As scorching heat shimmered off the tarmac and licked at runners' sun-kissed faces, an elated crowd erupted into deafening cheers Sunday morning in the city of Chiba at the stroke of 10.

A total of 204 people, including 10 people with dementia, were participating in a run as part of Run Tomo, a nationwide long-distance sash relay amongst people suffering from dementia, their relatives, medical and care workers and anyone looking to enhance their understanding of the disease.

Depending on their physical condition, some ran 200 meters while others covered 2 kilometers — many with supporters running alongside — during the relay along the roughly 25 km route.