An amazing race through Japanese mountains and forests with forays into the pain cave, extreme heat and humidity, vomiting, intense fatigue, cramps, and other masochistic fun. Finished 54th out of 600 starters in a time of 15 hrs 47 min.
|Plenty of Japanese Altramaniacs. Seriously, Altra's were everywhere!|
One of the perks of my job is traveling around the world promoting Altra. I have a Japanese distributor who has done very well with the product as the Japanese love low profile foot shaped shoes. Altra has been a smash hit in Japan! Takashi, my distributor, has been inviting me to Japan for 8 months. Finally he begged saying that he really wanted me to come run a race in Japan and spend a week traveling around the country promoting Altra. I looked at my schedule (his number), thought about it, and said YES! Check out Altra Japan
|Going over race plans and course with the locals.|
|Standing Banquet and Pre-Race Meal|
|Enthusiastic Taiko Drummers|
Many Japanese runners approached me testing their English, which typically was very poor, but the smiles and bows made me feel like I knew every word they were speaking. The Japanese ultra community has been very receptive to our concepts and there were people wearing Altra's all over! It was so much fun seeing people from halfway around the world wearing my shoes! When the excitement died down, I headed to bed. Prep'd and ready to go I toe'd the start line.
|600 runners and over a 1000 volunteers|
|This picture was taken at 5:50am...the sun was up and 75 degrees|
|Beautiful early section of trail|
Up and over mountain #2 I found myself on a long dirt road that I didn't like. The footing was horrible and I longed for the beautiful singletrack we had left a few miles back. There would be 3-4 long dirt road sections on this course that were just brutal. They don't use gravel but instead used rocks ranging from the size of a marble to that of a baseball and everything in-between. My ankle started to hurt. We came out of the forest through a little town. The low point of the course, hotter than Hades, and spectacularly beautiful with small Japansese cottages, farms, and mountains in every direction.
|Coming into the Aid Station|
|I swear I drank a bathtub of water...and was still dehydrated.|
I gained momentum on the climb and cresting the top was now in the shadows on the east side of the mountain. Again I was feeling better and moving well. Several of these sections were severally rutted and overgrown with mossy roots but I loved it. I came down to a lovely lake at dusk with bugs buzzing everywhere and silhouetted mountains in the background. It looked like it was from a movie. I was not flying but still running well. I seemed to be in no-mans land seeing almost no other runner for miles. I passed two runners through here but saw no-one else.
|Typical terrain and view of the course|
|Sunset in Japan|
|Mustering the courage to leave the last major aid station|
I drank 4-5 glasses of soup (they had water, soup, and chips...nothing else at this last little outpost). I was four miles from the finish and DEAD! After watching 10 people pass by, I started walking. Desperate to finish and just plan tired I walked for over a mile. Slowly I increased the speed and was slowly running. I vowed to let nobody else pass me. Soon I saw a light ahead. I was re-passing someone! Within a mile left I was giving it all I had and managed to pass 2 more people. The last mile was coasting down the mountain. I knew the finish was close and pushed all the way down the mountain.