June 4, 2009

Japanese Comedian Passes Through Memphis as Part of Earth Marathon

Around the World in 80 Days is a famous story and film title but not a practical guide for time allotment for navigating the globe, particularly if you plan on doing a large portion of the traveling on foot.

Just ask Japanese comedian Hazama Kanpei. The 59-year-old marathon runner passed through Memphis, MO on May 27th as he continues toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Kanpei set out from Japan on December 17th of last year with the goal of running and sailing around the world.

His trek caught the attention of the Japanese Olympic committee, which is seeking a bid for the 2016 games to be held in Tokyo. This group has attached itself to Kanpei’s effort hoping to further publicize their efforts.

The comedian’s Earth Marathon started with a 430-mile trek across Japan to Tokyo. On New Year’s Day he set sail on a 70-day voyage across the Pacific Ocean before landing in Long Beach, CA. Once he hit ground, Kanpei undertook an aggressive schedule of running 30 miles a day with the goal of hitting Chicago before ending up in New York City.

Ultimately he hopes to arrive in Copenhagen by October 2nd the day the host city for the 2016 Olympics will be announced.

From there the Earth Marathon will head east again, crossing Europe and Asia before finally returning home to Japan.

“Over those many months, I will pass through cities, towns, villages and uninhabited wilderness,” Kanpei said in a release. “I’ll make friends with hundreds of different people, each and every one of them sharing this planet as their home.”

The comedian caught the eye of several Memphis residents.

The newspaper office was contacted by an employee of the Bank of Kirksville, who spotted the runner taking a break at the Methodist Church in Memphis. Kanpei and his entourage of support staff, including his interpreter (Kanpei doesn’t speak English) took time to pose for a few pictures for the newspaper before getting back on the road, heading north on Highway 15.

Readers interested in following Kanpei’s trek can visit his website www.earthmarathon.ning.com

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