Tokyo and 140 from Kanagawa Prefecture.

The increase in applicants is believed to be due to marathons being canceled across Japan.

Finishers of the marathon will receive medals, while everyone is offered the chance to win seafood. “We thought applications would reach capacity by the deadline on July 15, but did not expect it to be this early,” an official said. “We are determined to pump up the event.”

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