2019 marks the 10th annual Minamiuonuma Gourmet Marathon, which is held in the picturesque Niigata countryside. The rural surroundings mean the course winds you around newly planted rice fields, alongside rivers, and even through the International University of Japan campus grounds. If the spectacular views aren't enough, there's another fantastic reason to participate.
The gourmet marathon showcases some of the region's best eats, including meat and fish, mountain vegetables, locally grown koshihikari rice, and Hakkaisan Sake. There are approximately fifty different food vendors available to purchase food from after the race. For those who participate, all-you-can-eat rice is included in your entry fee.
Do note that despite the event being referred to as a marathon, the events include a half marathon, quarter marathon (approximately 10km) and a 1/8 marathon (approximately 5km).
The Minamiuonuma Gourmet Marathon starts and finishes at Yairo no Mori Park in Urasa, Niigata Prefecture. The closest station is Urasa Station, serviced by the Joetsu Shinkansen and local JR Joetsu Lines.
Yairo no Mori Park is approximately 15 minutes on foot from the station itself.
I'm an Australian who has lived abroad for almost a decade, including 7 years in Japan - specifically Tokyo and Niigata. I've visited 44 of 47 prefectures, with only Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto left to check out. I'm particularly fond of exploring off the beaten path destinations, gardens, ...