Japan half-marathon runners stir up hornets' nest

By News from Elsewhere...
...as found by BBC Monitoring

Image source, ANN News
Image caption,
The hornets were living happily under the bridge until hundreds of runners came along

Of all the difficulties that runners expect to face during a marathon, being attacked by a swarm of angry hornets probably isn't among them - but that's what happened during a recent race in Japan.

The unlucky runners were 7km (4.3 miles) into the Daikon Radish half-marathon in Hida - which celebrates the locally grown vegetable - when they unwittingly disturbed a nest of Japanese yellow hornets while crossing a bridge, The Mainichi daily reports. Unbeknown to them, the insects had set up home on the underside of the concrete and were apparently unsettled by the vibrations of pounding trainers.

The hornets swiftly made their presence known, stinging 115 runners as they passed by. "We didn't notice the hornets' nest during a test run the day before... We want to send letters of consolation to those who were stung," a city official tells the paper, adding that next year careful checks will aim to spot any lurking insect dangers.

Image source, Hida Municipal Government
Image caption,
The nest was not spotted during pre-race checks

Those hurt were given medical attention but there were no allergic reactions, although it's thought that between 30 and 40 people stopped running after they were stung. For those who pressed on to the finish line, the marathon's reward awaited: a selection of radishes and spinach.

As for the hornets, they were still making their presence felt when a reporter went to assess the scene the day after the race. While interviewing a man close to the bridge, the man stopped, recoiled slightly and alerted the reporter to a hornet crawling on his suit. Organisers have since issued an apology to those stung, and say that the nest has now been removed.

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