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115 runners stung by hornets during half marathon in Gifu Pref.

A hornets' nest found under Utsubo Bridge is seen in Hida, Gifu Prefecture, on Sept. 11, 2016. (Photo courtesy of the Hida Municipal Board of Education)

HIDA, Gifu -- Some 115 runners were stung by Japanese hornets here during a half marathon on Sept. 11, apparently after vibrations from the athletes crossing a bridge agitated the insects.

    Runners in the 18th "Yama no Mura Daikon Marathon Taikai" (Mountain village Japanese radish marathon meet), started getting stung as they crossed Utsubo Bridge 7 kilometers into the race. A nest of Japanese hornets was found under the bridge girder, and it is thought that vibrations from the large group of people simultaneously crossing the bridge may have stirred up the nest.

    According to the city board of education, there were no serious cases among those stung, who ranged in age from 17 to 70. Some of the runners received ice for their stings and other first aid at the race headquarters, and eight people were seen at a city hospital, but no one was hospitalized.

    The 21.0975-kilometer-long half marathon began at 9:30 a.m. with 697 runners taking part, 631 of whom completed the event. Some 30 to 40 people are thought to have quit after being stung.

    Races over 10 kilometers, 5 kilometers and 3 kilometers were also held, with a total of 1,539 runners taking part overall. The 14-meter-long Utsubo Bridge was crossed only by runners in the half marathon.

    A representative of the board of education's lifelong education department, which served as the secretariat for the races, commented, "We didn't notice the hornets' nest during a test run the day before. Next year, we want to carefully check for hornets' nests before the meet. We want to send letters of consolation to those who were stung."

    The popular races involve running through highlands, and reward participants with locally grown Japanese radishes and spinach.

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