Monday, February 23, 2009

Volunteering for the Okinawa Marathon

In an attempt to stay busy while Chris is away I answered a call for volunteers for the Okinawa Marathon that I saw in a base paper a few weeks ago. The Okinawa Marathon is the only marathon in Japan that runs partly through a military base - apparently this is a big deal. There are a couple big marathons on Okinawa and this one is considered the toughest. By the time the runners reached us they were about 18.5 miles into their 26.2 mile goal. Even though it is only February it was already shorts weather for the spectators; it was probably in the mid-70s by the time the runners reached us. Luckily for the runners, the humidity didn't really crank up on the island until the following day.
I'm not sure if these 2 wound up winning, but they both had a big lead when they passed us at the 30km point. I've spectated at marathons before and I've got to say these runners looked even tinier than folks I've seen at other races. The leading lady was especially small. I swear I could fold her up and put her in my pocket.
All of the Japanese people seemed really happy to have us cheering them on. I think it was a very nice goodwill/relationship building effort. My favorite part was when we would get a line of people high-fiving us. A lot of the people would say thank you or arrigato for every person whose hand they hit. The little Japanese women would barely touch your hand, but they would seem so excited about it. Some of the ladies would even do a little head bow as they high-fived you. Here's a little video clip of the high fives:

I was out there for about 4 hours - until the sweep car came through. I've got to tell you I was pretty tired after that. It was pathetic - here are people running 26.2 miles and I'm getting tired just cheering them on. I did make a stand though and when other volunteers opted to sit and cheer I stood the whole time. It really seemed like the least I could do. It's hard to believe that just 8 months ago I ran the Edinburgh Marathon. Man, can you get out of shape fast! However, the ladies running club that I've mentioned in earlier blogs is getting back together to train for 10 weeks for a half marathon. Sounds like fun!

1 comment:

Mandy said...

This sounds like real fun. They were lucky to have you cheering. It really helped me when I did Luton to know that you were just round the corner.

Love Mandy