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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Registration opened Monday for this fall’s 35th Services Squadron’s half-marathon, a prelude to a full marathon to be staged next spring.

The 13.1-mile course winds both on and off base. Base residents, Japanese nationals, foreigners living in Japan — anyone can participate, marking the first time the base has opened its gates for a sporting competition in more than five years, base officials said.

“[Brig.] Gen. Angelella asked us to take this on,” said 35th Services Squadron Commander Maj. Tim Sites. “His words were a ‘world class marathon.’”

That was back in March. Without enough time to plan a “premier event,” Sites said, the plan was adjusted to holding a half-marathon Oct. 8 and shooting for a marathon next spring, sometime after the base’s March Operational Readiness Inspection.

“It’s training for the Misawa community because a lot of folks normally don’t run that distance, and it’s training for us,” Sites said.

An estimated 100-150 volunteers will be needed for the event, base officials estimate, including road guards, water station attendants and opening and closing ceremony helpers.

Misawa city and other local officials also are assisting with advertising and logistics for the off-base portion of the race, which starts at 8:30 a.m. in the Misawa Citizens Forestry Park. From there, the course winds through a base gate in the North Area, loops around base and finishes on a running track in the forestry park. It’s not a tough course, Sites said, but there are some hills, including the steep climb past the base beach.

“We will have the logistics in place to support several thousand runners, and we hope they come out,” said Sites.

One draw certainly will be the pot of money at the finish line: $1,000 and $500 for first and second place overall, respectively, and $500 in travel vouchers to the first ID-card holder in the chute. Medals go to the top three male and female finishers.

But base officials said the real emphasis is on building relations with Japanese residents outside the gate.

“Unless they’re an ID-card holder, the base has been pretty closed off to the majority of folks,” said Ellen Smith, Services’ marketing and commercial sponsorship director. “So it’s a great opportunity for them to come on base and run the base.”

The registration fee is $25 through Sept. 8, and then $35 for late entrants until Sept. 25.

A T-shirt and bib are included in the entry fee. Runners and walkers 18 and older can sign up, but Sites said there will be a time limit — the North Area gate will be closed about four hours after race start for security reasons. A base shuttle bus will pick up any stragglers. Register at Potter Fitness Center or call DSN 226-3982. Organizations interested in sponsorship opportunities should call DSN 226-9272.

Want to run? There’s still plenty of time left to train

With just less than 12 weeks to go before Misawa’s 13.1-mile half-marathon Oct. 8, there’s still plenty of time to train.

Running guru Hal Higdon, on his Web site,, advises “all you need to do to complete a half marathon is to dedicate yourself for 12 weeks leading up to [the] race.”

He offers three training plans, for novice, intermediate and advanced runners, with this caveat for beginners: “Before starting to train for a half marathon, you need to possess a basic fitness level,” with the assumption that you can already run three miles, three to four times a week. He also suggests that anyone older than 35 see their doctor for a physical examination.

For novice runners training for their first half-marathon, the long runs on his training schedule progressively increase from three to 10 miles.

He says it’s not necessary to run 13.1 miles to be ready for the half-marathon.

“Inspiration will carry you to the finish line,” he says on his Web site, “particularly if you taper the final week.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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