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 Marathon-Crazy Japanese
Submitted by Rickshaw :: Thu Jan 20, 2005 10:37 am
Japan loves its marathon heroes like no other country. While elite marathon racing remains fairly obscure in most Western countries, with champions virtually unknown outside of a small circle of die-hard fans, Japan's marathon stars are national celebrities. IAAF describes Japanese runner Mizuki Noguchi's rapturous reception at home since winning last summer's Olympic womenís marathon. A September parade in her honor drew an incredible 50,000 fans to the streets of her home town. Now that's recognition!

Other honors bestowed on Noguchi since her gold medal victory range from the traditional to the bizarre. To pay tribute to its newest marathon hero, Japan has renamed roads, built monuments, and set her footprint in bronze. One appreciative fan even sent a gift of a whole tuna after learning of Noguchiís love for sushi. For marathoners in the rest of the world who remain obscure in their home countries, it must be difficult to comprehend.

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