Guam Ko'Ko' Road Race
The Guam Ko’ko’ Road Race is Guam’s elite ekiden relay and half-marathon, so named to raise awareness of the plight of Guam’s territorial bird, the Guam rail or ko’ko’. A flightless bird endemic to Guam, the ko’ko’ population was decimated to near extinction by the brown tree snake, pesticides and other introduced detractors. Efforts to save the ko’ko’ from extinction are ongoing and public awareness and community involvement inspired by events such as the Road Race have made a remarkable impact. A signature visitor attraction, the race was first held in 2006 and participant numbers and prestige have grown with each succeeding year.
The course begins at Governor Joseph Flores Memorial Park at Ypao Beach with a hill climb and rolling slopes for the first two kilometers. The next two kilometers are relatively flat as the course winds through the residential village of Tamuning and along the west coast main thoroughfare, Marine Corps Drive, into the capital city of Hagåtña. The turnaround points for both the ekiden relay and the half-marathon are in the village of Asan. The final leg of the course features hill climbs and a downhill slope toward the finish line at Governor Joseph Flores Memorial Park at Ypao. The entire course is scenic and tranquil with sunrise ocean views and light, cool breezes.
Last year's race saw 673 runners traveling from Japan to compete and this year, the Guam Visitors Bureau hopes to attract as many as 900, bringing the entire race participation count to 2,000 runners. International media coverage will provide broad publicity for this prestigious athletic event where records are set and broken every year by runners from across the region. The course record was set at the 2011 Guam Ko’ko’ Road Race by Japan’s Masashi Shirotake who completed the course in 1 hour, 12 minutes and 43 seconds.
The 2012 Guam Ko’ko’ Road Race is a half marathon (13.1 miles or 21.0975 kilometres) and a 4-person ekiden relay (consisting of legs of 3.24m (5.38km), 3.2m (5.15km), 3.2m (5.15km) and 3.36m (5.41km)). Exchange Points 1 and 3 will be located on Marine Corps Drive, East Agana (close to Citibank) and Exchange Point 2 will be located on Marine Corps Drive, Asan (at the entrance into the village of Asan just before the turnaround point).
The Guam Ko'ko' Road Race was awarded the Sports Tourism Award from The Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport in 2009.