Written by Staff Writer at CNN
The 21st International Barcelona-Tokyo Marathon in Japan has attracted more than 50,000 runners and 10,000 support people since 1987.
That many runners and so many volunteers to help out speaks volumes about the momentum built in both cities to foster sport tourism, particularly marathon running.
Here are the top five stories to consider for this year’s contest, from the start of the race to how runners prepare in the running of the mile.
1. Manatees are barmy about marathon running.
Each year, thousands of bathers flock to the beach in Naples, Florida for a chance to run in the Manatee Marathon, the largest marathon in the continental United States
The city’s mascots, bears and donkeys, may drink and eat hundreds of yards of bacon when the run is over — but in Manatee County, there’s a running mussel that’s particularly popular with Manatee runners.
Gentle mollusks with large eyes, they raise their long muzzles and hang out beside roadways during the marathon.
Manatees are known for being some of the most keen runners on the planet. Their metabolic rate is one-third that of the average man — and a lot of mussels will make the fast rounds along the path in order to conserve as much energy as possible, while breathing in fuel pellets to complete their endurance runs.