Fukuoka Marathon - 33 runners start the first race, 7 December 1947 (© The Asahi Shimbun)
Plaque name: Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship
The Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship, today a World Athletics Gold Label Road Race was founded in 1947. It began under the title of the "Kanaguri Prize Asahi Marathon" with the starting gun fired by Shizo Kanaguri, a 1912, 1920 & 1924 Olympian, who is known as the "father of Japanese marathon running". The aim of inaugurating the race was to honour Kanaguri's achievements.
The race quickly gained international renown with three of the top times in the world in 1950 set in Fukuoka. By 1966, the race with the support of the IAAF, changed its name to the 'International Open Marathon Championship'. It was Derek Clayton’s world record in 1967, the first sub-2:10 in history and Robert de Castella’s 2:08 run in 1981 which broke that world mark, which made the Fukuoka marathhon into a legend.
USA's 1972 Olympic champion Frank Shorter won the race four times consecutively in the early 1970s and Japan's Toshihiko Seko had three-wins in a row later in that decade, with a fourth race success in 1983.