ArticleCS - Article View

Running since 1993

Running since 1993: Kadena Air Base supports 26th Annual Okinawa Marathon

An Okinawa Marathon runner races towards Kadena Air Base Feb. 18, 2018, at Okinawa, Japan. This year marks the 26th anniversary of the Okinawa Marathon and the 26th year that Kadena AB has supported the race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)

Running since 1993: Kadena Air Base supports 26th Annual Okinawa Marathon

An Okinawa Marathon runner, dressed as an Eisa Dancer, high-fives supporters Feb. 18, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The annual Okinawa Marathon is one of two full marathons in Okinawa, and is the only marathon in Japan to feature a portion of a route on a military installation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Ariman Omari Bernard)

Running since 1993: Kadena Air Base supports 26th Annual Okinawa Marathon

An Okinawa Marathon runner hydrates as supporters cheer them on Feb. 18, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. More than 600 military servicemembers and their families came out to support the marathon runners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)

Running since 1993: Kadena Air Base supports 26th Annual Okinawa Marathon

U.S. Air Force Airman Joshua Stephney, 18th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, encourages marathon runners Feb. 18, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Kadena AB has supported and strengthened relations with the local community through the Okinawa Marathon for the last 26 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Kadena Air Base has a history of supporting community events to strengthen community relations and build upon international friendships. They support the Okinawa International Carnival, host the Kadena Special Olympics, and open their gates to runners during the marathon.

Every year thousands of people train to run the Okinawa marathon. Some train professionally for competition while others practice to stay in shape, and each year Team Kadena is there to support the athletes.

Smiling service members and their families hand out water, fruit and small candy to runners at designated stations along the running path. Others crafted signs and cheered on their favorite runners who dressed in a wide variety of costumes, including popular culture figures, merchandise, food, anime characters and superheroes.

“I think the marathon was cool to see," said Airman 1st Class Thomas Lerner, 18th Security Forces Squadron patrolman. "I’ve been here for a year now and this is my first time seeing the marathon. There were a lot of cool costumes and people were having a great time."

The Okinawa Marathon was established to help promote fitness throughout Okinawa, as well as bring communities together through a common event. This year was no different with more than 15,000 runners taking to the road.

To open the marathon up to more runners, 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 Okinawa Marathon seems to grow larger each year and each year the number of supporters from Team Kadena grows as well. Last year more than 500 volunteers came out to support the marathon, while this year more than 600 showed up in support of the event.

This marathon is more than just a 42-kilometer timed run to the Okinawans and Americans participating in the event. It’s about bringing people together.

“I think that allowing the marathon to run through Kadena is great, it blows my mind to see how many people are running in the marathon,” said Lerner. “Both Okinawans and Americans come together to support this event, build relations, and it allows runners to see our community caring and supporting them in their event, it’s pretty incredible.