Four Port Stephens women will join a cultural exchange when they line up with nearly 10,000 runners in the Wakashio marathon on January 28.
Amanda Russell from Raymond Terrace along with Corlette residents Margaret Lewis, Jenny Patten and Ann Lees, were selected to take part in the exchange, which will see them enjoy four days in Tateyama, near Tokyo from January 25.
The annual marathon exchange is organised through the Port Stephens Sister Cities Committee with financial assistance from Port Stephens Council.
The runners will be put up in homestay accommodation to experience the Japanese way of life.
“Our local runners will be participating in the Wakashio Marathon, an annual event attracting more than 9,000 participants from around the world,” Port Stephens Sister Cities Committee chairman Nigel Dique said.
“This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see another country, experience another culture and test yourself both physically and mentally with the challenge of a marathon.”
Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer said the exchange is an important part of Port Stephens' relationship with Tateyama. He said the women would make excellent ambassadors.
"Tateyama has been the sister city of Port Stephens since 2009 and the marathon exchange is an important part of our long-standing friendship, with participants from Port Stephens invited to send runners each year,” he said.
“But this is much more than a competition. It’s a cultural exchange, and an opportunity for our local participants to form lifelong friendships and memories.”
Mayor Palmer says the Sister Cities Committee is invaluable to this exchange program.
"It’s a credit to the Port Stephens Sister Cities Committee that we have such strong ties with Tateyama, as it has worked tirelessly to maintain connections with our sister cities," he said.
"I’m proud that council has been able to make a contribution to our representatives and I'm really looking forward to hearing about their trip when they return," he added.
Council and the Port Stephens Sister Cities Committee provided each participant with $300 to help cover airfares, passport costs, meals and other travel costs.