Ibigawa Japan

A local tour company involved in bringing Japanese students to St. George, became aware of a city in Japan that was starting a marathon similar to the one being held in St. George, Utah. The company contacted the Director of the St. George Marathon about the idea of doing an exchange between the two cities concerning their respective marathons. In 1989 the St. George Marathon Director flew out to Ibigawa, Japan to lay the groundwork for what has become a very successful exchange program. Since that time the two cities have exchanged delegations and event winners in an effort to enhance each marathon and to broaden the scope of understanding between countries and cultures. Both marathons have built reputations for their excellence and growth. The exchange program has played a part in the success of both marathons and new ideas are fostered as these two marathons grow and mature. 

Currently, St. George sends the overall male and female winners, masters division winners, and a local runner to Japan for a week-long stay with Japanese host families. This award for winners demonstrates the uniqueness of the St. George Marathon.


2024 Student Exchange Program Contest - Japan and Me Essay 

The St. George Marathon will select 10 current 8th grade students from Washington Country to be a part of it’s delegation to Ibigawa, Japan in November 2024. We are looking for students that will be great representatives of our city, who exemplify courtesy, respect, and integrity. Delegates will be selected after a review of written essays, and qualifications submitted by interested students. 

We want to get to know the student as well as possible and believe that his or her thoughtful, well-constructed essay is an important step in this process. We are looking for students that will be great representatives of our city, who exemplify courtesy, respect, and integrity. In no more than 300 words, describe three things you would hope to learn while visiting Ibigawa. Responses will be judged on content, uniqueness, and creativity. Your application and attached essay must be submitted no later than April 1st, 2024.

After review of all essays, we will notify you of your status. If you have any questions, you may contact our office at (435) 627-4500 or email marathon@sgcity.org 


Student exchange information:

  • The St. George Marathon covers half of the airfare costs for each student.  The estimated airfare is $1,600.00 – the estimated cost for each student is $800.00. 
  • Ground transportation in Japan is provided.  
  • Housing and meals are provided in Japan by a host family or by the City of Ibigawa.
  • Students need to obtain a valid passport and provide their own spending and incidental monies. 
  • Parents or legal guardians are required to complete a permission slip for selected student delegates and provide evidence of medical insurance for the student
  • Students will be accompanied by adult chaperones during the trip.
  • Students will NOT be required to present a Vaccination Certificate or Covid-19 Negative Test


Tentative Itinerary: (subject to change)

Nov. 5 - Leave St. George, Utah

Nov. 6 - Arrive Ibigawa, Japan

Nov. 7 - Sightseeing

Nov. 8 - Welcome Party and School Tours

Nov. 9 - Free time with Host family day

Nov. 10 - Ibigawa Marathon and Farewell Dinner

Nov. 11 - Leave Ibigawa, Japan

Nov. 11 - Arrive St. George, Utah