KYOTO -- The executive committee of the Kyoto Marathon decided on July 31 to hold the annual event online in 2021, as prospects for an end to the novel coronavirus pandemic remain uncertain.
The running app "Tatta," which utilizes the GPS on users' smartphones and other devices to calculate their running distance and time, will be used to monitor marathon participants' data. The time recorded to run a distance of 42.195 kilometers in a set period will be their records for the race. There are no time limits or set course, and participants can declare they ran a full marathon by adding up distances from each run. The committee plans to charge people to participate, and is also considering giving commemorative medals to those who finish the race.
The committee, consisting of the Kyoto Municipal Government in western Japan, will not limit the number of participants to 16,000 people, like in the past. The organizers will apparently "make efforts to expand the base of marathon runners, including those seeking to overcome a lack of exercise due to the corona pandemic."
The Kyoto Marathon has been held annually since 2012, and the 2021 race will mark its 10th anniversary. Every year, many people attend the three athletic events that are on offer to participants: a marathon, a pair "ekiden" relay and a wheelchair race. The most recent marathon was held on Feb. 16 this year amid the emergence of the coronavirus in China. Participants were required to disinfect their hands, and those from China were asked to refrain from participating, among other preventive measures. About 15,000 people ran the streets of Japan's ancient capital during the race.
The committee decided it would be difficult to hold a normal event while preventing the spread of infections among people including participants, volunteers who take part in operations and spectators who usually watch from the side of roads. The event will be held online, a method used by many other marathon events across Japan.
Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa, who is also the president of the Kyoto Marathon, commented, "We collected knowledge from people involved in the event, and decided to go online. Amid the difficult times we're having with the coronavirus pandemic, we would like to hold a marathon that connects us to the future, and hope it's a success."
(Japanese original by Hiroshi Odanaka, Kyoto Bureau)