By Duncan Mackay

Tokyo Marathon 2013February 24 - A crowd estimated at 1.7 million lined the streets to watch the Tokyo Marathon, which Japanese officials used to demonstrate the enthusiasm for the city's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

The race was started by Naoki Inose, the Governor of Tokyo, and was won by Kenya's Dennis Kimetto and Ethiopia's Aberu Kebede.

The event was held just a week before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission, led by Britain's Sir Craig Reedie, arrives in the Japanese capital to prepare a report that will prove vital in its race against rivals Istanbul and Madrid. 

Kimetto set a course record of 2 hours 6min 50sec on a route which wound its way through areas defined in the Tokyo 2020 Games plan as the Heritage Zone and Tokyo Bay Zone.

Among the landmarks that the 30,000 runners passed were the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Sky Tree, Ginza's trendy shopping streets, and time-honoured icons including the Imperial Palace in the heart of town and Asakusa Kaminarimon Gate, site of Tokyo's first temple, said to have been built in 628.

The final stretch took the marathoners to the Tokyo Bay Zone and within view of majestic Rainbow Bridge.

They finished at Tokyo Big Sight, Japan's largest convention centre, which will serve as Tokyo 2020's venue for wrestling, powerlifting, fencing, taekwondo, boccia and wheelchair fencing, as well as housing the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre.

Tokyo Marathon 2013 startThis year's Tokyo Marathon was started by the city's recently-elected Governor, Naoki Inose

The race, the newest member of the World Marathon Majors, an elite series of events which also incluedes Berlin, Boston Chicago, London and New York City, was hailed by Tsunekazu Takeda, the President of Tokyo 2020 and the Japanese Olympic Committee, as proof of the country's passion to watch top-class sport.

The Tokyo Marathon celebrates the remarkable power of sport to unite and inspire us all," he said.

"The Japanese people love sport and are deeply proud of Tokyo's global status as sporting hub.

"Today is another shining example of the immense joy Tokyo takes in welcoming people from around the world, whether it's for a major marathon or the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

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