Efforts to save the ko’ko’ from extinction are ongoing and public awareness and community involvement inspired by events such as the Guam Ko’ko’ Race have made a remarkable impact. A Guam Visitors Bureau signature event, the race was first held in 2006 and participant numbers and prestige have grown with each succeeding year.
The 2015 Guam Ko’ko’ Road Race half marathon is 13.1 miles or 21.0975 kilometres. The course is an out-and-back that starts in Tumon in front of the Guam Visitors Bureau, heads north on San Vitores Road for about a quarter mile before turning right up Route 14A (or commonly known as JFK hill), reaching its highest elevation. Cresting the top of the hill, runners will then head south on Marine Corps Drive (Route 1), encountering their only real incline on the way to the turnaround point. The race route remains on Route 1, passing through the village of Tamuning, Hagatna, and Anigua. They will reach the turnaround point which is just inside the boundaries of the village of Asan. The real test starts as the return leg is deceptively more difficult as it is a gradual uphill back to the highest point on the course at JFK hill. The course ends with a short descent down Route 14A, a slight incline in front of the Guam Marriott Hotel and then a final stretch to the finish line.
What is an Ekiden Relay?
An Ekiden is a Japanese relay run. Eki means “location” and Den means “deliver.” In early days in Japan, important documents were expedited by several runners from one location to another. The sporting event of Ekiden is based on this classic courier service. A tasuki, or a sling or sash, symbolizes the package of documents. Four runners form a team, passing the sash (which is worn over the shoulder) between each runner at an exchange point. The team with the fastest total finish time wins the Ekiden. The first Ekiden race was sponsored by the Yomiuri Shimbun in 1917 and was run over three days between the old Japanese capital of Kyoto and the modern capital of Tokyo, a distance of 508 kilometers, to celebrate the anniversary of the moving of the capital to Tokyo. The term ekiden was coined by the poet Toki Zemmaro (1885-1980) who was the head of the Yomiuri Shimbun’s Social Affairs Department at that time. The popularity of Ekiden in Japan is unsurpassed in any other country; however, it is spreading throughout the world with races in New Zealand, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, China, Germany, France, the United States, Korea and Guam.
Water will be available at the Start and Finish lines. The first Aid Station is approximately 2.5 km from the start. Subsequent aid stations will follow at intervals of one to two kilometers. There will be a total of four Hydration/aid stations on the course (runners will encounter the aid stations twice – on the way out and then back) where water and Powerade will be served. First Aid and restrooms will also be available at aid stations.
Every runner that completes the course will receive a finisher’s medal as they enter the post-race festivities in Governor Joseph Flores Memorial Park (Ypao). Within minutes of finishing, the runner will also find an individual race results card available that details their total finishing time, split and pace time and their place overall and in their division.