Fri, Jun 01, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Tokyo Games marathon to finish with grueling climb

Reuters, TOKYO

A map shows the marathon course for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Photo: AP / Tokyo 2020

The route for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon was announced yesterday, with the main feature being a steep incline to finish the race at the newly built New National Stadium.

The route is to pass through many of the city’s historic and popular areas, including Tokyo Tower and “Thunder Gate” in Asakusa, as well as the Imperial Palace, the primary residence of the Japanese emperor.

The final stretch promises to be grueling, with athletes finishing on an incline averaging more than 10 percent over 3km leading back to where they started at the Olympic stadium in the city’s west.

Naoko Takahashi, marathon gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said she hoped the course would prove memorable in marathon-mad Japan.

“It is really exciting to imagine just two years from now the side streets along the Tokyo 2020 marathon and race walk route filled with countless fans,” said Takahashi, whose gold-medal winning feat was matched by compatriot Mizuki Noguchi four years later in Athens.

“I look forward to seeing some great performances from the runners, who will be encouraged by those fans lining the route. They will be memorable races,” she added.

The route for the race walk events was also announced and is to take place in the Imperial Palace’s Outer Gardens.

Marathon running is one of the most popular sports in Japan, with more than 1 million people cheering on the athletes at the annual Tokyo Marathon.

The Olympic course largely resembles that of the Tokyo Marathon, one of the world’s most iconic running events, which is held in winter to avoid the city’s punishing summer heat and humidity.

Organizers for the July 24 to Aug. 9, 2020, Games said a start time for the marathon had yet to be decided, but it is expected to be held early in the morning to avoid the worst of the high temperatures.

The last time the Olympics were held in Asia, at Beijing in 2008, the marathon started at 7:30am.

“As far as planning the course, we did not think especially about countermeasures against the heat. However, we are currently discussing how to cope with the high temperatures in general with Olympic management,” Tokyo Olympics spokesman Masa Takaya said.

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