MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, JAPAN — The race was a way for the communities to bond through friendly competition and learn the importance of a common concern; traffic safety.
“I want everyone to have fun but I also want all the participants to spread awareness for traffic safety while doing so,” said Atsushi Sakima, mayor of Ginowan City. “Events like these are how we remind everyone to watch out on the road.”
The relay race commenced on MCAS Futenma, and extended to the outer perimeter of the air station, stretching over eight miles. Teams positioned their runners at relay points along the route and everyone was required to follow traffic regulations, and pedestrians safety laws.
“Various teams from all across Okinawa participate,” said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Thompson, who coordinated the Marine Corps’ teams. “We like to highlight the Ginowan City Fire Department and the Marine Corps, because we have a friendly rivalry. But all ages are here, from school children to adults. This event is great for the Marines to have some fun and exercise, but this is also a reminder to everyone that safety is important. When they are out walking, running or driving, everyone has a part in keeping the road safe. They need to pay attention to pedestrians, signs and other vehicles.”
The race highlighted the importance of road safety by running the route alongside traffic. Runners had to be aware of each other and the cars on the road beside them. When runners crossed streets or passed intersections, they had to obey the lights and crossing guards.
“It was fun,” said 2nd Lt. Payton Nevills a race participant with 3rd Medical Battalion. “It was good to compete with the [community] to build our comradery through friendly competition.”