January is one of the coldest months of the year for semi-tropical Ishigakijima, one of Japan’s southernmost islands close to Taiwan. It is also the best time to visit as pink cherry blossoms begin to bloom, strikingly beautiful against the green landscape and blue coast.
Views on Land – Ishigaki Island Marathon
On Sunday, 24 January 2016, the 14th Ishigaki Island Marathon will continue its annual springtime tradition of sharing these scenic courses with avid runners. Certified by the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF) rules, the event features full marathon, 24 km and 10 km distances.
The starting venue will be outside Ishigaki Central Sports Park Athletics Stadium, where runners will set off from 9:00 a.m. Full and half marathoners will trace the southwestern coast of the island before turning eastwards to panoramic views of fields, vast landscapes and mountain ranges. On their left, runners will see the Omoto Mountain Range stretched from east to west of the island. Part of this range is Mount Omoto, the tallest peak in Okinawa Prefecture.
As the course splits just after the 16 km mark, 24 km runners will pass by Banna Park. A beautiful nature reserve, it is worth visiting for its nature trails, observation towers, adventure playground, and the diversity and abundance of butterflies in the Forest Passeo Square.
Full marathoners will run up to Painushima Ishigaki Airport before heading south back towards the start point. To end off the races, all runners will finish with a lap around Ishigaki Central Sports Park Athletics Stadium, where crowds are expected to cheer them on.
All runners who finish within the time limit will receive a commemorative finisher’s medal and certificate.
Sights Under the Sea
Yes, we’re RunSociety, not SwimSociety but you wouldn’t want to miss this underwater spectacle! Besides its annual spring marathon, visitors should visit Ishigaki Island for Shiraho, one of the world’s leading coral communities.
You get to admire the corals in various hues of blue, yellow, green and brown up-close while staying dry too. Simply board a glass boat at Kabira Bay, a scenic sightseeing spot awarded the highest three-star rank by Michelin Green Guide Japan. While you’re there, why not snorkel at Sukuji Beach near Kabira Bay, or Yonehara Beach which is covered in pieces of white coral?
Japan is made up of thousands of islands and Ishigaki is just one of them. Comment below if you want to know more island marathons in Japan!