Celebrating 25 years and running
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 25th annual Okinawa Marathon kicked off Feb. 19, 2017, and for the 25th year of its existence Kadena Air Base has been here to support.
The Okinawa Marathon was established to help promote fitness throughout Okinawa, as well as build upon international culture and exchange. This year was no different with more than 15,000 runners taking to the road.
This year’s event featured three races: a full marathon, a half marathon, and 10k race for participants from around the world to enjoy. The full marathon route has always gone around the island and includes a stretch through Kadena AB.
“I’ve been racing marathons for 28 years and my favorite race is the Okinawan Marathon,” said Masanao Ishihara, Okinawan veteran marathoner. “For the 25 years that I have run this race, my favorite part has been running through Kadena. Hearing the cheering crowds lining the streets and giving out water gives me a boost to finish the race.”
More than 500 military members and their families living on Okinawa volunteered at stations along the route in the base to handout water and snacks for the weary runners.
“This was my first marathon,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Luis Amaya, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing hospital corpsman. “I was looking for a challenge and I definitely found it. I’m glad all the armed forces and their families cheered me on.”
Amaya said although he’s lived on Okinawa for only 6 months, he feels welcome here and is looking forward to running faster in his second marathon here next year.
“I really appreciate the support and encouragement from the other runners and the volunteers on Kadena,” Amaya said. “I think this is great for community outreach. When Okinawans see foreigners contributing and racing alongside them I think it shows that we really want to be a part of this community.”