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Runners take off at the start of 4 by 5-kilometer relay of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Runners take off at the start of 4 by 5-kilometer relay of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Runners take off at the start of 4 by 5-kilometer relay of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Runners take off at the start of 4 by 5-kilometer relay of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Runners take off at the start of the 5-kilometer road race, part of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Runners take off at the start of the 5-kilometer road race, part of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
A runner makes a final push during the last stretch of the 5-kilometer road race of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
A runner makes a final push during the last stretch of the 5-kilometer road race of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
A runner crosses the finish line in the 4 by 5-kilometer relay of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
A runner crosses the finish line in the 4 by 5-kilometer relay of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Costumes ran the gamut for many of the runners participating in the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Costumes ran the gamut for many of the runners participating in the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Runners in the 26th annual Ekiden pace their way through the last leg of the Ekiden relay race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Runners in the 26th annual Ekiden pace their way through the last leg of the Ekiden relay race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Runners in the 26th annual Ekiden pace their way through the last leg of the Ekiden relay race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Runners in the 26th annual Ekiden pace their way through the last leg of the Ekiden relay race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Two Japanese female runners show their enthusiasm by running in costume in the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Two Japanese female runners show their enthusiasm by running in costume in the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Runners hit the pavement for the 26th Annual Ekiden relay race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Runners hit the pavement for the 26th Annual Ekiden relay race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
A Japanese female runner braves the hot afternoon sun in a rabbit costume during the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
A Japanese female runner braves the hot afternoon sun in a rabbit costume during the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
This runner's outfit was among the many interesting costumes sported by runners in the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
This runner's outfit was among the many interesting costumes sported by runners in the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Costumed runners cheer on fellow costumed runners during the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Costumed runners cheer on fellow costumed runners during the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Runners take off at the start of 4 by 5-kilometer relay of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Runners take off at the start of 4 by 5-kilometer relay of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
A man wearing a wig was just one of many runners who dressed up for the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
A man wearing a wig was just one of many runners who dressed up for the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Runners dig in during the last stretch of the 5-kilometer road race of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Runners dig in during the last stretch of the 5-kilometer road race of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Some young female runners make it to the finish line for the 2-kilometer children's road race during the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Some young female runners make it to the finish line for the 2-kilometer children's road race during the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Takashi Ito crosses the finish line first during the 5-kilometer road race portion of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
Takashi Ito crosses the finish line first during the 5-kilometer road race portion of the 26th annual Ekiden at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
A woman gives a man in the crowd a high five during the 26th annual Ekiden race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
A woman gives a man in the crowd a high five during the 26th annual Ekiden race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
A runner makes his way through the 26th annual Ekiden relay race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010.
A runner makes his way through the 26th annual Ekiden relay race at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sunday, June 6, 2010. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Close to 5,000 runners - many dressed in outlandish costumes - pounded the pavement during the base’s 26th annual Ekiden race.

The main event was a four-person relay that required each person to run 5 kilometers. There was also a 2-kilometer children’s race and 5-kilometer open road race.

Although it was a smaller turnout than years past, it did not dampen the day’s event as the sun came out in full support of this year’s Ekiden.

“It was very hot,” said Stephen Taylor, a civilian runner from London who said he races all over Tokyo. “People do all the winter training and suddenly it’s hot.”

As for the many costumed runners, Taylor chuckled. “I think it’s fun, but I feel sorry for some the people wearing costumes,” he said. “Especially with all this heat.”

“I love the creativity and the time they put into their costumes,” said Jennifer Partin, president of the Yokota Striders Running Club, which sponsored the event.

When asked if he’d put on a costume for his next race, Taylor replied, “When I stop improving my time I’ll start thinking about wearing a costume.”

okubog@pstripes.osd.mil

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