Held annually for 64 times since 1946, the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon is losing a major sponsor after March 1, 2009. Kyoto-based electronic parts maker ROHM Co., Ltd. has stated that it will no longer be a sponsor of the marathon after the 64th race on March 1, 2009. The company had shouldered about half the cost of holding the marathon.
The 42-km men-only marathon is held on the first Sunday of March mainly in Otsu, with part of the route in neighboring Kusatsu. The city of Otsu contributes 15 million yen, while Shiga Prefecture shells out 30 million yen to the hold one of Japan’s oldest marathons. With ROHM gone, officials are scrambling to find ways to make up for the shortfall and continue holding the marathon.
The marathon has seen numerous famous runners in the past, including winners Abebe Bikila in 1961 and 1965, Frank Shorter in 1973, and Toshihiko Seko in 1988. To qualify to enter the race, you must have recently run a full marathon within 2.5 hours.