We often talk about the southern half of Iwate as that’s where the Kitakami mountains, and ILC candidate site, are located. In Japanese, we use the word “ken-nan” to describe to area, which literally means “prefecture-south.” That’s my long-winded way of explaining the title of these races so I can match their official PR materials (hah!). Anyhoo, enjoy this article about running in the area, written by the Southern Iwate (“Ken-nan”) Regional Development Bureau, and translated by Amanda Wayama.

The south Iwate is host to a ton of road races and marathon events.

Iwate is blessed with an abundance of natural scenery, so these courses are a dream-come-true for anyone who wants to enjoy running in a vast expanse of rice paddy fields. In spring, you’ll run under a canopy of pink cherry blossom petals; in autumn, through a carpet of vibrant, colorful leaves. Delicious food representative of each area await you as well, from tasty craft beers to scrumptious local dishes.

The Iwate Prefectural Government (in particular, the Southern Iwate Regional Development Bureau) and the municipalities within its jurisdiction are hoping to use these road races to develop the south of Iwate, and started a plan in 2018 called the Ken-nan Legend Runners.

The Iwate Ken-nan Legend Runners

This is name of a series of road races that are all held in the south of Iwate. Participants enter into one, some, or all of the road races held within a year to see how many they can compete in and finish.

Legend Runners 2019 Series

Ken-nan Legend Runners Races

No. Name of the race Date Place About the race
Taipei Expressway Marathon 2019.3.10 Taipei, Taiwan The Taipei Expressway is blocked off so people can run this marathon.
Ihatov Hanamaki Half Marathon 2019.4.21 Hanamaki City Held right in the middle of cherry blossom season. There aren’t many hills, making this a popular course for both beginners and veteran runners.
Iwate Oshu Kirameki (“Sparkle”) Marathon 2019.5.19 Oshu City One of the major full-length marathons held during spring in the Tohoku region. You can expect to achieve a very good time, as this course is quite flat with few hills.
Kahoku Shimpo Kinshuko Lake Marathon 2019.5.26 Nishiwaga Town A mostly flat course where you run around the verdant pastures surrounding Kinshuko Lake. The Kinshuko Lake Water Festival is held the day before the race.
Kanegasaki Marathon 2019.6.2 Kanegasaki Town This race is perfect for families and elderly runners. There’s a rock-paper-scissors tournament held after the race to win a fantastic prize.
Sawauchi Marathon Stars Marathon 2019.8.4 Nishiwaga Town A mostly flat course that takes runners through the local fields. On the same day, the Snow and Ice Festival will be held near the marathon grounds (so you can cool down with some real snow during a hot summer day).
Tono Genghis Khan Marathon 2019.8.25 Tono City This course will take you back and forth throughout the pastures of Tono. Relax in the city after the race with a hot dish of Genghis Khan (grilled lamb) and beer from the Tono Hop Harvest Festival!
Ichinoseki International Marathon 2019.9.22 Ichinoseki City Run like the wind through golden rice fields stretching as far as the eye can see. It’ll be easy to get a PR on this flat course.
Hanaizumi Marathon – Toshihiko Seko Cup (he’s a famous Olympian) 2019.10.6 Ichinoseki City A course that will take you on gentle hills throughout the town and fields of Hanaizumi.
Iwate Kitakami Marathon 2019.10.13 Kitakami City The first half of the race runs through town, and the latter half through the fields. The course continues on through the beautiful scenic backdrop of the Kitakami River.

In 2019, we’ve added a race in Taiwan (the Taipei Expressway Marathon) along with the races in southern Iwate. There’s a regularly scheduled flight to Taiwan from Iwate Hanamaki Airport, so it’s very convenient to get there!

If you enter a Ken-nan Legend Runners race…

We call everyone who enters these races a “challenger,” and give all challengers the rubber bracelet you see below.

2018 bracelet design

2019 bracelet design

We also give out prizes and titles depending on how many races you’ve finished.

★Challengers who’ve entered/finished 4 or more races:
Title: “Super Runner”
Prize: Shoelaces with an original design

★Challengers who’ve entered/finished 6 or more races:
Title: “Legend Runner”
Prize: A commemorative t-shirt

★Challengers who’ve entered/finished 8 or more races:
Title: “God Runner”
Prize: An even more special commemorative t-shirt

*Specific times or distances are not needed to get titles or prizes.

How to sign-up for the Ken-nan Legend Runners

You can sign up at the website below, or at special booths set up at all the above road races. You can sign up before or after the races. (The deadline for the 2019 series is December 20th) It’s free to sign-up.

Entry site: http://run-iwate.com/

(Sorry! It’s in Japanese only)

We had around 1,300 people from 20 prefectures sign up for the 2018 series.

Again, your speed or running distance is not what’s important. The Ken-nan Legend Runners project is all about having fun as you run in multiple races!

We’ve also planned a lot of different things so runners can enjoy the events, like setting up photo spots, lending out t-shirts with original design, and even creating some temporary tattoos.

It’s pretty tough to keep in shape in order to enter multiple road races throughout the year, but tackling that challenge – and keeping it going – is an inspiration to everyone around us.

And after working hard for an entire year? Good spirits, better technique, and a body in tip-top shape await you!

There are many people who have started running in order to participate in these Ken-nan Legend Runners events.

All you need to do is start with one race.

We can’t wait to see you there!



※ KITAKAMI TIMES では、ILC建設候補地・北上山地が位置する岩手県県南地域に関する記事がよく掲載されています。日本語で「県南(けんなん)」とは、文字どおり「県の南」の地域を表現するための言葉です。





① 台北国道マラソン (2019.3.10) 台湾・台北市

② イーハトーブ花巻ハーフマラソン大会 (2019.4.21) 花巻市

③ いわて奥州きらめきマラソン大会 (2019.5.19) 奥州市

④ 河北新報錦秋湖マラソン大会 (2019.5.26) 西和賀町

⑤ 金ケ崎マラソン大会(2019.6.2)金ケ崎町

⑥ 沢内マラソンマスターズ大会(2019.8.4)西和賀町

⑦ 遠野じんぎすかんマラソン大会(2019.8.25)遠野市

⑧ 一関国際ハーフマラソン大会 (2019.9.22)一関市

⑨ 花泉マラソン大会「瀬古利彦杯」(2019.10.6)一関市

⑩ いわて北上マラソン大会(2019.10.13)北上市




★ 4つ以上出場・完走したランナー「スーパーランナー」
★ 6つ以上出場・完走したランナー「レジェンドランナー」
★ 8つ以上出場・完走したランナー「ゴッドランナー」
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エントリーサイト http://run-iwate.com/