The sixth edition of the Nagano Marathon will take place on Sunday 11 April.
The Nagano Marathon was inaugurated in 1999 to commemorate the 1998 Nagano
Winter Olympic Games. This new marathon replaced the old Shinmai Marathon,
which was run in Nagano since 1958. For the first five editions, from 1999 to
2003, the course was point to point with severe downhill at the start of the
The course, which toured the facilities used during the Winter Olympics,
loses 120m of elevation in the first 5km, before losing 200m of elevation over
the entire distance. Thus, for example, in the first edition of the race the
5km split was incredible 14:19. The initial steep downhill does not help the
runners, however, because they tend to run too fast initially and pay it later
in the race.
To correct the problem the course was modified for this year’s race.
The new course still finishes in the Nagano Olympic Main stadium but it starts
at the Nagano Sports Park and is essentially flat.
Although the men’s course record is 2:10:17 by Eric Wainaina, two-time
Olympic medallist, and the women’s course record is 2:24:55 by Elfenesh
Alemu, these are exceptional times considering the difficulties of the Nagano
marathon. It will be very interesting to see how the new flat course will
affect the performances.
Most of the international marathons in Japan (e.g. Fukuoka Marathon or Osaka
Ladies Marathon) are for elite runners with tough qualifying standards.
However, the Nagano Marathon is different. Approximately 5000 non-elite runners
will be taking part along with three former Olympic Champions: Josiah Thugwane,
Fatuma Roba, and Valentina Yegorova.