Story by Robin Jumper

For the last four years, Kaua’i Marathon has partnered with Iwaki City Sunshine Marathon by hosting the winner to their respective races.  The 2012 Kaua’i Marathon Female Champion Brett Ely travelled to Iwaki City last weekend to compete in her first international running competition.

Ely was greeted with moderate conditions and 4,865 race participants on the course, which lead runners from Iwaki Civic Track & Field Grounds to Onohama Port; a route that still bears signs of the devastation from the 2011 tsunami.  The race ended with a female course record for Ely: 2:49:04.

“Racing and winning a marathon in Japan was a life dream come true. I want to thank the Kaua’i Visitors Bureau and the Kaua’i Marathon for this incredible opportunity. I ran every step filled with energy from my friends on Kaua’i and from the people of Iwaki who came to support or compete in the race. It was an honor to break the tape in my first international marathon finish,” Ely said.

In 2012, Tyler McCandless represented Kaua’i Marathon in Iwaki City and had similar results winning his first international competition. Both McCandless and Ely are planning to return to Kaua’i in September to defend their titles.

Iwaki City is approximately 125 miles north of Tokyo. Once known for its coal mining, Iwaki City began focusing efforts on promoting tourism and now boasts approximately 10 million visitors annually.  Even though the earthquake and tsunami that hit the region in 2011devastated the area, the leaders of Iwaki City say they are recovering and are appreciative of all the support and donations to the area.

County of Kaua’i Mayor Carvalho and Director of Iwaki City, Tokyo Office Kazuichi Ishii, signed a formal sister-city agreement at the Lihu’e Civic Center in September of 2011. Mayor Carvalho Jr. said, “Sister city relationships promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation. It offers communities the opportunity to develop partnerships on many levels — educational, professional, technical, municipal, and of course, cultural.”

The 5th Annual Kauai Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, September 1, 2013 in Poipu, Kaua’i.  The event offers the marathon and half marathon distances, which are certified by USATF.  For additional information visit


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