The Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2022 staged safely in Japan during Omicron surge with pre-race PCR testing


Chepngetich won in 2:17:18 and received US$250,000, the biggest first prize in the world for the marathon.
A total of 8,698 women participated on-site, alongside the global virtual race.

The largest women’s marathon in the world and the only all-women World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race, the Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2022 was held on Sunday, March 13. Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya won the race in a new event record of 2:17:18. Nagoya has been hosting the marathon even during the Covid-19 pandemic while placing the top priority on safety and security, with 110 participants (elite only) in 2020 and 4,704 participants (domestic only) in 2021. This year, a total of 8,698 elite and amateur runners ran the race and filled the streets of Nagoya with colorful running outfits.

The Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2022 became the highest-paying road race in the world with its increased first prize: US$250,000. The fact that the largest prize in marathon running would be given to women rather than men gathered global attention. The proud winner was Chepngetich, who dominated the competition in the time sixth-fastest in the world and the second-fastest in the women-only marathon.

In Japan, the Omicron variant of coronavirus arrived relatively late but started causing a rapid surge in January 2022. As the number of new cases quickly rose to and above the record high level, the government enforced restrictions and called for citizens’ cooperation to contain the virus. Although the outbreak peaked in February and began to slowly decline, the number of cases remained high and even in early March, when the race was scheduled, there were a lot of uncertainties in whether the race could go ahead as planned. Generally speaking, people in Japan are very cautious about the risk of infection, and many mass event organizers, including those of marathon races, have been and are still today forced to cancel or reduce the size of their events.

To safely hold a mass participation race under such circumstances, the organizer of the Nagoya Women’s Marathon took all possible measures against infection. While establishing the Covid-19 Control Office again within the Organizing Committee with medical professionals, local authorities, and the Japan Association of Athletics Federations to formulate and implement the infection control plan, as a new measure of 2022, we set up free PCR testing stations at the event sites and required all runners to present a negative result before race start.


For non-Japanese nationals, the suspension of new entries into Japan had continued by the Japanese government, and only a small number of foreign-based elite athletes were able to join the race as a special exception given that they would be quarantined for a week at a special facility under the organizer’s responsibility. Regretfully, all the other non-elite runners living outside Japan were not allowed to enter the country and could not participate in the race in Nagoya. In the end, the original field of 22,000 was reduced to 8,698 participants this year. For runners who were unable to run the in-person race, the Nagoya Women's Online Marathon 2022 is being held as an alternative, available through a running app. All finishers, including those of the virtual race, will receive the finisher's prizes, including the event's exclusive Tiffany & Co. pendant and New Balance T-shirt.

Below are some of the key infection control measures taken at this year's event. 

Protocols for All

  • Mask wearing at all times (except for runners during competition).
  • Hand sanitization and body temperature check (Refusal of entry to the event sites for anyone with a fever of 37.5°C or higher).
  • Submission of health and temperature records from 7 days prior to race day via an app or web form.

For Elite Athletes

  • Daily PCR testing during the event period.
  • One week quarantine for foreign-based elite athletes at a designated facility after arrival in Japan.

For Runners

  • Free PCR testing provided for runners at the event sites from 3 days prior to race day.
  • A negative PCR test result within 72 hours of the race start must be presented to enter the event site on race day.
  • If a runner’s body temperature is below 37.5°C but above 37°C, an antigen test must be conducted to confirm the negative result before the race start.
  • Mask wearing before start.
  • Social distancing at the starting blocks (more than 1 m between runners).
  • Individually packaged food at refreshment stations and hand sanitization before taking them.
  • Hand sanitization and face masks distributed right after the finish.

For Volunteers

  • Face masks, face shields, and portable alcohol disinfectant provided for all volunteers, as well as additional equipment (e.g., globes) depending on where they are assigned.


At Marathon Expo

  • Booth setting, flow design, and entry restriction to avoid the ‘Three Cs’.
  • ‘Three Cs’ are the high-risk situations of COVID-19 transmission defined by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan: Crowded places with poor ventilation, Close-contact settings, and Confined spaces.
  • All visitors were required to provide their names, addresses, and contact information via an admission form at the entrance (for a contact tracing purpose).


Nagoya Women’s Marathon

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