SAGAMI GENERAL DEPOT, JAPAN – About 7,000 people attended an open running event and festival here on October 2.
This was the first such event at the warehouse since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Colonel Christopher L. “This was simply a great way to boost fitness, to celebrate our bilateral partnerships, and to provide a great opportunity to come together for food, fun and entertainment.”
The U.S. Army Garrison, Family, Moral, Welfare and Recreation Department officials in Japan combined with the Kanagawa Running Association to offer a 13.1-mile half marathon to start the day, followed by a 16-kilometre (9.9 mi) “ekiden,” or relay, in the afternoon.
Contestants were required to pre-register for the races, but the garrison also opened the gates to the general public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to offer food, musical performances, children’s games, and other activities. About 2,400 runners were registered for the half marathon, while about 1,200 were registered for the relay.
Trojan cadets from the Trojan Battalion at Zama Preparatory Preparatory High School opened the event early in the morning with a colorful military guard ceremony, parading the American and Japanese flags on stage before the national anthem was played.
USAG Japan Command Sgt. Major Justin Turner welcomed the runners during the opening ceremony, emphasizing that the number one goal was safety.
Turner, along with Deputy Garrison Commander Jennifer Peterson, DFMWWR Director Rick Bush, and MWR Employee Rintaro Sato also represented Garrison in the relay race.
“This is my first open running event, and I have been amazed by the turnout, sport, and enthusiasm from our guests,” Turner said. “We had people up front setting a fast pace that I wouldn’t like to keep up, people in costumes, and a lot of jogging clubs. The only thing I can say for sure is that everyone seemed to have a great time.”
garrison personnel from the Directorate of Emergency Services; Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; The Office of Stabilization Safety worked closely with US Army Medical Activity Japan Paramedics and Japanese First Responders from Ongoing Federation and Sagamihara City to ensure the safety of all attendees.
Visitors also flock to the fall festival activities, dance to different bands, enjoy the food, and even just lay the lawn in the sun to recover from the races.
“I am so proud of the entire team and the hard work that went into planning, preparing, and hosting this event,” Tomlinson said.