Chapter

A Galaxy of Distance Runners

Thomas R. H. Havens

in Marathon Japan

Published by University of Hawaii Press

Published in print February 2015 | ISBN: 9780824841010
Published online November 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780824869083
A Galaxy of Distance Runners

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Corporate and university track teams revived distance racing shortly after Japan’s surrender in 1945. Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri sponsored marathons starting with Osaka in 1946 (moved to Lake Biwa in 1962). Soon major races began at Beppu-Ōita and Fukuoka, the latter considered the informal world’s championship after 1966. Japanese men performed brilliantly at the Boston Marathon throughout the 1950s, a decade when ekiden relays proliferated throughout Japan for male schoolchildren, university students, corporate athletes, and general citizens. Tsuburaya Kōkichi became the first Japan-born runner to win an Olympic marathon medal with his third-place finish at Tokyo in 1964. Kimihara Kenji, the silver medalist at Mexico City in 1968, was the greatest of Japan’s many star runners in the 1960s.

Keywords: Japan; athletics; marathon; ekiden; Asahi; Mainichi; Yomiuri; Lake Biwa; Beppu-Ōita; Fukuoka; Tsuburaya Kōkichi; Kimihara Kenji

Chapter.  8532 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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