Two of Japan’s top triathletes will compete with more than 200 other participants Sunday in Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni’s 18th annual Japanese and American Goodwill Triathlon.

The competition consists of a 1.2-kilometer (about 0.75 miles) open-water swim in the Iwakuni Harbor, a 36-kilometer (about 22.5 miles) bike ride and a 10-kilometer (about 6.2 miles) run, said organizer Turbo Uemura from Iwakuni’s Marine Corps Community Services athletic department.

“We have about 50 percent of the athletes who are repeaters from last year and previous years,” Uemura said. Each year, 200-250 athletes compete in the races.

“They come from as far as Tokyo this year, along with some from Kyushu,” he said Thursday.

He said the two favorites among this year’s competitors are Masakatsu Kawamura from nearby Shunan City and Tetsuro Fukumoto from Mihara City, about a two-hour drive from Iwakuni.

“Both of these [competitors] are so good,” Uemura said. “It would be hard to say which one is the favorite because it often just depends on the race circumstances.” Both competitors “are very famous in Japan,” he said.

None of the U.S. Marines and sailors participating is considered a likely winner, Uemura said.

“Mostly, they just want to enjoy it and have a good time,” he said. “It’s mainly about good will, friendship.”

Iwakuni’s triathlon has earned prestige through the years because of the number of athletes and spectators involved, consistent quality of competitors and the event’s smooth operation, community services officials say.

During the races, a “Kids Land” park will operate with air toys and games for children. Food and beverages will be available.

Trophies and other prizes are awarded to top finishers at a concluding ceremony.

Call Uemura at DSN 253-5654 for more information.

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