Fukushima natives join marathon in Germany, running along Rhine River

6 May 2018

Three teams of people hailing from Fukushima Prefecture participated in a relay event of the 16th Metro Marathon Duesseldorf held in the German city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on April 29. The teams from the Association of Fukushima Prefectural People in North Rhine-Westphalia, comprising four runners each, joined the relay race on the 42.195-kilometer route stretching through streets and areas of lush greenery along the Rhine River. The runners relayed a sash with two Japanese letters denominating “Fukushima,” hand-stitched by association members. Ryuta Mizuuchi, Japanese consul general in Duesseldorf, also joined the relay marathon as an honorary member of the association.

Roadside spectators cheered on the association runners, shouting out “Fukushima ganbare (Hold on, Fukushima)” to throw support behind them as the prefecture is struggling to recover from the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. One of the runners said, “I do want to take part as an association team member again next year and help strengthen bonds among prefectural people.” Association team captain Daisuke Fujiwara (originally from Iwaki city) participated in the full-marathon race.

After the event, association members gathered at a restaurant in Duesseldorf for the 15th association get-together that also served as a convivial post-marathon party. On hand for the occasion to promote friendship were 30 people connected with Fukushima in one way or another, the largest number ever.

The Duesseldorf marathon, known as an international race, drew a total of some 15,000 runners in the full-distance and relay events.

Information on the events was conveyed to Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake local daily, by Minori Yatate , a prefectural government official seconded to the Duesseldorf office of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).

(Translated by Kyodo News)